Hybrid Project Management

What is Hybrid Project Management, what are the goals underlying it and what examples are there?

Hybrid Project Management definition

Hybrid Project Management refers to the combination of different project management methods or the use of individual elements of different project management approaches. Alternative terms are often bimodal, selective, adaptive or multimodal project management, but the expressions emphasise different aspects differently:

  • The term “hybrid” stands for the combination, mixing or crossing of “something”. In a technical environment, a hybrid refers to the combination of different technologies, such as in the automotive industry for a drive with gasoline and electricity. Applied to project management, a hybrid approach thus describes the integration of different methods (e.g. PMI and Scrum) or the use of different elements of different methods (e.g. user stories from Scrum and software specifications from V-Modell XT).
  • Bimodal project management propagates a combination of exactly two management systems.
  • Selective project management addresses a selection of the most suitable elements from different methods and approaches.
  • Adaptive project management focuses on an approach adapted to the project and the associated challenges. As such, the term is somewhat more comprehensive.
  • The multimodal project management stresses the combination of more than two different project management methods and/or – systems and is therefore – together with the selective project management – closest to the term of the hybrid project management.

The broader the term “Hybrid Project Management” is understood, the clearer it becomes that it has long been a reality in organisations and that that pure project management methods are rather an exception. In summary, Hybrid Project Management describes the combination of different project management methods or parts of these methods with the goal of using the advantages of different approaches in one project.

Hybrid Project Management - the combination of different approaches

​Hybrid combinations

In most cases, Hybrid Project Management is understood as a combination of traditional, classical project management methods with agile techniques. This is obvious because standardised approaches such as PRINCE2 Agile or agile strategies in V-Modell XT have been available for many years. But there are also agile combinations – e.g. a combination of Scrum and Kanban as Scrumban – and even traditional combinations – e.g. project planning with PRINCE2 and the development of a system per waterfall. So there are three basic possible combinations:

  • classic and agile
  • agile and agile
  • classic and classic

There are also other combinations, e.g. classic with agile and agile. Example: The project is planned holistically with PRINCE2, the realisation of requirements takes place with a combination of Scrum and Kanban, i.e. with Scrumban.

Hybrid Project Management in practice

Motives and goals

Companies use methods to manage projects with different motives: They try to put the quality of results, adherence to delivery dates and customer orientation in the foreground. They address internal teamwork or employee motivation. Companies often operate in industries that pose special challenges in terms of security, documentation and traceability. Obligations to provide evidence and compliance with standards can, for example, lead to the selection of a methodology that places great value on planning and the creation of documents. In addition, in many organisations procedures have grown methodically over a longer period of time or have even been specified externally (e.g. V-Modell XT should be used as a approach for projects by German authorities). Hybrid Project Management pursues the goal of using the best of different management systems, but the motive can be to meet the specific requirements of the industry and at the same time use meaningful elements of other approaches. And even if a company wants to use Scrum as an agile method from now on, the hybrid approach helps to combine proven and useful aspects of the current approach with components of the agile approach.

​Classic and agile project management

Hybrid Project Management is often understood as classical project management, which is extended by agile techniques. In a traditional project, for example, a process or an area such as software development can be carried out agilely according to Scrum or a single ritual such as the Daily Scrum or the Retrospective can be used. The use of agile techniques is often accompanied by the desire to eliminate supposed weaknesses of classical project management: Employees are overloaded, priorities and responsibilities unclear and the number of meetings too large. But the advantages of agile work do not arise from the few roles, events and artifacts, but from common values and principles. Agile techniques emphasise self-organisation, personal and team responsibility as well as iterative and flexible working. Only with such lived values and principles does Hybrid Project Management have a chance to permanently improve the status quo in projects.

Roles in Hybrid Project Management

What roles are there in Hybrid Project Management? In classic projects, the project manager is responsible for the planning and implementation and thus also for the success of the project. He ensures that defined workflows are adhered to and may implement the requirements fixed at the beginning of the project at defined costs and deadlines. In agile projects, the role of project manager does not exist. For example, Scrum knows a product owner who represents the ideas of the stakeholders, maintains the backlog and unites product and project management tasks. The Scrum Master is responsible for adhering to the agreed process and supports the development team. The development team is responsible for completing a potential deliverable increment in accordance with previous commitments. Neither the Product Owner nor the Scrum Master are in charge of the team. These approaches are so different that every company should think about roles, tasks and responsibilities from the beginning in the course of Hybrid Project Management. This is the only way it can work.

Hybrid organisations

There are companies that want to develop into agile organisations. However, most companies work hybrid, e.g. in development agile and in sales, controlling, documentation or HR conventional. Even if there are shifts towards agility in the traditional departments, only very few companies will be able to work agile throughout. The present (and probably also the future) is therefore: hybrid organisations.

However, hybrid work is not only carried out within individual companies, but also in cross-company projects. For example, the V-Modell XT defines a client project and a contractor project for the implementation of a project. By definition, the client uses V-Modell XT, while the contractor can implement the development with Scrum or Kanban, provided that the agreed contract components such as specifications or system specifications are produced in the required quality.

In addition, there are also projects within organisations which are carried out with different methods. In such a situation, it is the task of the Project Management Office (PMO) to organise the various approaches in the structural and process organisation.

Examples of Hybrid Project Management

At the process level, there are numerous examples of how different methods can be combined. Especially often there are rich approaches like V-Modell XT, V-Modell Bund, PRINCE2, Hermes or RUP, which are combined with lightweight approaches – Scrum, Kanban, Extreme Programming. In addition, however, there are almost infinitely many combinations in which elements of individual methods are used in the context of another approach. Here are some examples:

  • A daily developer meeting in V-Modell XT to coordinate with each other
  • A retrospective as a lessons learned meeting in Hermes
  • A stakeholder review meeting for release approval in V-Modell XT Bund
  • A business case in Scrum
  • A backlog in PRINCE2
  • An Earned Value Analysis in Scrum
  • An impediment board in V-Modell XT Bund

By the way, under the keyword Scrumbut there are some deviations from Scrum that refer to roles and artifacts.

Challenges for companies

Hybrid Project Management as a conscious decision

In many industries, agile approaches are now regarded as “in”. Everything feels agile; sales and marketing are agile, HR and support too, software development anyway. Agility promises many advantages (e.g. the openness for changes in the course of the project, the quick reaction to market changes, the permanent orientation towards customer needs or the personal responsibility of teams) and is very flexible. The vast majority of organisations, however, are not agile, not even in individual areas. In software development and project management, agile approaches are certainly most frequently used, but agile principles cannot be easily applied to entire organizations. Traditional, classic project management continues to provide a good organisational framework. Thus, teams can act agilely in the operative environment and the Project Management Office, the Program Management or the Steering Committee can continue to operate classically. Organisations should therefore always decide individually which methods and techniques are best suited for a project. This is the only way to achieve the desired goals in the team in the long term. Very often the choice will fall on Hybrid Project Management.

Do you want to improve the processes in your projects through a uniform approach? Do you want to make the project process comprehensible and create added value for your customers? We would be pleased to offer you our knowledge of processes combined with many years of experience. We support you in working with Scrum, coach your employees, establish a meaningful backlog management and help you with software and system modeling.

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