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T1: Project Management Theme: Project Management Methodologies – Agile and Prince 2 - making them work for you

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20 April 2010

Session Overview

In the current cost-cutting climate, the success of projects is becoming paramount to the reputation and future funding provision for Institutions. The biggest risk to a project is lack of understanding of how to approach and manage the work or incorrect use of a methodology.  This session explores the use of 2 methodologies, their benefits and the types of project for which they are appropriate.  The session will include real life examples and an opportunity to discuss the issues facing you and your project.  It will look at how adoption of elements of a methodology can vastly improve the success of your project.

Session Chair

Alistair Miles


  • Agile Methodology - David Flanders - JISC Programme Manager - Information Environment Team
  • Prince2 / Prince2 light - John Burke - JISC Infonet
  • Some general pitfalls of applying methodologies: Mark MacGillivray (odaesa
  • Agile Representatives: Ben Charlton (Shuffl, University of Kent); Tony Hirst, (jiscPRESS, Open University) ; Graham Klyne (Oxford University)
  • Prince2 Representatives: Len Tildsley (Shrewsbury College), Jonathan Day (Lancaster University)

What can delegates expect to learn / gain / take away from the session?

This session will provide an overview of Agile and Prince2 methodologies (with real life examples) to allow delegates an insight into ways in which they can improve management of their projects. Project managers leave the session with a greater awareness of project management methodologies and the enthusiasm to follow up further using resources highlighted in the session – i.e. Infokit on Project Management and details on Agile.

Who should attend?

Delegates with an interest expanding their knowledge base of Project Management tools and methodologies and their practical application


1-02 & 1-03

Extra content

David Flanders slides

John Burke's slides

Mark Macgillivray's slides

Rebecca Galley
15:20 on 30 July 2010 (Edited 20:57 on 31 July 2010)

Embedded Content


Christopher Brown
10:04am 26 July 2010

During this session delegates will have the opportunity of asking panel members questions related to methodologies. If you would like to post a question here, in advance of the session, then please do and I will endeavour to get them answered by the panel during the session. Alternatively, please bring your questions along on the day!

Christopher Brown
1:22pm 27 July 2010

"The biggest risk to a project is lack of understanding of how to approach and manage the work or incorrect use of a methodology." Do you agree?

Christopher Brown
1:28pm 27 July 2010 (Edited 1:28pm 27 July 2010)

tinyPM ( is a lightweight agile project management tool used by a number of JISC funded projects. Have you used it in your projects? Do you have any feedback on its usefulness? Feel free to share your experiences during this session.

Christopher Brown
10:16am 30 July 2010

During the group discussion part of this session each group was asked to give 5 project management tips and say which was their top tip. The tips are listed below and the top tips are underlined.

Tips Table 1

  1. Communicate as and when necessary (e.g. Google Talk, project blog)
  2. Delegation as part of Team Manager allocation (PRINCE2)
  3. Make sure everyone has bought into the methodology
  4. Match methodology to work cultures

Tips Table 2

  1. A Change Manager that’s business side and concentrates on the benefits
  2. Involve users at all stages even the running, delivery and supporting the project
  3. Perception mapping (Triz). Reconciling different views of requirements
  4. Project Manager needs to understand the project
  5. Understand the different motivations that all people involved in the project have
  6. Relationships are key – get to know people

Tips Table 3

  1. Initial eliciting and requirements gathering are valuable
  2. Light design early, code as late as possible
  3. Flexibility – review requirements as you go, allow change
  4. Daily responsibility for decisions about what changes to accept
  5. Beware transition to a service – dates and dependency

Tips Table 4

  1. Anti-pattern – applying methodology from wrong cultural perspective. Match approach to local culture and language
  2. Build shared understanding of how you are working
  3. JISC reporting templates do not suit Agile approaches
  4. Blogging as part of methodology – matches a recognition that change is part of the process (plus as a means of reflection)
  5. Any methodology requires discipline
  6. Test cases as basis of shared understanding of function

Tips Table 5

  1. Flexibility to engage users (lunches, video conferences)
  2. Establish regular meetings with stakeholders (formal/informal)
  3. Psychological transition of change
  4. Knowing where you are in progress (moving on from the plan)
  5. Using audio-visual-kinesthetic to engage people (coaching)


Tom Franklin
10:40am 30 July 2010

"The biggest risk to a project is lack of understanding of how to approach and manage the work or incorrect use of a methodology"

I don't agree with this.  I think that the biggest risk to a project is a lack of clear understanding of the goals or purpose of a project.  I think that this is particularly true of software projects where the project team often see the delivery of working software as the goal of the project.

The goal of the project is usually process improvement of some sort, and the lack of focus on that often means that the change management aspects are downplayed (a particular problem when using Prince) with the result that although software is delivered the project is at best a limited success and often a failure as the software is not used or does not meet the real need.

Gráinne Conole
10:44am 30 July 2010

Certainly in EU project lack of a clear and shared vision is a real issue in my view!

Gráinne Conole
11:02am 30 July 2010

We have recently being doing some work interviewing people within complex interdisciplinary projects to articulate some of the challenges and success strategies. Common shared vision and language emerge again and again as critical....

Mark Stiles
1:27pm 30 July 2010

Shared vision goes way beyond project management. At an organisational level, a prime cause of failure to implement change or sustain innovation is lack of shared vision.  One cannot operate a programme office (for example) successfully without it...

Julia Ault
5:19pm 30 July 2010

i would agree completely with Mark Stiles re Shared Vision. I would also add that even when it is generally felt that there IS a shared vision at an organisational level, many difficulties arise when the vision is unpicked and decisions are being made on how to project manage the vision. The devil as always is in the detail!

I very much enjoyed the sessions yesterday and despite the fact that at first I wondered how much I wuld be able to contribute or even get out of the sessions  -not having any real experience of project management in the same way as many other participants, I was surprised by how much I could actually contribute to the discussions and learned quite a lot in the process!

Many thanks for all your hard work in preparing and facilitating the sessions.

Ishmael Yusuf
4:02pm 12 October 2010

I'm really interested in understanding how prince2 and agile work together.  Can anyone recommend me any books?  Also are these sessions free to attend?

9:08am 13 October 2010 (Edited 9:56am 13 October 2010)

Hi Ishmael

Thanks for your comment, unfortunately the conference was held in July this year and so the sessions are no longer available, however there is a wealth of information on the outputs from the event on our virtual goody bag which can be accessed at


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