Tag Archives: PRINCE2 Agile

The Lean Startup in six lectures by Eric Ries offered by Udemy

In my post regarding PRINCE Agile, a first overview and PRINCE2 Agile in one picture, I explained that PRINCE2 Agile makes use of the Lean Startup philosophy.

To get a better understanding of this philosophy I reviewed Eric Ries’ book The Lean Startup (see the one-pager on my blog).

I already received several questions regarding the MPV (Minimum Viable Product). It looks like that people are confused and think that at least all ‘Must Haves’ must be part of the product. See attached screenshot from a online lecture from Eric Ries about this MVP. This screenshot comes from a training offered by Udemy.

2015-08-28 09.40.44

Udemy (www.udemy.com) is an online learning marketplace, where 8 million+ students are taking courses. They offer 32,000+ courses taught by an expert instructor, and every course is available on-demand. You can buy course by course.

As stated they offer an online course regarding the Lean Startup. In this module you can find:

  • Over 6 lectures and 2.5 hours of content!
  • The basic principles of Lean Startup methodology
  • How to create a system of “innovation accounting” within your company so that everyone is building products that meets customers needs
  • The easiest and fastest ways to build minimum viable products so you can get your product launched as quickly as possible
  • Tactics for experimenting with landing pages, A/B tests, MVPs on real customers
  • What “The 3 A’s” are and how to make sure all of the metrics you look at are actionable, accessible and auditable
  • And much more…

I liked the setup of these Lean Startup lectures and it definitely helps you to understand MVP, pivots, testing hypotheses, etcetera. The six videos offer introductions by Eric Ries and interviews with several people to talk about specific topics. E.g. Farb Nivi on Innovation Accounting, Hiten Shah on Creating experiments to test hypotheses, Janice Fraser on Lean user experience and David Binetti on the art of the pivot.

For those who want to hear/see more have a look at YouTube. Eric also gave a lecture at Google. See below.

Advertisements

PRINCE2 awareness email course

paem2-150x150I received a request from Nader Rad (Management Plaza) to have a look at his micro-courses regarding PRINCE2, and PRINCE2 Agile.

It’s a great concept if you want to get a flavour of these best practices.

PRINCE2 Awareness email course:

After subscribing you get during 6 weeks, every day an email. In this personalized email a single topic will be discussed. Every mail ends with a sort of ‘cliff-hanger’ or question regarding the next mail to come. In every email you will find a progress indicator too. It will cost you a few minutes to read so if you are not familiar with PRINCE2 you don’t have an excuse anymore. Subscribe, spend a few minutes per day and after 6 weeks you have a basis understanding of PRINCE2.

As I stated, it’s just to get a flavour, it’s not a full eLearning course. You will follow step by step the introduction, the seven principles, the seven themes and the seven processes.

Some suggestions:

  • Give subscribers the possibility to immediately request for the next episode. If they do not ask, they will receive the next episode the next day
  • Replace the video regarding processes with mails in line with the rest
  • Add figures, tables etc.

If you are interested see: http://mplaza.pm/free-prince2-course/ where you can subscribe (for free).

Book review: The lean startup, how constant innovation creates radically successful businesses

Just finished ‘The lean startup, how constant innovation creates radically successful businesses’ by Eric Ries. This is one of the books that was used in creating the PRINCE2 Agile framework. In my previous post I gave an overview of this new PRINCE2 Agile framework. See PRINCE2 Agile, a first overview.

PRINCE2 Agile briefly explains the lean startup and the usage of the Minimum Viable Product (MVP). Lean startup follows the Build-Measure-Learn cycle and is a good example of agility. The book focuses on entrepreneurs and helps you to set up a new business. The philosophy can easily be applied in your projects to find out if you understand your customer correctly by creating a hypothesis and model, build a MVP and test. The sooner you fail with your test the earlier you can learn from what you have done and adapt.

Dia1I created a one-page overview (to download: Lean startup (QRC, 150717) v1.0). The MPV can have many forms. Be aware that the MPV is not necessarily the smallest product imaginable (minimum usable product). It can be a simple video, a concierge model, a smoke or split test, or an early prototype and many more. Make sure the MVP helps you to learn and keep it as simple as possible. The faster you can start testing, the better. After analysing the results you have to decide to pivot (the test fails so you have to change the MVP or change your vision and leaps of faith) or to persevere.

The book is divided in three parts. Part one: Vision, part two: Steer and part three: Accelerate. The final chapter in the book is titled Join the movement. It contains many references to interesting websites/blogs and required and future reading.

PRINCE2 Agile, a first overview

During the last Gartner PPM Summit, 8 and 9 June 2015, in London, it was confirmed again. “One size does not fit all” is true in the world of projects too. Are reliability and cost the most important or are we going for brand awareness, sales and customer experience? Do we have to deal with long-term or short-term contracts? Is the focus on IT only or enterprise-wide? Are we talking about frequent or a limited number of deliveries within short or long lead times? Many debates we see in the media, PRINCE2 versus Agile, Scrum only but what about governance or the business case? The answer from Axelos is PRINCE2 Agile that combines the best from both worlds to carry out a project properly.

Introduction

PRINCE2 Agile includes both the existing PRINCE2 as the agile way of thinking. The agile way of thinking must be seen as agile behaviour, concepts, frameworks, focus areas and techniques. The existing PRINCE2 principles, processes and themes remain, but should be tailored using the agile way of working and the project itself. PRINCE2 Agile searches for the best of both worlds where the emphasis lies in the use of PRINCE2 within project direction and project management and the agile approach in the product delivery. Depending on the project situation you can apply more or less of the PRINCE2 or agile way of thinking. See Figure 1.

Dia05Figure 1. Mixing of PRINCE2 and Agile

six project control parameters: PRINCE2 uses six project control parameters: time, cost, scope, quality, risks and benefits. All six have their own tolerances. PRINCE2 Agile recognizes the same six project control parameters except that within an agile approach time and cost are fixed (no tolerance), quality and scope can be partially flexible (no tolerances for the essential criteria and products) and the risks and benefits can be fixed or flexible (tolerances in consultation between the project manager and the project board).

The reasons for flexing are explained by the five targets:

  1. Be on time and hit deadlines
  2. Ensure the required quality
  3. Embrace change
  4. Keep the team stable
  5. Accept that the user doesn’t need everything

In the following paragraphs I explain how the principles, themes and processes can be customized to incorporate the agile way of thinking.

Principles

The seven PRINCE2 principles remain. However PRINCE2 Agile adds five behavioural components to it:

  • Transparency – regarding the progress of the project.
  • Collaboration – between the project team members and stakeholders.
  • Rich Communication – consultation over email, visualization over text.
  • Self-organization – empower and facilitate the project team.
  • Exploration – curiosity over obeying the rules.

The processes

Starting up and initiating the project: Make during starting up a project, an initial estimate how far you can go with embedding the agile way of working in the project. To perform this agile risk assessment, PRINCE2 Agile developed the Agilometer. This evaluation must be repeated during the initiation stage and the various stage transitions.

Agilometer: The Agilometer consists of six key areas to be used in the assessment of the application of agile within the project. The six key areas are:

  • Acceptance of agile;
  • Advantageous environmental conditions;
  • Ability to work iteratively and deliver incrementally;
  • Ease of communication;
  • Level of collaboration;
  • Flexibility on what is delivered.

The project manager performs this analysis and looks for each key area for possible or necessary improvements and gives insight how agile the project can be established. So, it’s not a matter of yes or no. It also makes no sense to calculate an average of the six sliders. This Agliometer is comparable with the agile project questionnaire from DSDM.

During Start up and Initiating the project it’s key to find the right balance between the risks associated with the project and the level of detail the issues should be sorted out beforehand. The aim should be to maximize the freedom to steer the project during the implementation of the project. Sometimes within agile they call Starting up and Initiating the Project stages, sprint zero or the discovery phase. The Project Product Description is then referred to as the project backlog.

Cynefin model: PRINCE2 Agile uses the Cynefin model from Snowden to determine the level of uncertainty and thereby what the most logical approach and management of the project. The Cynefin model identifies five domains:

  • Obvious: clear cause-effect relationship
  • Complicated: cause-effect relationship is not clear
  • Complex: cause-effect relationship can only be explained in retrospect
  • Chaotic: cause-effect relationship can’t be indicated
  • Disorder; unclear to which domain the change belongs.

With clear cause-effect relationships there is usually a simple project or ‘business as usual’. Projects we find especially in the complicated and complex domains. The more complex in its environment the more an agile way of working is desirable. If the cause-effect relationship can’t be indicated, then a process approach is the most appropriate approach.

Directing the project: With ‘business as usual’ the product owner directs the agile process. In a project environment, we see the PRINCE2 roles of executive (sponsor), senior user and senior supplier. For simple projects, some of these roles can be merged, e.g. the executive and senior user role.

In all cases it is important that collaboration is based on trust, and that therefore there is no blame culture. Management by exception is than characterized by empowerment and rich communication.

Controlling a stage / Managing product delivery: Within PRINCE2 Agile it is possible that there are no stages but only time boxes, whether inside releases or increments. Releases or increments can also be defined as stages, if at the end of which an explicit go / no-go decision is planned. It is important to plan around the functions (sub-products) and use flexible work packages that emphasize that teams are as much as possible self-organizing, communicating rich and make management by exceptions possible. Focus is on the result to be delivered, so the scope and quality criteria and the control of the agile related risks. The Controlling a Stage is characterized by transparency, collaboration and rich communication, self-organization and flexibility.

To have frequent releases makes it possible to harvest benefits as early as possible, obtain fast user feedback and reduce risk. It provides confidence that the project will deliver and it will help to obtain and retain the stakeholders’ interests. Small releases are often easier to take into production. Of course, the releases needs to be planned so that it is clear when which of the functions (sub-products) are delivered.

Manage a stage boundary: During managing a stage boundary (increments or releases), it is important to assess how much is produced, which what quality and what benefits have been or may be harvest. In addition, an assessment of the agile way of working, and determine if the method used must be adjusted. This corresponds to the retrospective in Scrum. Of course, this step should take place with as little as possible ceremony.

Closing the project: Within agile there is not much described on the formal closure of a project. Usually there are already several interim products delivered. PRINCE2 Agile emphasizes on the following activities that may or may not be conducted in workshop form. Rate the final outcome with respect to the original plan. Agree on the formal user acceptance. Evaluate the process as well as the usage of agile in the project. Finalize the required documentation. Transfer the result formally to the customer.

Themes

All themes within PRINCE2 can be found in PRINCE2 Agile. Some topics are within the agile way of working more important than others.

Business justification: The business case for the entire project is drawn up during Starting up / Initiating the project and updated at the end of each stage. It must also clearly define the minimum usable product, based on the prioritized list of requirements (must-haves). The added value of the individual functions will be prioritized in the different timeboxes. A requested function or feature that adds no value to the organization will not be realized.

Organization: The known roles of executive (sponsor), senior user and senior supplier still exist in an agile project but from a user perspective often expanded with the role of Business Ambassador (DSDM) or Product Owner (Scrum). The Project Manager has a more facilitating role than a managerial role (servant leader). Depending on the self-organizing ability of the development team and the Agile method used, the role of Team Manager can be filled formally, or by a Scrum Master (Scrum), or be fulfilled by the team as a whole. For the Project Manager, it is important that he has at least a point of contact in the team and that in the team someone from the user side is involved (business ambassador or product owner).

If the project consists of only one agile team, then a simple agile approach with one product owner and scrum master suffice. Consists the project of more teams than the different product owners and scrum masters must tune their work and progress (scrum of scrums).

Plan: A project is finite. For each project there must be a planned end date. Therefore you need an overall project plan. This also distinguishes the agile project approach to agile maintenance approach as part of business as usual. The project plan to support the agile approach, however, should be limited to the main topics/functions. It has to be just sufficient to be able to determine the total duration and the total budget, assuming sufficient (flexible) tolerances within the to be requested functionalities. Per increment or timebox the project plan will be more detailed. Within an agile approach the time and cost tolerances are set to zero and the flexibility will be found in the tolerance of the functionalities.

PRINCE2 Agile prescribes no mandatory planning technique and no planning approach. From the agile way of working it is appropriate to establish the project plan empirically in consultation with the project team and set the various timebox plans by the delivery team themselves. These delivery teams can make use of a simple scoring system such as planning poker, or T-shirt planning.

Progress monitoring: As with the PRINCE2, PRINCE2 Agile focuses on the product to be delivered. However, PRINCE2 Agile is less about whether it will succeed to deliver the product as defined within the given time horizon, but how much functionality can be completed within the given time horizon. For progress reporting at project level you can make use of stand-up meetings, information radiators, team boards and visual burn-down or burn-up charts that are used at the team level. In addition agile teams frequently make use of the concept of velocity. This is a measure of the production of the development team in a certain period of time (timebox), with which one can also determine the extent to which a team learns, and hence can realize more in the course of time.

Risk Management: Risk management gets less attention Within PRINCE2 Agile because many project risks are already minimized by the agile approach. But due to a possible discrepancy between the agile approach and more conditioned environment new project risks can be introduced too. In order to identify these risks, the Agilometer is introduced. As a result the project approach can be tailored to accommodate the given situation as showed in the Agilometer. PRINCE2 Agile uses the five behavioural components to control possible project risks too.

Quality: Within PRINCE2 Agile is important to develop a less formal quality management strategy, but you still need to capture it: what and how is tested within the development teams and what, how, and by whom will be tested at the end of the time boxes. Within the Project Product Description we find the description of the needed necessary changes in the organization based on the result to be delivered. Further, the acceptance criteria and the “Definition of Done” are central to the quality theme. Quality criteria of the requested products can be found in the product descriptions on the project level and in the user stories at the team level.

Change management: PRINCE2 Agile embraces change. The more changes, the better the product is likely to be connected to the company strategy and the greater the user involvement, and thus the probability of acceptance of the product. It is important to make a distinction between the changes in the officially fixed configuration (project product description), which should be monitored formally at project level and the further elaboration of that configuration within the development team and user representatives (informal). Adding new parts means that those new parts needs to be exchanged for other less important parts (trading), because there are no time and cost tolerances within agile projects.

Lean start-up: Within the philosophy of embracing change, PRINCE2 Agile also introduces the principle of lean start-up. Lean start-up focuses on learning and act accordingly. Try as fast as possible (fail fast). But take as soon as possible (parts of) products in use, and learn from them. The product that processed most of the learning experiences, usually delivers the most value.

Agile and supplier contracts

Agile in combination with strict supplier contracts remains a challenge for many. Within PRINCE2 Agile this problem is worked out in a clear manner and therefore also provided various guidelines. Useful recommendations are:

  • Focus is on the end result (outcome) and not on the final product (output);
  • Define the level of user participation during the project;
  • Describe, in terms of time, important delivery milestones (sprints and / or releases);
  • Include a clause that the project board may decide to stop prematurely;
  • Take a bonus / penalty clause on the basis of the quantity of delivered end result;
  • Define global requirements and prioritize them. Detailed requirements will ask for too many adjustments during the project;
  • Keep the contract as simple as possible (depends on mutual trust).

Agile Frameworks

PRINCE2 Agile discusses the use of the Scrum and Kanban frameworks and related techniques such as user stories, MoSCoW prioritizing, frequent releases, planning poker and T-shirt estimation extensively.

A Dutch version of this article will be published in due course (IPMA Projectie).

PRINCE2 Agile manual supporting tabs, a helping aid to pass your PRINCE2 Agile practitioner exam

Dia1I am happy to announce that as of now, PRINCE2 Agile practitioner candidates can make use of a simple aid to quickly find your way in the official PRINCE2 Agile manual during e.g. your exam. These tabs (place marks) are developed in line with the successful tabs I developed for the PRINCE2 manual.

To download:  PRINCE2_Agile_Manual_tabs_2015 v1.0

(text in black: PRINCE2_Agile_Manual_tabs_2015 (black) v1.0)

Please let me know if you miss specific topics which needs to be addressed by their own tab.

PRINCE2 Agile in one picture

In one of my previous posts I already gave some preliminary facts regarding the new PRINCE2 Agile framework. See: preliminary facts 

In this post you get a simple overview regarding PRINCE2 Agile. This framework is based on blending PRINCE2 and agile together. PRINCE2 is strong in the areas of project directing and project management and agile is strong in the area of product delivery. It’s not a matter to chose between PRINCE2 or agile but to decide how far you can go using specific agile ways of working by tailoring the PRINCE2 approach. The new framework offers the Agilometer to understand how far you can go using agile. Together with the usage of the Cynefin framework created by David Snowden you must have a good view how to blend PRINCE2 and agile.

Dia5

For the PRINCE2 part this new framework is based on the existing PRINCE2 2009 version. For the agile part they use The definitive guide to scrum by Ken Swaber and Jeff Sutherland (integral copy included in the manual) and material based on The lean startup by Eric Ries and Kanban – Successful evolutionary change for your technology business by David Anderson (see book review).

Besides these frameworks you can also find explanation of behaviour in the areas of collaboration, self-organisation, transparency, rich communication and exploration.

In a next post I will give a summary of PRINCE2 Agile based on the official PRINCE2 Agile manual.

PRINCE2 Agile, some preliminary facts (updated)

PRINCE2 AgileAxelos is getting closer to the launch date of PRINCE2 agile. June 24th is the date!

  • PRINCE2 Agile combines the control of PRINCE2, with the agility of Agile.
  • The course lasts 3 days;
  • Entry criterion: registered PRINCE2 Practitioner (means your last (re)registration is not older than 5 years!) I think they made a big mistake here. I would use as an entry criteria PRINCE2 Foundation, now a lot of potential candidates can’t go for PRINCE2 Agile;
  • Exam is 2,5 hours English multiple choice, objective test exam (15 CPD points);
  • PRINCE2 Agile means agile behaviours, agile frameworks, agile concepts, agile focus areas and agile techniques;
  • PRINCE2 Agile will work with any established agile approach;
  • PRINCE2 Agile will cover Scrum, Kanban, Cynefin and Lean Startup in detail. PRINCE2 Agile explains how they work and how to incorporate them into a project environment;
  • It will not work together with AgilePM;
  • PRINCE2 Agile contains four principle areas: Lean and flow based approaches (e.g. Kanban, Lean start-up), Iterative and time boxed (e.g. Scrum), Project focussed (e.g. Feature Driven Development), Standalone techniques (e.g. user stories);
  • The six PRINCE2 project controls stays but: don’t make Time and Cost flexible, Benefits and Risk could be flexible and Quality (Criteria) and Scope are flexible;
  • The 5 behaviours in PRINCE2 Agile: Collaboration, Self-organisation, Transparency, Rich communication and Exploration (asking for fast and often feedback: thus embracing change);
  • PRINCE2 Agile is for all projects, not only IT projects;
  • How much agility you can apply depends on the project. PRINCE2 Agile is all about behavior, tailoring, combining the best of PRINCE2 and Agile, gives control, good governance and is flexible and embraces pragmatism.

When I have access to the formal PRINCE2 Agile manual I will post a summary of the new PRINCE2 Agile approach.

For more information: www.AXELOS.com/PRINCE2Agile