Hybrid project management: passing trend or a project delivery breakthrough?

Cape Town, 21 Jan 2019
Read time 3min 10sec

As industries and customer needs change, the way we manage our projects need to change along with it. What used to work 10 years ago, unfortunately, cannot guarantee success today. If we're not flexible in the way we approach project management, we will get left behind in a world where continuous improvement has become a necessity to survive.

For a very long time, the waterfall method dominated the world of project management, as everyone adopted the understanding that a project consisted of distinct and sequential phases, where a lot of planning needed to be done upfront and work could only begin once all scope elements were completely understood. This caused some frustration, as technology advances led to increased market demand for change and organisations needed to find a way to respond faster in order to retain their competitive position.

In the early 2000s, agile emerged as the exciting new kid on the block, one that would revolutionise the software development industry in particular. It promised shorter turnarounds and improved customer satisfaction, thanks to a project team's ability to deliver something quicker while being able to absorb new or changing requirements. It seemed to be the answer everyone had been looking for, but from a practicality standpoint, it wasn't that easy for organisations to make the change to become fully agile.

This led to the heated waterfall vs agile debate, with most organisations feeling they could only select one of the two based on which they felt would be the closest match to their specific needs.

Now enter a new way of thinking: why not merge the best of both worlds? After all, nobody ever said everything about the waterfall method was bad, and we've certainly seen that agile has its own set of challenges. Hybrid project management allows a team to spend the needed time on planning and analysis upfront, but divides the development cycle into smaller deliveries or sprints.

In essence, with hybrid project management, your planning is aligned with waterfall principles, where a work breakdown structure (WBS) is created to identify the smaller, more manageable components of work, while execution is done in the agile way to allow for faster delivery of a minimal viable product (MVP), which can be presented to customers.

In the hybrid world, the initial project plan shouldn't take too long to create, as it's only done at a high level. You'll also find there are certain elements that'll have a higher level of certainty, such as training, marketing and procurement, while development in comparison will have a high level of uncertainty. This level of uncertainly may create some anxiety at first, but this is where agile practices come into play to review and finalise the expected goals and outcomes, which in turn inform user stories and sprint planning.

Analyze has seen the hybrid method in practice and can attest to its effectiveness within a variety of different contexts. Therefore, the company does not see it as a passing trend. Analyze feels it's a real solution for those organisations struggling with the effort involved in becoming fully agile.

If you're interested in discussing how the Analyze team can help run your next project in a hybrid manner, give the company a call on (021) 447 5696 or e-mail info@analyze.co.za. Analyze is always on the lookout for opportunities to put new concepts into practice.

Editorial contacts
Analyze Consulting Ndilisa Majola (+27) 21 447 5696 ndilisa@analyze.co.za