Scrum Masters normally do not have access to a Project Board but in my opinion, they should. With PRINCE2 the Project Board is accountable for the project's success. Within the Project Board there are three separate roles:

  • The Executive is accountable for the project's Business Case.
  • The Senior User represents the people whom will use the product. He is accountable that the product meets the needs of these people.
  • The Senior Supplier represents the people whom will create the product. He is accountable for the quality of the product.

The project manager is NOT accountable for the project's success. He is only accountable for managing the project's process. His job is to execute the plan agreed on by the Project Board. As long as the project manager does not exceed his authority the Project Board is very helpful. Why?

  • Accountability is not transferable It just isn't so. You might assign other people within the project. The fact remains that if something goes wrong, the people which are accountable bare the consequences. Not the project manager but his boss, not the team but the supplier's director.
  • Accountability creates responsibility The project manager executes the project plan as approved by the Project Board. If something goes wrong the Project Board has the resposibility and also the 'power' to help out. Problems shouldn't be the project manager's problem. In fact they are the Project Board's problems, because these people are accountable. A bit of an oversimplification maybe, the project manager still has problems, but the principle is sound and very effective.
  • The Project Board process is mostly an informal process The 'Directing a Project' process within PRINCE2 describes a number formal documents and procedures. It describes only the formal part of directing a project. The formal part isn't that important and should be executed as light (agile) as possible. The real process take place informally, in meetings and discussions and only if needed ('management by exception'). So this process doesn't take much time if executed properly.

To me Project Boards are agile because:

  • they are the ultimate impediment removers;
  • they let me focus on the project's process;
  • take only a little bit of my time, since the process is mostly informal and would be executed anyhow (if the Project Board wouldn't exist the same progress reports would be asked);
  • the distinction between Executive and Senior User for me is a much better fit than only a Product Owner (however sometimes the Executive and SU role can be combined within one person);
  • the Scrum scoping and reporting processes are a perfect fit from a Project Board point of view, so there's very little need to amend the Scrum method.

I've managed a PRINCE2/Scrum project for 8 months now and the Project Board is really helping me out when problems arise. It's great!