Work Team working on an agile hybrid project together

Software Development with Agile Hybrid Projects

Written by Paul Comeau
On July 7, 2020

Is Agile the only way?

Often software development projects in highly regulated industries combine delivery methods of both Agile and traditional. The complexity of delivering projects in specific industries such as finance, medical, insurance and education require approvals from external regulators which makes the hybrid approach ideal for these efforts that have a high level of risk. Additionally, a hybrid delivery method can take the best of both worlds to ensure iterative development, customer focused success factors, and organizational change management to successfully deliver upon your companies’ goals.

Hybrid projects are becoming more common as customers/stakeholders want more input into the project as well as reporting on project health and budget. Adopting some of the Agile approaches have benefited the organizations with complexity helping them move faster with better outcomes. In this post, we’ll review three areas where Agile and traditional can be combined in a hybrid project.

What can an Agile Hybrid project look like?

Product Increment Planning – Agile methods to plan for longer term project will utilize Product Increment Planning to break up large features into smaller pieces of work

  • Advanced planning with customers and stakeholders
  • Define who will be the Product Owner(s)
  • Define the project’s goals, increments, milestones and measures of success
  • Define how many sprints will go into an increment

*Caveat – need to balance amount of traditional planning vs. being agile and allowing for changes that might crop up in later increments

Risk Management – Agile methods, like Scrum and Kanban traditionally don’t have a discreet method of handling risk.

  • PM and/or SM working with PO, stakeholders, and team can identify both business and technical risks
  • Helpful to use traditional risk management methods to rank risks (degree of impact vs. likelihood)
  • Helpful to add mitigation options to the high-risk backlog items
  • Helpful to protect the team from additional risk management meetings so as not to impact the team’s workflow

Reporting – Agile methods, such as Scrum have good reporting methods to show burndown and scope change.

  • To communicate overall project health, traditional styles of reporting can be used
  • Mapping increments and milestones to sprints and story completion will help show overall progress
  • To track budget, you can map delivery to a traditional system like Earned Value Management to show project health vs. spend rate

Your success is always on our mind

Combining different methods of project delivery in these ways can make the project more flexible and able to adapt to change. While trying to take a hybrid approach, make sure to involve the customer/stakeholders in the process because this will help the Project Manager and/or Scrum Master determine what aspects of Agile and traditional methods to use. What we’ve found is that day-to-day management will tend to be Agile methods, while traditional methods can be used to control overall aspects of the project such as Risk Management or overall planning. Using this hybrid approach may be just what is needed to accomplish your companies’ goals while allowing the flexibility you need.