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Success Story: PRINCE2 + Scrum Delivers ONTRAK on Time

How to Use Scrum with PRINCE2 Project Management

11 March 2014


In this article, I present how I used Scrum effectively in a project that was managed using the PRINCE2 project management method. First I will provide an insight into PRINCE2, and then I will describe how I used Scrum to deliver business value consistently to the customer.


Our Sales and Marketing department was finding it difficult to manage its leads and accounts on Microsoft Excel worksheets. The team was expanding, and people were on the move constantly with client visits, meetings, product demos, etc. As per our policy for projects, the Sales and Marketing department created a business case with a demand for an online application that would enable them to manage their marketing and sales functions more effectively. The business case was approved and the project "ONTRAK" was underway.

Introduction to PRINCE2

PRINCE2 (PRojects IN Controlled Environments) is a structured project management method based on experience drawn from thousands of projects -- and from the contributions of countless project sponsors, project managers, project teams, academics, trainers, and consultants (source: OGC Manual, page 3). PRINCE2 is a nonproprietary method and has emerged worldwide as one of the most widely accepted methods for managing projects (source: OGC Manual, page 4).

Project board

The project board has authority and responsibility for the project within the instructions (initially contained in the project mandate), set by corporate or program management. Together, the executive, senior user(s), and senior supplier(s) make up the project board.

The executive represents the business interests and primarily concentrates on value for money. The senior user represents the user interests -- the user(s) who would be using the project's products to realize the benefits as outlined in the business case. The senior supplier represents the interests of either the internal department or the external vendor who undertakes the product development. The senior supplier brings in required technical expertise and resources to deliver the solution.

PRINCE2 processes

There are seven processes in PRINCE2, which provide the set of activities required to direct, manage, and deliver a project successfully. They are described below, with their main purposes:
  • Starting up a project (SU): Ensure that the prerequisites for initiating a project are in place by answering the question, "Do we have a viable and worthwhile project?" It also ensures that all necessary authorities exist for initiating the project; individuals are appointed who will undertake the work, etc.
  • Directing a project (DP): Enable the project board to be accountable for the project's success by making key decisions and exercising overall control while delegating day-to-day management of the project to the project manager.
  • Initiating a project (IP): Establish solid foundations for the project, enabling the organization to understand the work that needs to be done to deliver the project's products before committing to a significant spend.
  • Controlling a stage (CS): Assign work to be done, monitor such work, deal with issues, report progress to the project board, and take corrective actions to ensure that the stage remains within tolerance.
  • Manage product delivery (MPD): Control the link between the project manager and the team manager(s) by placing formal requirements on accepting, executing, and delivering project work.
  • Manage stage boundary (MSB): Enable the project board to be provided with sufficient information by the project manager so that it can be used to review the success of the current stage, approve the next stage plan, review the updated project plan, and confirm continued business justification and acceptability of the risks.
  • Closing a project (CP): Provide a fixed point at which acceptance for the project product is confirmed, and recognize that objectives set out in the original project initiation documentation have been achieved (or approved changes to the objectives have been achieved), or that the project has nothing more to contribute (source: OGC Manual).
In the sections below, I describe how we mapped PRINCE2 and Scrum together in a task-by-task manner.

Task 1: Roles and responsibilities mapping
The senior user maps to the product owner.
The senior user is responsible for specifying the needs of those who will use the project's products. The senior user is ideally placed as a product owner. The senior user provides the customer's quality expectations and defines acceptance criteria for the project. The acceptance criteria forms the Definition of Done.

Task 2: Product-based planning that creates the product backlog
The product breakdown structure maps to the product backlog.
The philosophy behind producing plans in PRINCE2 is that the products required are identified first, and only then are the activities, dependencies, and resources required to deliver those products identified. This is known as "product-based planning" and is used for the project plan, the stage plan, and, optionally, the team plan (source: OGC Manual, page 64).

Modules are mapped to epics, sub-modules are mapped to features, and requirements are mapped to user stories.

Task 3: Tailoring PRINCE2 to suit to the project environment
PRINCE2 stages map to Scrum iterations.

Tailoring refers to the appropriate use of PRINCE2 on any given project, ensuring that there is the correct amount of planning, control, governance, and use of the processes and themes (source: OGC Manual, page 215). The challenge here is to map PRINCE2 stage duration to Scrum iteration cycles. Scrum iterations are typically two to four weeks. If each PRINCE2 management stage duration can be tailored to suit this duration, then you can easily adopt Scrum. PRINCE2 management stages and Scrum iterations can't overlap. A stage's deliverables are the iteration backlog items.
Task 4: Authoring work packages (backlog items)
Work packages map to backlog items.

PRINCE2 allocates work using work packages. The work packages are derived from product-based planning. Each work package is mapped to a backlog item. The senior user drives the prioritization of backlog items. The team picks up backlog items, does the poker estimation, and the product backlog is force-ranked. The iteration backlog is then created for the iteration, i.e PRINCE2 stage, based on selected backlog items.

Task 5: Ensuring effective delivery by synchronizing MPD+CS+MSB processes
End-stage assessments map to sprint reviews.

At the end of the current stage, in PRINCE2, we plan for the next stage in the manage stage boundary process. This perfectly maps to Scrum. At the end of the sprint, the sprint review is held to demonstrate the potential product increment to the customer. At this time, the PRINCE2 business case is updated with the benefits realized by delivering the product increment. The next-stage plan is generated and sent for approval. The next-stage plan corresponds to the next iteration. The team performs an end-stage assessment, i.e., a sprint retrospective.



By effectively tailoring PRINCE2 and using Scrum, we were able to deliver our product successfully to our internal customer.

Managing Successful Projects with PRINCE2. Published by TSO (The Stationery Office). © Crown Copyright 2009.

Opinions represent those of the author and not of Scrum Alliance. The sharing of member-contributed content on this site does not imply endorsement of specific Scrum methods or practices beyond those taught by Scrum Alliance Certified Trainers and Coaches.

Article Rating

Current rating: 3.1 (10 ratings)
The community welcomes feedback that is constructive and supportive, in the spirit of better understanding and implementation of Scrum.


Jonathan Nunn, CSM, 5/5/2015 3:26:31 PM
This is really helpful. When I did my Scrum Master training I couldn't help thinking that Scrum and Prince2 weren't incompatible. I'd have to look at my Prince2 manual to check I agree with the role alignments but definitely a great start.

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