Integrating Agile into PRINCE2

Back in July 2010, I received an email asking me to comment on a white paper which described “the benefits of running PRINCE2 and DSDM together and to provide a general overview on how to achieve this”.
To put this in context, I work in an organisation which, like most, has a tradition of waterfall-style project delivery with an intranet-based lifecycle process description, based, I believe, on PMBOK rather than PRINCE2, but those differences are moot for the purposes of this discussion. What I was being asked, in effect, was why can we not fit DSDM Atern into the existing waterfall governance structure we currently have in place?
Although my reply has long since been deleted, it went something like this:

“It should be borne in mind that the white paper referenced is produced by a consultant – albeit a very experienced and highly respected one – who has a vested interest in widening the appeals of DSDM into potentially lucrative markets like the UK government, for which PRINCE has been the standard method for a number of years. The government, likewise, has invested millions of pounds in PRINCE2 and might be reluctant to let it go completely.
There are certainly advantages for an organisation using PRINCE2 to adopt agile practices, and if they are going to do that, I suggest DSDM Atern should be the method of choice. However, there are fundamental differences in the mindset required to get an agile team working effectively that is at odds with the philosophy of PRINCE2. The latter is all about management”. Heavy, bureaucratic, overweight management. Agile teams generally view management of any description as a bad thing, but I have blogged previously about that topic elsewhere, promoting lightweight project management as very necessary.
I concluded by saying that “I can see no advantage in the combination of DSDM Atern and PRINCE2 that I could in using DSDM Atern in a properly-controlled fashion all by itself”.

I heard no more about the subject.

I was reminded of this email and the white paper earlier today while having a chat with Craig Cockburn who has blogged about this same topic here.
As Craig says “…whilst it is possible to combine DSDM and PRINCE2, DSDM Atern by itself is actually enough”. I didn’t realise it when I wrote my email but I was agreeing with Craig completely.

Incidentally, the UK Institute for Government has recently reported on government IT and recommended a more agile approach. It is likely that DSDM will play a large part in that strategy. At least I hope so.

About aterny

Agile enthusiast and evangelist, DSDM practitioner, trainer and coach. Specialist in Agile project and programme management, governance and organisational transformation
This entry was posted in Agile and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Integrating Agile into PRINCE2

  1. Ola says:

    Interesting article, i’m currently working on a dissertation where i’m being forced to go against the use of DSDM Atern by an organization with branches kms apart and uninterested stakeholders but in my research i discovered that DSDM Atern would be almost perfect for them and i am having problems deciding a better alternative. I am currently recommending a combination of PRINCE2 and DSDM Atern or tailoring PRINCE2 into DSDM Atern which seem to be a feeble attempt at discrediting DSDM Atern. I would appreciate it if you could give a better alternative to DSDM Atern (if any) that a huge organization trying to implement a central MIS (management information system).

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