Project Management ABC: H for Hybrid Project Management
The best of both worlds
Classic project management follows a clear structure and an exact plan in which all individual steps to be carried out are laid down from the beginning. Those who know this kind of plan can move confidently towards their goal. However, it is sometimes necessary to be able to react flexibly, for example if the goal to be achieved cannot be clearly defined at the beginning of a project. This is when agile methods are needed. But why shouldn’t there be a method that combines both approaches, i.e. has a precise plan and remains flexible at the same time? This is where hybrid project management comes in.
Hybrid project management is the combination of different project management methods or the use of specific elements from different project management approaches. The aim in doing this is to use the advantages of the different approaches and avoid the respective disadvantages. Usually, the term hybrid refers to the combination of classic and agile methods. However, there are also combinations of different agile approaches, for example when Scrumban is used, or of different classic approaches, for example when project planning with PRINCE2 is combined with a waterfall system.
The goal of a project manager is to achieve the best possible project result: projects should be completed on the planned date within the planned budget, the result should be satisfactory for the customer and teamwork should function smoothly. At the same time, traceability, documentation and security often have to be considered. Therefore, in most companies, a certain methodology has already grown over time or is even predetermined. Hybrid project management can help to fulfil these different requirements and at the same time use sensible elements of different approaches, individually adapted to the respective needs. In this way, the advantages of the different approaches can be profited from, so that a better result can be achieved and the goal can be reached with lower costs.
Combination of classic and agile project management
Hybrid project management is usually understood as a combination of classic and agile methods. This means, for example, that a classically executed project is supplemented with agile methods for individual processes. This is to prevent employees from being overloaded and to make priorities and responsibilities clear.
Advantages of classic project management:
- Fixed, familiar structures
- Planning reliability
- Attention to detail
- Defined tasks and responsibilities
Disadvantages of classic project management:
- Little flexibility
Advantages of agile project management:
- Flexible and dynamic
- Communication at the same level
- Regular feedback giving and therefore faster project optimisations
Disadvantages of agile project management:
- High complexity
- working completely agile is not possible in many companies
- Lack of documentation
Roles in hybrid project management
In classic projects, the project manager is responsible for the planning and implementation and thus also for the success of the project. In agile projects, however, the role of the project manager does not exist. Instead, with Scrum, for example, there is a product owner who, among other things, combines product and project management tasks, and a Scrum master who takes responsibility for adherence to the process. While the project manager is superior to the project team, neither the product owner nor the scrum master is. Rather, in agile projects, the development team is responsible. Since both approaches have such different roles and responsibilities, all roles from the different approaches can be represented in a project, but roles, tasks and responsibilities should be precisely defined at the beginning of a hybrid project to prevent misunderstandings.
Frequently used approaches
There are different ways to use hybrid project management. On the one hand, different methods can be used in parallel. This means, for example, that some company divisions generally work classically and others agilely. It can also mean that individual projects or project parts are generally carried out classically or agilely. On the other hand, the methods can also be used intermixed, for example by combining classic project planning with agile sprints. Here are some methods that are frequently used:
Work packages, costs and project deadlines are planned classically according to the waterfall method. Work packages to be processed are then handled according to Scrum methods. This provides more flexibility than in classic projects.
2. Critical Chain Scrumban:
The project is planned with the critical chain method from classic project management. Individual work packages are then processed in an agile manner using a combination of Scrum and Kanban boards. With the critical path including important milestones, the project duration and resource requirements can be well estimated. At the same time, the agile work packages allow projects to be completed more quickly with this method.
This method combines the agile methods of Scrum and Kanban, making it ideal for product development. A Kanban board is used with the process from Scrum. The resulting Scrumban boards provide a good overview of the workflow while optimising processes.
How does hybrid project management work?
To determine the right combination of methods for your project, you can proceed as follows:
1. Define requirements
First determine what the requirements are, i.e. what is needed in the context of the project and what goals are to be achieved.
2. Define methods
The first step helps you to define the methods that best fit the requirements and goals, but also your project team. Also define roles, tasks and responsibilities in this step.
3. Test the methods in a pilot project
If you want to be sure that the selected combination of methods really works optimally, you can test them in a pilot project. This can also be a fictitious scenario. The only important thing is that you can analyse and evaluate the selected methods.
4. Evaluate and adapt methods during application
Hybrid project management thrives on the individual adaptability to the respective needs. You should also take advantage of this opportunity during the project work by regularly checking whether the methods are working as desired and swapping or adapting them if necessary. In this way, you continuously improve the project work.
- The project structure can consist of different combinations of methods and is thus individually adaptable to the respective company and project. This can lead to tailor-made solutions.
- Possibility to react quickly to new situations while at the same time having planning reliability.
- The goal of the project is always the focus of activities
- Communication between project members is improved
- Applicable to all projects – regardless of specifications, size, complexity, sector, etc.
- Knowledge and competence of staff in all approaches and methods required
- More time needed to find the right combination of methods before the start of the project
- Responsibilities, roles and tasks should be clarified at the beginning of the project to avoid misunderstandings and problems
- More complex application compared to using only classical or agile methods
1. Start slowly
Your classical project management works well, but you want to complement it with agile methods? Then start slowly with integrating agile techniques. This way you and your project team will learn to deal with the more complex hybrid project management and can try out the different methods at your leisure.
2. Train project team members in both methods
Many project team members are well versed in either the classic or agile methodology. However, to get the most out of hybrid project management, they should have a lot of knowledge and experience in both methods. Therefore, you should train your staff in both methodologies.
Every company and every project is unique. Therefore, individual methodologies may not always work equally well. Therefore, be courageous and willing to experiment so that you can always decide which methods are best suited to the tasks at hand.
Each company is individual and not every method fits into every company environment. Therefore, every company, every sector and every project needs its own individual hybrid project management. However, with a lot of understanding from both the stakeholders and the project team, a suitable combination can be found for each company and project that will improve your project work.
Flexible project management software can support you in the application of classic, agile and also hybrid project methods, for example by carrying out classic project planning with a Gantt chart, but then planning the individual tasks with a Kanban board.
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