There’s several different project management methodologies and styles. But agile project management has taken the world by storm. Today, we’re going to take a look at the hybrid project management approach. Here’s everything you need to know:

What Is Hybrid Project Management?

Hybrid project management combines the best of both worlds when it comes to agile and waterfall. With agile project management, you and your project team retain flexibility and the power to adjust to changes quickly. However, this approach can be impractical for larger teams. The waterfall approach is more structured but it doesn’t produce the results until the final stages of the product development process. Hybrid project management is meant to tackle those issues by combining the two approaches together. In 2019, PMI found that 60% of companies who are fluent in agile methodologies actually use a blended approach in their product development process. So, how exactly is hybrid project management different from agile project management?

Hybrid Project Management VS. Agile Project Management

Hybrid project management is sometimes called the structured agile project management approach. The hybrid approach recognizes that some aspects of the project are certain while others are not. The goal is to use agile and waterfall approaches accordingly to the certainty level of the task. If some deliverables are certain and fixed in your client’s agreement, you should use the waterfall approach to deliver them. However, if you come up against new functionalities or features not included in the original scope – switch between project management approaches and use agile methods to deliver results. One of the most difficult aspects of hybrid project management is blending the two methods together and deciding on the project management method that’s best suited for a certain situation. As a Project Manager or a Product Owner you need to be comfortable enough with the waterfall and agile approaches so that you are able to change management styles in no time.

Why Should You Use Hybrid Project Management In Your Project?

The main reason companies use the hybrid project management approach is because they see the benefits of the agile approach but find it hard to implement it fully across their project teams. It allows businesses to stay flexible while still maintaining a clear work breakdown structure. If you’re using the agile approach for your project but notice that your team members need more structure, you might need to adjust your management style and add a little more waterfall elements for better product delivery. Hybrid project management can also be a great transition strategy for companies who have used the “traditional” development methodology for a long time. Because it can be a very hard thing to do, to simply jump into agile product development if you’ve been only using traditional, waterfall methods previously. But most importantly, the hybrid approach allows you as Project Manager or a Product Owner to adapt your project management method and approach to each new project individually. And that’s a very important part of every project managers’ job.

How To Decide On A Project Management Approach?

There’s several things you need to take into account when deciding on the right project management strategy for each specific project you manage. It’s a crucial part of planning for every project. So, here’s what you need to keep in mind when working on a project plan:

1. Project Goals

Depending on the goals for a specific project, your approach might get different. If there’s a set objective that can’t be changed due to a number of reasons, you may want to integrate more of a waterfall project management approach. Similarly, if the goals are not set in stone and might change as you gather more information about the users, the agile approach may be best. Depending on your goals, you will be able to decide how much of each project management methodology will be incorporated in your hybrid approach.

2. Deadlines

The next thing to consider when deciding if and how to implement hybrid project management in your project are deadlines. If there’s a specific date hanging over you and your team to deliver, you might want to use a more structured, “traditional” project approach with more waterfall elements. You also need to keep in mind that while the waterfall methods give you more structure and safety, it’s the agile approaches that force teams to get more work done quickly. So, consider implementing elements of both methods.

3. Team Members

Depending on your team, your project management methods and approaches may be different. There’s a lot of different types of teams with various working experiences. One of the best advantages of using hybrid project management is that you, as a Project Manager, can make your management method suit specific team members. If your team combines people who have been working in two methodologies during the software development process, you can create a new approach that will be well suited to everyone working on the project.

4. Resources

When planning your projects, you always need to take resources into account. Time constraints, software limitations, people within the team etc. all impact the work breakdown structure and will also impact how you, as a Project Manager, assign tasks and manage your team. If your resources are limited, you may want to avoid unexpected changes, therefore, leaning more towards waterfall methods. However, if you are expecting a lot of changes in business requirements, delivery deadlines, software specification etc., you may want to be using more of the agile project management methodology. Depending on your specific case, choose the best methodology to get tasks done.

5. Your Usual Project Management Method

Then, there’s the case of the project management methodologies you as a manager have used in the past. If you’ve primarily used agile, time and time again, you will naturally be better with this management method. The same goes for managers with more experience with traditional management using waterfall. Your background is very important when it comes to planning your next new project. Project Managers have varying work experiences and backgrounds, so even if your team is very fluent in agile, you yourself might not be. And that’s when hybrid project management can become your new best friend right away.

6. Your Team’s Experience With Different Project Management Approaches

As I already stated, Project Managers have multiple backgrounds and some might be better than others with specific management methods like Scrum, Kanban or Waterfall. The same goes for every member of the development team. Everyone has their own experiences and might have used more traditional or more agile methods of software development. When planning projects, you also need to take that into account. While you can choose a framework that some of the team members don’t know that well, you need to ensure they get familiar with it and that you give them time to work it out.

How To Start Managing Hybrid Projects?

If you want to implement hybrid management in your projects, you have to determine what changes you want to make. Next time you start a new project, here’s what to keep in mind:

1. Focus On What Issues You Want To Get Resolved

If you’ve only worked with agile or more traditional approaches like waterfall, going hybrid in your projects might be a challenge. If you want to make changes and experiment with the hybrid management method, you first have to figure out what issues you would like to resolve within your current development process. After all, there’s no reason to implement hybrid management if your current projects are going well. Talk to your team, ask them what they think might be improved and what bothers them when they work. If a lot of things come up, focus on one or two at a time and don’t try to fix everything right away.

2. Make Sure Your Team Is On Board With The Changes

Next, you have to get your team on board. If they have never worked with agile, scrum, waterfall etc methods, it will take them some time to get it right. Make sure you plan training for your team. Get each one team member familiar with the new management method before you move on to planning tasks and delivery.

3. Implement Various Hybrid Elements In Your Projects

Going hybrid doesn’t have to be a jump into the deep end. Like with many other things, you can gradually implement elements of the hybrid approach in your projects. The best way to approach this is to think about the business goals for the project, who will be the customer for the product, what the end users want and how that will impact your delivery. Customer and business goals are one of the most important things when planning projects. They should also be your starting point when deciding on what elements of agile, waterfall, scrum or kanban to implement in your hybrid management style.

4. Make Sure To Get Feedback During The Whole Development Process

If you’ve managed many projects, you know how important feedback is. During product delivery, during customer testing, business evaluations. Well, it’s equally important when it comes to your management style. If you’re switching from agile or waterfall to hybrid, you have to ensure you gather feedback from your team along the way. The more feedback you get, the more improvements and adjustments you can make. And that’s what will make your projects run smoothly and enable your team to deliver the best product.

If you’re looking for an agile or hybrid team to build a product that will help your business grow – contact us and let’s talk about what you need!