The term “agile project management” is an indication that there is a desire in a company for proven and established processes, but at the same time one would like to have the advantages of both methods. In the handling of projects proven traditional project management methods are mixed with agile methods to get these advantages.
In classical process oriented organizations different processes have been established and proven over many years. In the context of project management these are, for example, fixing project content and costs for the duration of a project paired with long-term and detailed planning, adhering to project management processes according to a certain method and nominating a project manager for all topics related to the project.
On the other hand, agile product development can only partly be described as a project because it is not about a defined beginning and end or the fixing of contents and costs, but about maximizing the value of an initiative for the customer. From the point of view of handling, the aim is to implement things over many very short cycles and to obtain constant feedback from the client.
If you want to lead an agile team with classical project management methods, this immediately leads to strong conflicts of interest. And the opposite is true.
So at least one concept is needed to combine these different process methods. For a few years there has been an intensive exchange among interested parties who have described the topic as “hybrid projects” or “agile project management”.
Some have published solutions that work well in their organizations as methods or frameworks. However, caution must be exercised when describing a concept that combines two very different approaches as a framework, because the term implies that it is a consistent solution to a problem.
This can only be consistent if compromises are made between the differences listed above and if they are coordinated as meaningfully as possible.
A hybrid method is not a round thing in itself. It can make use of advantages from two different worlds, but at the same time it always has some disadvantages. This depends on how the focus is placed on the combination of these two methods. The concrete form of the hybrid interplay.
Imagine you want to build a hybrid car out of a sports car and an off-road vehicle. The mixture of these two will in any case bring losses in the sportiness and also in the off-road capability.
But it can also create desired new combinations, which are very helpful. Some like for example the high seating position of the off-road vehicle and the hard suspension of the sports car. With the hard suspension the hybrid car would be well suited to drive a lot on the road. However, the same vehicle would be uncomfortable off-road. The advantage of sitting high would be in both cases.
For others, perhaps the appearance of the vehicle and fuel consumption would be an essential criterion in addition to the desire to get a sporty off-road vehicle.
The hybrid car will therefore have a different mix of the advantages and disadvantages of both vehicles for these two applications. Which combination, advantages and disadvantages are particularly helpful for the intended use depends on the user’s expectations.
And this is exactly the same with a hybrid project. You get exactly the advantages and disadvantages that result from a certain form of mixing. There should therefore be a conscious “construction” for the respective project use or for a certain organizational part. In order to do this, you need a clear view of the characteristics of both methods, a common and transparent weighing of advantages and disadvantages with the stakeholders and a little experience.
In any case, there is something like a hybrid way by combining two forms of collaboration. A good mix probably doesn’t come about by copying others, but by consciously designing it for one’s own application.