PMP Study: Hybrid Project Management, what is it? Expect questions of this approach on your exam. - Deepstash

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Hybrid Project Management

This is an important breakdown if your studying for the PMP certification.

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What is hybrid project management?

Hybrid project management is a technique where high-level project phases are planned using the waterfall approach and project phase work (actual tasks) execution is done the Agile way. (As defined by

It is rather easy to draw conclusions that some of the above-mentioned challenges can be “cured” by combining Agile and Waterfall into one.

The result of the combination is also logical. But achieving that combo is not easy or trivial, hence certain conventions must be established.


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Hybrid Project Management – A Top Trend

Hybrid project management is getting more and more attention. In fact, it was named the top trend in the Project Management Radar 2021.

That is why we have created this article. To help people learn more about it and answer some of the common questions.

Basis of this article (cite)


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How to choose between Agile or Waterfall?

While there are many project management methodologies to choose from or even combine, in our humble opinion there are only two real contenders based on popularity and their inherent differences – Waterfall and Agile.

To be able to make a reasonable choice – first, we should understand the specifics of each methodology.


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Essential specifics arising from Waterfall project management:

  • Higher cost of change
  • Learning and steering are complicated
  • The end goal is defined very early
  • Effort demanding planning and progress tracking
  • Higher risk for projects where there are numerous unknowns
  • Not focused on early value confirmation
  • Requires significant experience from the project team
  • End goal-centric (can be positive or negative depending on project type)


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Essential specifics arising from Agile project management:

  • Makes project contracts more complex
  • Requires both project requestors/sponsors and the project team to be aligned on the approach
  • Not suitable for projects with strict deadlines where phases/stages are well-known
  • Requires significant experience from the project team
  • Harder to follow and estimate in the early days
  • Customer-centric (can be positive or negative depending on project type)
  • Highly visual with tools like Kanban board


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How to combine Agile and Waterfall

How to combine Agile and Waterfall

Before we dive into actual hybrid project management tools we need to clearly understand what is the logical way of merging these two ideologies.

This is why we provide simple examples to get you up to speed with this potentially game-changing approach. This allows you to use Kanban and Gantt charts at the same time.


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Waterfall for planning

First of all, we will use the waterfall approach only for high-level deadlines, deliverables, and contracts with customers:

Agree only on top-level things like final deadlines, milestones, deliverables, or classical project phases.

Identify phases of a project where Agile can come in. The rule here could be if the phase duration is longer than a month, it is worth switching to Agile.

Otherwise, just go for the classic.


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Agile for execution (Pt1 of 2)

Secondly, introduce Agile execution cycles for project tasks.

  • Identify project work types & break them into tasks that are less than a day.
  • Create a prioritized work backlog that fulfills the project phase or whole project goal/milestone.
  • Agree to work in iterations (sprints) of 2 or 4 weeks. 2 weeks is good if the less experienced team & more alignment are required.
  • Before every iteration plan what your project team will work on by taking prioritized items from the work backlog.
  • Estimate every task so you know how many you can fit into a single sprint.


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Agile for execution (Pt2 of 2)

  • At the end of every sprint do a retrospective – what went well and what can be improved?
  • Capture metrics on how many tasks and total estimation were completed.
  • Use captured completion metrics to adjust your next sprint planning.


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Combined metrics and practices for progress reporting

  1. Finally, make sure you can monitor progress and steer accordingly by:
  2. Having tools such as project burndown charts to visualize progress.
  3. Perform daily status meetings to check if work is being completed according to Sprint’s goal (planned work).
  4. Do project status checks against deliverables and project goals.
  5. Involve stakeholders in project communication and progress reports after each sprint to showcase the value delivered.


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Agile ceremonies for continuous improvement

It is highly recommended to follow the best practices of Agile ceremonies to ensure there is a process in place to continuously raise the quality of work being done and approaches being taken.

Shortlist which is not limited to suggested ceremonies (practices/meetings):

  1. Daily status checks with the project team
  2. Backlog refinement and prioritization
  3. Sprint planning
  4. Sprint retrospective

Bonus technique from classic project management:

5. Lessons learned / broader retrospective after each project phase


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Hybrid project management manifesto

Since there is this great Agile manifesto to draw a line on where to focus while working with the methodology, it would be great to do the same for hybrid project management and propose a hybrid project management manifesto:

  1. Responding to change by following a detailed plan
  2. Created value over formalities
  3. Customer collaboration over contract negotiation

It is about focusing on why somebody is requesting a project, and what is the expected value.

Lastly, it is about collaborating and solving impediments instead of spending time to negotiate a fine-tuned contract for all the possible outcomes.


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When to choose hybrid project management vs Agile or Waterfall?

When to choose hybrid project management vs Agile or Waterfall?

Comparing methodologies is not easy but still, can be done side by side to the most extent.

Here you will find a comparison of methodologies on the following aspects:

  • Repository of work
  • Planning approach
  • Commitments
  • Focus
  • Emphasis
  • Budget
  • Goals
  • Project duration
  • Resource availability
  • Delivery approach (On time delivery)
  • Scope
  • Effort required for changes
  • Estimating


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Hybrid project management software

The unfortunate problem that which majority of professionals undergo is that their companies are either far invested in CPM or Agile.

Resulting in tooling which is also far stretched to support one of those methodologies.

What should be the core features of a tool to support Hybrid project management?

  1. Gantt charts for high-level project phases
  2. Task groups or multiple backlogs
  3. Sprints or Iterations with capacity planning and velocity metrics
  4. Kanban boards for daily task execution
  5. Agile metrics
  6. Burndown charts


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