Does the increasing predominance of agile methodologies for I.T. projects spell the end for ‘traditional’ project management methodologies like Prince2?
If you have a vested interest in doing so, then sure, you can construct an argument to make any project management methodology sound compatible with agile development, in the same way that you can still play tennis with a wooden racquet.
The agile mindset is different, however. For example, in Prince2, an attempt is made to define everything up front to iron our as much uncertainty as possible (think product definitions and product based planning). Once you have a plan, then you stick to
it, confronting possible changes via Change Authority and Change Control Process. This flies in the face of what agile is about.
There are some obvious benefits that an agile approach has over the traditional way of dealing with large and complex IT projects, such as those commonly found in investment banking. It’s much better to have discussions about the actual software itself rather
than arguing about interpretations of a Word document before anyone has actually seen anything working. It’s also a lot better to have increased involvement of the customer in designing the end product, a blinding glimpse of the obvious if ever there was
But there are drawbacks to the purely agile approach. If I had just met the person who was going to build my house, I would be uncomfortable handing them a blank cheque and telling them to get on with it, and at their own pace. In the real world, you do
need to know roughly what you’re going to get and when.
So, whilst being a scrum master is now much more a la mode than being a Prince2 practitioner, the real secret of success is drawing on the plus points of both approaches to get the benefits of agile – speed, customer focus and absence of bureaucracy – together
with the predictability and control of more traditional approaches.
Better results, faster, but under control.