The world of business has seen no shortage of evolution in the last few decades. Technology has come forwards in leaps and bounds, shaking up the way we conduct business, invest, and communicate in virtually every global industry. More than that, priorities have shifted, along with what most organizations consider the most valuable corporate skills to have on your resume.
‘Project management’ has become an essential skill in modern business, crucial for both daily goals and long-term corporate strategies. A manager who can focus on the viability of project work while also managing different teams, resources, stakeholders, and more will find themselves in high demand, especially if they can boast the right project management qualifications.
Whereas management is usually seen as a skill that is developed on the job over several years, the demand for skilled project managers has led to a booming marketplace of project management frameworks that can be studied by anyone, regardless of their background or level of experience. These methodologies offer demonstrably effective best practices and instructions not only on conceiving, planning, and overseeing projects, but also dealing with the numerous disruptive elements found in typical project environments.
Within this sphere, there are a few names that shine particularly brightly, one of which is Agile. This is more of a loose way of doing things than a set methodology, focusing on flexibility, short term goals, and iterative delivery. As such, a number of different approaches to Agile have emerged, with the two most popular being PRINCE2 Agile and AgilePM.
But for individuals and organizations interested in Agile project management, which option is superior? Which students are better suited to each framework? Let’s take a closer look!
What Is AgilePM?
As we mentioned earlier, Agile is a relatively fluid approach to project management. It actually started out as a development methodology, but became more business-oriented as time went by and more users began relying on IT to power their organizations. Even so, ‘Agile’ is still an umbrella term, with several different versions vying for popularity.
The most popular set version of the Agile methodology is Agile Project Management, also known as ‘AgilePM’. Originally conceived as the ‘Dynamic Systems Development Method (DSDM)’, AgilePM offers an excellent introduction to Agile ways of working and is a great option for newcomers.
What Is PRINCE2 Agile?
‘PRojects IN Controlled Environments 2 (PRINCE2)’ is the world’s most popular project management methodology. It provides users with a clearly defined set of Principles, Processes, and Themes, and advocates a clear emphasis on the ‘Business Case’ of projects not only during the planning stage, but throughout the project lifecycle. It is also fairly closely aligned with the PMBOK Guide, a comprehensive publication on project management that is updated regularly.
A few years ago, AXELOS combined PRINCE2 with Agile to create ‘PRINCE2 Agile’. Developed partly out of user demand (and partly because AXELOS was eager to get an Agile project to market at the time), PRINCE2 Agile offers the best of both approaches. It mixes the tight controls and prioritization of PRINCE2 with the flexibility and adaptiveness of Agile and has gradually developed an impressive pool of practitioners since its release.
How Are AgilePM and PRINCE2 Agile Different?
While both frameworks offer best practices based on Agile, they have quite a few distinct differences:
A focus on PRINCE2
The biggest difference, obviously, is the first component of PRINCE2 Agile. What is key about this is the fact that PRINCE2 Agile is essentially a version of PRINCE2 which also happens to utilize Agile ways of working, rather than a complete mixture of the two. Because of this, studying PRINCE2 Agile requires an existing awareness of PRINCE2 project management, and is not necessarily as welcoming to newcomers as AgilePM.
A crucial element of project management is being able to tailor and alter your practices in order to suit a specific environment or group of stakeholders. The complexity of PRINCE2 Agile makes it a little harder to customize, though it does offer practices specifically geared towards this. It also has more comprehensive advice on project management in general, which can leave practitioners better prepared for different project requirements. AgilePM, on the other hand, focuses on managing and defining projects incrementally, having practitioners engage in testing, feedback, and prioritization to gain insight into what needs to be changed and how. PRINCE2 Agile does this too, but mostly on lower-level tasks. In short, while PRINCE2 Agile has the capacity for tailoring, AgilePM makes it a more fundamental aspect of project management.
Ease of adopting
Of the two, AgilePM is undoubtedly more simple and straightforward. It is also easier to take on if a company does not yet utilize a specific project management or delivery system. On the other hand, PRINCE2 Agile is relatively complex, with students typically requiring at least some familiarity with concepts like Agile, PRINCE2, and Scrum. That being said, it is generally less painful to adopt for companies that already follow the PRINCE2 methodology.
Short vs. long term
PRINCE2 Agile is all about long term planning, with a few Agile elements mixed in at lower levels. AgilePM, however, is more about immediate flexibility and adaptability for the sake of helping products succeed in unpredictable business environments. That is not to say that AgilePM cannot be used on long term projects, but it does have more of a focus on short term elements
As we mentioned previously, PRINCE2 is the world’s most popular framework for project management. As an individual, you can be sure that a PRINCE2 Agile certification will stand out on your CV. Many higher-level management positions even list PRINCE2 certifications as basic requirements. While AgilePM is certainly an effective framework, it is generally less well known
The value of earning a qualification comes in verifying your knowledge of a valuable subject. This can enable you to reach higher-level job roles, as well as help your business enjoy more impressive ROIs. However, it is always worth taking the training costs involved into account, and this is where AgilePM and PRINCE2 Agile differ. The latter is generally more expensive to study and become fully certified in. Having said that, the greater recognition that PRINCE2 Agile enjoys means that it has the potential to offer greater financial rewards than AgilePM
Should I Choose AgilePM or PRINCE2 Agile?
Before we answer this question, it is worth pointing out that there are quite a few similarities between the two frameworks. Both have strongly-defined rules, as well as set processes and lifecycles. They focus on delivering successful products, albeit via differing tools, techniques, and management structures. Either can serve a company extremely well.
The best choice generally depends on your familiarity with PRINCE2, as well as Agile management in general. If you are looking for a framework to adopt from scratch, then AgilePM will be the easier choice. It is simpler for outsiders to get into, and is also far more flexible, leaving practitioners with room to expand their knowledge and incorporate other best practices down the line.
However, if you are already familiar with PRINCE2, or if your organization already practices it, then PRINCE2 Agile will suit you more closely. Remember, PRINCE2 Agile is more of an extension of PRINCE2 than anything else. It looks at how Agile can be added to PRINCE2 projects, rather than advocating an entirely different methodology. The PRINCE2 Foundation qualification is even a viable prerequisite for sitting the PRINCE2 Agile Certification exam.