Scrum in a Prince2 Shell21. September, 2010
Agile approaches and Scrum in particular seem to mature more and more and become accepted also in non-software domains. There are also quite a few articles around about combining Scrum and Prince2, which I found quite interesting and encouraging. I might be able to contribute another example soon: With my current client, I am supporting a project to develop and establish a Prince2-based Project Management methodology.
So far, we’ve been using Prince2 ourselves (yeah, let’s eat our own dog food!), but it’s been a bit of a mad chicken-and-egg scramble: Educating and coaching the team members on Prince2, while developing elements and applying the same and other elements in parallel.
The thought has grown slowly: Wouldn’t Scrum be a much better fit for this particular project (and potentially a few more for this organization)? While our project objective is well defined, a lot of our actual products evolve based on discussions and as the team matures. The handbook for example is turning out much different (but probably better) than originally envisioned. There’s a significant level of exploring involved, also in areas like collaboration tool support. The project environment is somewhat unpredictable with changing resource availabilities all the time – you can’t plan for more than one or 2 weeks anyway. Planning and tracking progress are somewhat difficult with changing products and resource availability. Plus, some of the team members have expressed interest in Scrum…
I thought this through for myself a bit, and as a first little test transferred our “open” products from the product checklist into a Product Backlog. That was quite an interesting exercise. It worked well, though the perspective is quite different. Using Prince2 we defined a set of templates, their format and stuff in product descriptions. Now translating this to user stories requires to put on the shoes of the respective role much more, plus elaborate on the value-add. I found that there are very few examples on non-Software-development user stories around, so I’ll discuss a few of them later.
After mulling this over quite a bit, I have a pretty good idea how we could use Scrum to enhance our project. I am also aware that there are a few risks involved here. The biggest one is probably burdening the team (and others in the organization) while introducing a Prince2-based methodology with another framework, which might be a good fit with Prince2 but is still fundamentally different.
Bottom line: I will present my initial suggestions to the project team and point out the risks (both potential benefits and threats). I will then ask them to make the choice whether they would like to give it a try or not. A “no” will definitely be accepted. I will keep you posted on this journey which I hope you’ll find interesting as well.