6 key areas for successful mixed method Agile and Waterfall projects
Is your business successfully delivering your hybrid projects? And by this I mean those which have differing product development approaches – normally a combination of Agile and Waterfall (traditional). Are your executives and stakeholders 100% confident that their project is on track and the benefits are achievable?
If your answer is ‘yes’ then this series of ‘hybrid’ project management related blogs is not for you.
But if you have even the slightest of doubts or believe that project performance could be enhanced – please read on.
Key considerations for successful mixed method Agile and waterfall delivery
We believe there are six key areas to consider when running projects with more than one product development approach:
Capability: the organisation’s capability and understanding of managing and working in hybrid projects – or agile-waterfall environments
Governance and sponsorship: the differing governance, reporting and leadership requirements
Stakeholders: the differing stakeholder engagement needs and roles
Communications: the more and more varied communications required
Planning: the more complex planning environment, and
Change management: differing change management approaches – particularly for adoption.
I can already hear the question ‘ …but surely these are ‘normal’ project management concerns…’. And my answer, ‘Well yes, of course, but …’
How many project managers have actually had the opportunity to manage a mix of projects using either an agile product development approach or the more traditional waterfall – let alone a combined hybrid approach? Although I am sure this is increasing in number, especially for the more experienced project managers – it’s almost certainly not as many as are needed in today’s world.
Why should we expect project managers who are used to managing one type to understand the consequences of, or simply be knowledgeable about, managing the other?
Especially if you agree with me that
- appropriate levels of capability are critical
- understanding the strengths and weaknesses of your project community is essential,and
- providing development and support where required is vital
to achieving enhanced project performance and successful outcomes.
Let’s start by considering the enhanced knowledge, competences and approach that a hybrid project manager needs.
Clearly, if a project manager has only ever managed projects using one, or other, of the approaches then gaining knowledge of the less familiar approach is a vital first step! But unless this is discussed in the context of the organisation’s environment and tempered by the level of knowledge required (they do not need to be the ‘technical expert’) then the full benefit will not be gained.
Key competence areas
As would be expected the same set of competences are required by a hybrid project manager as any other project manager but in some competence areas a heightened level of expertise will be beneficial.
From our experience these areas include:
- Stakeholder engagement and communications management
- Requirements and solutions management
But exactly which, and by how much, will depend on the capability of the organisation and the individual, and the demands of the project.
While in our opinion there are no highly significant changes to the way a hybrid project manager should set about managing their project – there are some important differences in emphasis and style in a number of areas. For example, while ‘Integrity’ has always been (and remains) the most important characteristic – other areas such as ‘Decisiveness’ will require more attention in a hybrid environment.
In order to manage any capability gap we must first be able to measure it and, secondly, agree a development plan. In our view this applies not only to the individual; but also can be magnified at organisation level where any common themes emerge.
This, of course, requires us to assess individual and community capability, identify project characteristics and then establish best-fit pairings.
At CITI we have been researching capability and performance in project management for over 25 years which more recently has included Agile and hybrid project management.
If you would like to find out more about hybrid project management (or Mixed method Agile and Waterfall) and/or assessing capabilities or simply extend the discussion please get in touch. I can be contacted on JNichols@citi.co.uk
Below you can access some of my other blogs written on similar and related topics:
There appears to be three factors that demand special attention to enable organisations to make the best use of the evolving agile approaches to delivery and change management....18 June, 2018
A perfect storm of circumstances in UK public sector project management is helping open the door to agile methods, and the promise of PRINCE2 Agile....30 March, 2017