Recently, large corporations have started noticing that in-company projects are failing and failing badly. Worse, information technology (IT) projects are causing companies themselves to collapse. A PwC study found that failed IT projects cost the United States as much as $150 billion in lost revenue.
Why is this happening in 2022? According to analysts, it’s the same issue that has plagued corporate projects since companies began: team dynamics and lack of leadership. Although this problem has been known for a long time, new steps aimed to combat the problem are beginning to surface.
Hybrid Project Management
The definition of hybrid according to Merriam-Webster is “having or produced by a combination of two or more distinct elements.” A hybrid car uses both gas and electric fuel. A mule is a hybrid of a horse and a donkey. Hybrid project management, also known as blended project management, involves taking two or more different project management methodologies and creating a new and more effective management style.
The most common management systems in use today are Waterfall and Agile, although there are others that are variants of these two systems. These management systems start by allocating the project’s team, defining how it is budgeted, and appropriating the resources to complete the project from inception to delivery.
- Waterfall is considered the classical project management approach. Projects begin by dividing them into phases, with phases then subdivided into tasks. Then you work in the opposite direction: complete tasks first, and once all tasks for a given stage wrap up, you move to the next phase. Waterfall management works well for projects with defined goals and known outcomes.
- Agile management is cyclical. The project is ongoing or working from a backlog or deadlocked project. The project requires input from outside sources or teams working independently of the main project. There is usually no end goal, or it is not an Agile project. Structured Agile or Hybrid Agile may divide the project into phases, but it utilizes Agile cycles within each one.
Other systems currently in use are refinements of the Waterfall and Agile systems. Critical Path and Critical Chain methods are variants of the Waterfall method and outline ways to complete tasks and allocate resources.
Scrum, Kanban, and Extreme Programming are systems devised to help implement Agile management, essentially structuring the Agile System and facilitating communication between clients, team members, and other project stakeholders.
None of these systems is superior. A hardware development project that requires each component to be completed and delivered before the design for the next one begins would be handled well by a Waterfall management system but likely fail under the loose control of an Agile-based system. On the other hand, a new app design resisting development and marketing would never survive a rigid Waterfall management framework. It would require the constant churn of an Agile management program to allow multiple inputs and changes to the program.
Benefits of a Hybrid Project Management System
A hybrid approach can resolve issues that many IT projects face. Within the clearly outlined steps of a Waterfall project system, a project manager can make contingency plans to shift into Agile mode if things get backlogged. When there are supply chain issues, a hybrid model can accommodate problems by outsourcing or flexing deadlines.
Hybrid management also allows managers to get the best out of their teams. Working on a step-by-step plan can leave too many team members spinning their wheels—if one team is waiting for another, they may feel they have nothing to do. A hybrid system can accommodate downtimes by letting teams work on backlogged projects.
Implementing a Hybrid Project Management System
IT project managers must familiarize themselves with both management system types. They must be comfortable with how both work and which is best for what kind of project. Upper management needs to understand the new hybrid approach because old-school executives may be wedded to old-school org charts.
You’ll need to allocate your workers as well. Some people need the security and structure of strict deadlines and set tasks and will not handle the flow of agile project design well. There’s no reason they can’t work in your hybrid setting, but you as a manager are the one who needs to accommodate their work requirements.
Finally, you and your team need to determine which tasks are allocated and to whom and how progress is measured. With a hybrid system, setting phases or benchmarks are critical to track that the project remains on time. All members of the team must agree on metrics and measurement standards. The hybrid methodology requires benchmarking all phases of the project and any ancillary work that spins off from the main project.
Advance Your Education in Project Management
If you’ve been thinking of moving up in the professional world, and want to know more about hybrid management systems, obtaining an MBA in Project Management or MBA in Project Management in Information Technology can help give you the specialized knowledge to effectively manage IT and non-IT projects and implementations.
In addition to gaining business acumen in economics, accounting, and financial management, the MBA’s provide instruction in the Agile project management system and industry-specific skills like software project management, risk management, and emerging technologies.