Why should project governance be any different in hybrid projects
Every project needs a sound governance structure that is effective – so why should project governance be any different in hybrid projects? And by hybrid, I mean those which have differing product development approaches – normally a combination of Agile and Waterfall (commonly called ‘traditional’)
And of course a hybrid project isn’t any different to any other project it absolutely needs good governance but I would argue it’s the type of governance that is different.
I’m not arguing that we shouldn’t have:
- an effective and supportive sponsor
- a well balanced and active steering group
- aligned project roles and responsibilities
- informative status reports and reporting cycles
as not doing so would be a recipe for project failure.
But I would encourage you to consider whether your tried and tested or favourite governance structure, roles and processes will be effective for all aspect of governance in a hybrid project.
For example, as the areas above are clearly critical to successful project delivery and outcomes what might you approach in a different way for hybrid governance?
Obviously an absolute ‘must have’ for your project. But what if they have never sponsored a hybrid project? What if they are only used to overseeing a highly flexible Agile based delivery or the more traditional project. Are they ready for the challenge and the potential for an enhanced sponsor role? Are they prepared for the additional engagement and facilitation required – or perhaps the differing reporting cycles and types of information available?
Do you, as the project manager, have the skills to support and flex your ways of working?
In all projects the composition of the steering group needs careful consideration but with hybrid even more care and attention is required. You are likely to have a more diverse set of participants with widely different agendas. Achieving the right balance (with the right individual responsibilities) can be a challenge.
It is likely in a hybrid project the ‘standard’ project roles will require a review. For example take the role of a scrum master and that of the project manager. Are the accountabilities of each clear? Who is responsible for which elements of reporting and decision making? Who is in ‘charge’ of the plan and planning? How, and where, do business decisions get made?
It’s easy when you only have one product development life cycle – it becomes slightly harder when you are blending two.
In my view this can be the really hard part to achieve successfully.
In a traditional project if you are experienced it is comparatively easy to assess the ‘to go’ position and the likelihood of benefits achievement. We know when the deliverable will be ready, we know what it will look like and how it will be used in the business. We can readily calculate when the return on investment will be achieved. It can all be compared with and tracked against the original business case.
And so, monthly reporting works.
With Agile, more formal reporting on progress frequently is seen at the end of each sprint – but… How easy at that point is it to report on the ‘to go’ or whether the benefits will be achievable in the original desired timeframe? Not as easy – as the best feature of Agile working is flexibility and continuous improvement towards the goal – which has not been fully formed.
In this instance end of sprint reporting against the current release works.
Your challenge here is: combining the two in a way that your sponsor and stakeholders can understand – particularly around desired benefits achievement. They are concepts and techniques that work – but that’s for another time.
I believe a number of the above can be resolved with effective stakeholder engagement, communication and collaboration. However it also involves something more – for example new or different government arrangements and management techniques.
Alternatively if your experience of project governance in hybrid projects is different to the above or you would like to extend the conversation…please drop me a line. You can contact me at JNichols@citi.co.uk
Below you can access some of my other blogs written on similar and related topics:
We know hybrid projects exist and the challenges these may present for their project managers but what is hybrid projects a sponsors perspective?...18 October, 2019
Is your business successfully delivering your hybrid projects? And by this I mean those which have differing product development approaches - normally mixed method Agile and Waterfall projects....27 September, 2019
Recognition of the existence of hybrid project management has risen following an increase in the number of organisations embarking on projects that address multiple commercial aspects with agile or mo...11 August, 2019