A good Project Manager must develop certain skills to excel in their work. Like getting to know the strong points and the not-so-good ones of his team. Or finding the best ways to correct mistakes. And, as the name might suggest, choosing the best strategy to plan a project.
In What is Project Management and How to Start your Career, we explained to you some of principles of one of the most demanded positions nowadays. Now, you get to know what is Hybrid Project Management, one of the latest trends in the field.
Project Management Strategies
A Project Manager needs to design a strategy to be able to reach the final goal in place. Although it always depends on the characteristics of the project, Project Managers use some predefined approaches or mentalities to structure their planning.
Among all the different Project Management Strategies that exist, there are two that are the ones Project Managers use the most:
Waterfall project management
With this method, the strategy behind a project is built on a step-by-step route. To get from the start to the final phase, the manager designs a plan in which every phase of the process begins only when the previous one has completely ended. Creating a flow of work that would look like this.
A single route in which the entire team involved in the project works, but not at the same time. Each individual starts only when all the previous work is finished, like a waterfall. It is the more traditional project management strategy and is mostly used in smaller projects.
It is perfect for projects that are well defined from the origin and in which very few mistakes are expected. If it wasn’t like that and every step would have to be redone lots of times and, because of that, the projects designed with this method in place would suffer big delays.
Agile project management
Opposite to the waterfall project management strategy, agile project management is designed to have all the teams working at the same time but with smaller tasks. In this case, having a completely different workflow.
Every member or section has its tasks to be fulfilled. There are different processes at the same time. And as the goals might not be that clear, it becomes more of a collaborative approach. And also, since everyone works at the same time, more prone to mistakes.
But agile project management already counts on that. Every task has multiple feedback inputs on how to be improved before the final goal is reached. Those ideas come from different teams involved or even the customers. And errors that could have been overlooked in the final version of a project designed a waterfall method can be corrected along the way in an agile one.
Alternative approaches to Project Management
These two models or mentalities are the most common ones being used. But more project management strategies exist and are applied by a lot of Project Managers.
Like Scrum project management, which some consider a version of the agile management, that uses short goals or sprints in which the team focuses to reach the final project result. Working with smaller teams, the Project Manager, or Scrum Master, is the leader that clears the possible inconveniences that might appear in the process.
Or Kanban project management, a method that was created by Japanese car manufacturer Toyota. The idea is based on dividing the production process into smaller phases better defined and easier to track. It is seen as well as an agile-like strategy. Every time that one of these phases or tasks is finished, a new one is started until the main goal is completed.
Every project has its strategy
Waterfall project management has its origins in the 1970s and was the planning strategy used by the Department of Defense of the United States for their development of military programs. Since this type of management makes every step of the process well known in advance and assures that everything works correctly before starting a new task, it is usually selected for projects that need great levels of control.
But projects do not always work with the same strategies. For instance, the Agile models are used the most for software development projects. A field in which the progress is constant, different actions can be done at the same time and meet later, and errors are used to find new ways to improve the product. Software projects also usually take advantage of customer feedback to produce a better final product for the user. Companies like Apple, IBM, or Microsoft use agile strategies to plan their projects because of that.
So, as you can see, no strategy is better than the other. It is just that each one is prepared for different project ideas. But since every Project Manager would want to have all the possible benefits in its hands, a new approach is quickly getting traction, Hybrid Project Management.
What is Hybrid Project Management?
As you can assume by the naming, Hybrid Project Management consists of using two or more different project management methodologies for one single planning. The goal is to create a new procedure more adequate to the business strategy in place.
Hybrid Project Management combines very structured planning approaches, like Waterfall is, with an Agile strategy. For some, it even gets the name of waterfall agile hybrid project management. The idea behind it is to use the Waterfall strategy for the long-term planning and the Agile one for the short-term objectives.
When using structured planning, the main problems come from the lack of room to improve the final result, since the reviewing part comes late in the process. It can only be done in the end. So, it is hard to find all of the working problems or develop innovation like that.
And with an agile approach, projects might lack concrete goals and planning and can end up depending too much on how the different parts involved are flowing. That can translate into delays in the calendar plan.
With Hybrid Project Management, tasks are optimized to have the pros of the chosen planning and mitigate all the disadvantages of using a single one. For the Project Manager, the focus becomes finding the way to arrange the project in a way in which the long-term goals are set nicely and do not create obstacles for the short-term tasks.
Long term goals mix with day-to-day tasks
In the end, the main way hybrid planning works it’s usually always the same. First of all, using a Waterfall approach to set up the long-term dynamics that every project, company, or team has. The most important goals. Like finances, project deadlines, or the organizational structure.
And in the day-to-day tasks, everyone performs following an agile methodology. Or other similar approaches previously mentioned like Scrum or Kanban. With teams working with a short-term focus and developing his work constantly and with flexibility. All the objectives that the teams set to work towards to are chosen according to the projected schemes of a Waterfall planning.
How management evaluates the wellbeing of the project is constant. And if the long-term objectives and supplies are established correctly, all the parts of the process can perform as expected without having to worry about external factors.
With that in place, the mission of a good Project Manager is to make sure all the workers are well equipped to do their work, analyse the entire project to detect the aspects that can be improved, and regularly re-evaluate the long-term targets in case they affect the short-term objectives.
Improving the Project Management dynamics
Besides improving the ways projects develop, experts consider that Hybrid Project Management can also help planning by improving the ways agile methods are applied as a whole.
Lately, lots of Project Managers are considering using Agile approaches and ditching the more traditional Waterfall ones because of the short-term benefits. But badly designed projects with agile project management are failing because of the little knowledge of the processes and the lack of clear objectives.
The blend of both Hybrid Project Management can help reduce the impact of introducing a new methodology of work in a business plan since it can be adapted to the characteristics of each project.
Despite that, Hybrid Project Management can also fail. For that not to happen, the model must be corrected once the team has experienced it. The communication must be constant, so everyone knows what is working on and how it should perform. And the mixture of approaches has to be flexible, so one doesn’t end up as an obstacle for the other.
Being up-to-date with Project Management
Ideas like Hybrid Project Management are the kind of trends that students from the MBA in International Project Management learn in their studies at BEBS. For a Project Manager, which today is one of the most required positions for any kind of company, knowing all the options to work with available at his disposal is basic.