More and more project managers have to work within agile environments. But of course, there are things to consider when you move from ‘traditional’ project management to agile project delivery.
Within project management solution, PRINCE2 Agile, there is a useful checklist that helps project managers become aware of four areas that are important to consider when delivering agile projects.
These include collaboration and self-organisation; transparency, communication and exploration; environment; and planning, monitoring and control. Let’s have a closer look at each of them.
Collaboration and self-organisation
Effective collaboration is the basis for an agile project which involves a self organising team that solves issues together. And for this you need a project manager that trusts their team to deliver without micromanagement. This is one of the emphasis areas in PRINCE2 Agile – allowing people to get on with providing the right solutions demanded by the project.
This also requires the project board to be clear about the meaning of “empowered” teams and they also need to be ok with teams planning and making changes as necessary.
Transparency, communication and exploration
Communication is key for a successful project manager. And clear communication is essential for the product vision. The team must understand the vision in order to support it. Only then will they contribute wholeheartedly and create valuable business change.
Using the MoSCoW method (must have, should have, could have, won’t have for now) can be useful to prioritise the ultimate product requirements. This also helps clearly informing the stakeholders on what they will get, should get and won’t get.
Transparency with your stakeholders is absolutely important. Letting them know what the minimum viable product will look like will reassure them about their return on investment and therefore the value they’ll get out of the project.
PRINCE2 Agile also includes the “Agilometer”. This is especially useful for organisations that haven’t worked with agile concepts before. The Agilometer provides additional guidance about agile and creates a level of control and predictability without being too prescriptive. Assessing the environment and its level of acceptance of agile methods and behaviours is part of this.
For this, the project manager’s servant leadership role is important. This is about helping the team to remove any blockers that endanger the progress of the project and project managers need to be aware of their role in this. Stakeholder engagement is a key skill here.
Of course, it is a huge challenge if the project team is completely new to agile ways of working. Scrum is a good introduction as it’s the most commonly used delivery method. But project managers also need to make sure stakeholders are aware of the delivery method used and in particular the language used – otherwise this could lead to misunderstandings.
Stakeholder relationships should also be part of the lessons learned process to see what went well and what didn’t. This creates a continual improvement within the team, which will help with future projects.
Planning, monitoring and control
A happy team is a more effective team. Project managers should check on a daily basis that their teams are happy with their agile approach and they need to support the agile ways of working. This will ensure confidence in the project manager.
“Flexing” or “prioritising” what is delivered to create value at the earliest point are two important concepts within PRINCE2 Agile. “Flexing” is based on the prioritised requirements where tolerance may be used for those that are desirable but not essential. The project board needs to understand this to provide effective governance to the project.
This will help with being on time and hitting deadlines, protecting the quality of the project, embracing change (it will happen anyway), keeping teams stable. But it also leads to accepting that the customer doesn’t need everything because they simply don’t. Ultimately, PRINCE2 Agile combines the well-established project management method PRINCE2 with agile ways of working.