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Project Management

Blended Project Management: Create a Hybrid Method That Fits Your Team and Projects

Laura LaPrad
February 21, 2019
blended project management methodology
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Are you a die-hard Waterfall fan who struggles to get your dev team on board with your process? Or maybe your team went all-in on Agile, only to find that deadlines got confused or even missed?

If so, blended project management could be the answer to all your Agile vs. Waterfall process problems.

What is blended project management?

Blended project management combines different aspects of Waterfall and Agile methodologies to create a process that’s tailor-made for you. Also called a hybrid approach, it’s popular among project managers who feel limited by a single methodology and want to design a hybrid project management process that truly fits their team and projects.

What are the benefits of blended project management?

Blended project management is all about clearing the roadblocks that keep your projects from crossing the finish line on time and on budget. It’s also a great way to boost the ol’ team spirit.

With a blended approach, you have the flexibility to create your own recipe for success. Choose the best ingredients from Waterfall and Agile methodologies, and mix things up to suit your team’s particular project tastes.

Since no hard and fast rules apply, you can enjoy the freedom to experiment with your process. If one project leans heavily on software development and another requires no dev at all, that’s okay! Adapt your hybrid approach to each different project, and improve your process as you go.

How to blend project management methodologies for a hybrid approach

Crafting a project process that’s all your own doesn’t have to be complicated. It really boils down to these 5 simple steps.

1. Unpack the project specifics.

You can’t build a well-oiled machine if you don’t understand all the pieces and parts. So start by learning what makes your people and projects and tick.

Here are a few questions to consider as you examine your project from every angle:

  • What’s the scope of your project?
  • Is there a hard deadline?
  • Is the budget fixed or flexible?
  • Do you have a project leader steering the ship?
  • How does software development fit into the picture?
  • Will your team work on more than one project at once?
  • Does your team have experience with Agile? What about a knack for collaboration and self-organization?
  • Can you count on your stakeholders to engage when needed?
  • How do you maintain an open stream of communication?

Once you’ve gathered your project basics, use this free project management methodology chart to determine which project management method is right for you.

agile waterfall hybrid project management chart

Download the full side-by-side comparison of Waterfall, Agile, and Blended project management methodologies for free!

2. Work with your team to come up with a plan.

You’ve determined blended project management is right for you. Now it’s time to draft a plan!

Here’s the good news: You don’t have to come up with a new project management process all by yourself. In fact, bringing your team into the conversation is a must if you want your process to truly work for the people involved in your project.

So get the team together to hammer out a plan, then discuss and adjust until everyone’s happy with the outcome and fully bought in.

3. Give your team and stakeholders a process roadmap.

With a solid plan in place, the next step is simple: Confirm the plan with your team and stakeholders. Basically, you need to share all the important details so everyone’s clear how the new blended process will work. Sending an email with a link to your TeamGantt project plan is an easy way to do this.

Don’t forget to let folks know the plan is subject to change once it’s put to the test. Setting this expectation on the front end will eliminate surprises and ensure everyone’s prepared to adapt away from Agile and Waterfall processes as needed.

4. Regularly review your process.

Creating a customized process for your projects is not a set-it-and-forget-it kind of thing. It takes some trial-and-error to get all the pieces working together just right.

That’s why it’s important to establish checkpoints for you and your team to assess your new process. Think of it like mini-retrospectives. Talk about what’s going well—and what’s not—so you can iron out the kinks along the way.

5. Make adjustments as you go.

No process works perfectly right out of the gate. But embracing change and looking for opportunities to continually improve your process will put you on the fast-track to success.

Just be sure to update your plan when you do make adjustments. And—psst!—spread the word by communicating the changes to all your project peeps.

Blended project management process example

Now that we’ve laid out the steps for creating your own blended project management process, let’s look at how you might apply a hybrid approach to a project that combines both Waterfall and Agile components.

Blended project management process example 1

In this blended project management example, the Waterfall action happens on the front end of the project. Research lays the groundwork for the project kickoff, and the design phase follows a traditional approach to make room for stakeholder feedback.

Once the major decisions are made, the project transitions to Agile. Development work is done in sprints that ultimately lead up to a launch.

hybrid project management approach

Blended project management process example 2

Here’s another example of a hybrid approach that starts with Waterfall because doing research in an Agile way is next to impossible—especially when stakeholder and user interviews are involved.

Once the research and kickoff meeting are in the books, it’s all Agile from there. Design and development use an Agile approach with sprints and Scrum ceremonies. There’s also a plan to continue iterating after the project launches.

agile and waterfall combined hybrid project management

Expand your learning with our free project management course

This introduction to blended project management only scratches the surface. There’s a lot more to explore and discover in our free on-demand video course The Art & Science of Leading Projects.

Check out Class 02 - Crafting Your Project Management Process for additional project management process tips and examples.

And if you really want to up your project management game, take the full course, and sign up to get access to free downloads and be notified when new classes launch.

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