After almost 15 years of project management practice, I still stumble at people questioning the need for standardization. In reality, it is reasonable to ask why you need structure in a volatile world where change is the only certainty. On the other hand, we all know that an outstanding project management professional is the one who masters as many tools and techniques. Understanding the environment, you will be able to choose the right approach combining methodologies.
That is why, in my classes, workshops and seminars, I always highlighted the importance of being “fluent” in different project management “languages or dialects.” There are plenty of methodologies and standards. All of them have their place. Nevertheless, how do you build hybrid methodologies that suit your projects’ needs?
In this post, we are going to focus on hybrid methodologies to time management. I do not know about you, but I usually have three schedules in a project:
- Executive view:
- This is a macro version of the schedule, including only milestones, major deliverables and decision-points. The idea behind this approach is based on PRINCE2’s principles. After all, you do not want to bother your sponsor, project board and client with all the project details.
- Management view:
- This is a more detailed schedule with work packages and activities, including reserves and contingencies. Being the project manager, I use it as my baseline to monitor and control the project execution. The management view of the schedule is aligned with the PMBOK Guide processes.
- Team view:
- This is what I call the “micro-management” view of the schedule. I adopt Scrum or Kanban to break schedule activities from the management view into smaller tasks to be managed and tracked in a visual board. The team view is where real work happens. You increase commitment with stand-up meetings and improve productivity by discussing issues and removing road-blocks.
Managing a project schedule is already a huge challenge. Managing three schedules, that is insane, right!? Well, before you shut down your brain and quit reading this post, let me explain the rationale behind this 3-schedules approach.
First of all, they must be developed, managed and updated in a cohesive and coherent way. There shall not be conflicting information among them. In fact, they are not three different schedules but one presented into three different levels of detail.
The Executive View highlights the most important milestones to support decision-making at senior management level. The Project Board or Sponsor is responsible for providing guidance and orientation to the project in managing by stages and in managing by exception.
The Management View clearly defines the project life cycle according to project management best practices. The project manager is responsible for project planning and oversight in order to achieve project’s objectives stated by the Board or Sponsor. The project manager is responsible for managing risks and contingencies as long as he or she meets project’s tolerances.
Figure 2 – Management view (Gantt chart example)
The Team View allows flexibility, adding a new degree of freedom and tolerance that enhances project’s results. In this view, the project life cycle, phases, macro-deliverables and major tasks are broken into smaller activities to orient daily execution.
In order for this setup to work, hierarchy, processes and structure are needed. In other words, Project Governance. The sponsor shall perform his role in orienting and supporting the project manager who, in his turn, is responsible for managing resources and people to deliver results according to the best practices. Depending on the size of the project, team leaders, responsible for technical and implementation aspects on specific work packages, shall manage their own agile development, resulting in a very effective hybrid methodology.
Fine-tuning depends on organizational processes, culture and structure. In my experience, it is possible to combine PRINCE2, PMBOK and Scrum or Kanban easily. Once you start working with hybrid methodologies, you are going to boost your project results by picking the right tool and process to best suit your project’s context and characteristics.
It is very important to be “fluent” in more than one project management “language” (methodologies, tools and techniques). The more you learn, the better equipped you are to tame wild projects that cross our desks every day. Go find better ways to manage projects! And, please, come back to share your discoveries with us at ProjectManager.com.
Whatever methodology you choose, or if you take a more a la carte approach, you’ll still need the right tools to get the project done. That’s where ProjectManager.com comes in, offering an online suite of software features that help you manage agile, waterfall or other hybrid projects seamlessly with your whole team.