Is Prince2 an Agile or Traditional PM framework?

I think that Prince2 is definitely a traditional, sequential project management framework. It believes in lots of documentation, very rigid boundaries between project phases, really formal procedures in handing over work, managing the developers closely and monitoring and controlling.

I really see no flexibility or adaptability in the process once the project starts. Before any work is done, there is a way to tailor the Prince2 ways of working to suit the project’s need, but in my opinion, that’s a too early stage to know what is going to work for a particular project.

Although Prince2 has a notion of iterative development through the concepts of “Next Stage,” this is not flexible enough to be considered agile. At the boundary of a stage, project plans are updated, end stage report and next stage plans have to be created, which entails a lot of documentation. This is very far away from Agile’s “barely enough” view on creating documents and plans.

Instead of adaptation, the Prince2 way believes in monitoring and controlling. The execution of the plan has to be carefully monitored, and once deviations are experienced, they have to be addressed using corrective measures. In an Agile view, in such situations adaptation is needed, flexibility in the process and not blindly trying to stick to a plan created up front.

Again, like in traditional project management methods, customers, end users are not addressed. The goal is to stick to the plan, deliver what was expected within time and budget. Values, as such are not mentioned, and it is outside of the scope of this method to measure how useful the product is.

If we contrast Prince2 to the Agile Manifesto, we can see that most of the Agile values are not addressed in Prince2:

  • Individuals and interactions over processes and tools: Prince2 is a comprehensive process, where interactions usually happen in a very ceremonial way, e.g. request to initiate or deliver a project.
  • Working software over comprehensive documentation: lots of documentation at every phase of the project lifecycle
  • Customer collaboration over contract negotiation: not exactly addressed
  • Responding to change over following a plan: stick to the plan, monitor progress and apply corrective measures if necessary

Because of these features, I really think Prince2 does not qualify as an Agile project management process.


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