Reflections on the Practical Side of Hybrid Project Management
In the podcast show "SpamCast", episode 607, the phrase "hybridism should be intentional" has caught my attention very much. But what does it mean? One should only intentionally decide to combine traditional and agile, meaning to say, the person in charge knows exactly what can be achieved by putting these approaches together to deliver a project. It shouldn’t be a blind business trend by trying to fit it for every and all projects, but rather a conscious choice, using the best of both worlds, but only if applicable.
So far, I've found no hard requirements for applying a hybrid approach. I've seen many ideas, suggestions, and cases but nothing like "these specific phases or processes using traditional while others will use agile". It's crystal clear there are many common and known gaps generating complaints on both sides, such as the lack of commitment with final delivery dates, poor governance and project reporting, on the agile side, and, the inefficiency of long-term planning, slow reaction to changes, likelihood to over cost and delays, low team autonomy, and a long time to launch a product, on the traditional side. These gaps could give us good hints on which could be the potential areas to mix the approaches.
I started to put my thinking cap on, imagining how it could be applicable for previous projects I've worked on, and I came up with those ideas:
For those projects with hard deadlines, clear objectives, and well-defined scope, it could be that the planning phase is based on the traditional approach. Another potential example to use the traditional way could be due to contractual clauses demanding end-to-end schedules, full auxiliary project plans, and regular cost/performance reports.
Here we know the "what", "when", "who" and "how much". On the "how", I see a clear opportunity to use a different approach. During the execution phase, for example, small sprints or a flow board could be created, fitting deliveries into the high-level schedule defined in the planning phase. Of course, the schedule created during the planning phase would have to foresee these intermediate deliveries, maybe as milestones, happening throughout the project lifecycle.
This simple example shows how it could be possible to use both traditional and agile methodologies. In terms of project monitoring and reporting, executives and contract managers would be happy with the information provided, and in parallel, the project would have small pieces of usable deliverables in short intervals, instead of receiving everything at the very end. It could shorten the feedback cycle, increasing satisfaction, and reducing risks and rework.
Few hybrid frameworks and models are starting to appear, like the PMLC and Fleks.
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