In this article we discuss those 12 requirements in greater detail.
A Robust Hybrid PMLC Model
Figure 1 is a robust and high-level depiction of the Hybrid Project Management Life Cycle (PMLC) Framework. These three phases apply regardless of the model or approach you might envision for managing your project. This framework is more useful than Agile or Extreme Models in those situations where very little is known about the solution or the specifics of the goal. The framework will lead you through the uncharted waters of any unique project. There will be many situations where the commercially available models or those in use in your organization do not fit the project situation for any number of reasons. The Hybrid PMLC Framework has been designed for just those situations. Keep in mind that solution discovery is still the focus of these Hybrid Models. Each iteration in a Hybrid Model must address not only task completion for newly defined functions and features, but also further solution definition through function and feature discovery.
Figure 1: A Robust Hybrid Project Management Model
The Ideation Phase of the Hybrid PMLC Model is a high-level activity because not much is known about the solution. For the Hybrid PMLC Model, the Ideation activities merely set the boundaries and the high-level parameters that will be the foundation on which you proceed to learn and discover. The Ideation Phase answers the following questions:
- What business situation is being addressed by this project?
- What does the business need to do?
- What are you proposing to do?
- How will you do it?
- How will you know you did it?
At this point in the Hybrid PMLC Model, planning is done in general for the entire project and in detail for the first or next iteration. That planning is based on:
- any changes to the project or its performance
- the current environment in which the project is being conducted
- competitor changes, emerging technologies, new products/services, shifts in demand
High-level planning might be part of the Ideation Phase. Based on the known functionality and features that will be built in the coming cycle, a detailed plan is developed. This plan utilizes all of the vetted tools, templates, and processes defined by the organization.
The Execution Phase will often include establishing team operating rules, the decision-making process, conflict management, team meetings, and a problem-solving approach.
During project execution there will be some oversight monitoring and controlling functions pertaining to the current iteration. A cumulative history of project performance metrics should also be maintained. These metrics should inform the project team about the rate at which convergence to an acceptable solution is occurring. Frequency of changes, severity of change, and similar metrics can help. As part of that control function, the team collects whatever learning and discovery took place and records it. All change requests go are also retained for later processing.
At the close of the project lessons learned, validation of success criteria, installation of deliverables and a post-project audit will occur.
What Does a Hybrid Project Manager Want?
A HPM wants to use a “path unencumbered by fixed processes” and under their complete control. They avoid nonvalue-added work and by nature are “lean practitioners”” whether they know it or not. However, without some structured guidance their “lean practices” might unknowingly put them and their business unit in harm’s way. Their project management processes are not fixed but are adapted by them to the nature of the project at hand. Convention and established practices are of little importance. What is important is to complete their project to the satisfaction of the project sponsor, usually management. Ideally their project management environment is characterized by the following 12 general parameters:
A Portfolio of Intuitive Tools, Templates and Processes
The OPM isn’t interested in attending rigorous project management training in order to use the tools, templates, and processes maintained by the PMO. Rather they would just like to pick up the appropriate item and use it. That means the OPM portfolio of tools, templates, and processes must be streamlined versions of those used by the CPM or alternatives scaled by the PMO for use by the OPM.
Minimal Documentation and Reporting
The HPM isn’t interested in filing and updating any detailed performance or status reports. They are close enough to the project to have an implicit understanding of progress and performance and determine future courses of action. Face-to-face reporting to their manager is appropriate though. Documentation by the HPM may be as simple as a one-page executive summary and a basic report out describing the project as “on-time and on-budget” and if not, the very basic reasons why not. This is usually all the project sponsor desires. As noted previously, the project sponsor is often a busy member of management who only wants a quick update — “a basic thumbs-up or thumbs-down.”
Minimal Nonvalue-Added Work and Waste Avoidance
Nonvalue-added activities consume resources but don’t directly contribute to the value of the project or product as determined by the project sponsor or the customer. In the context of this series waste is defined as:
- Anything that doesn’t add value to the project
- Anything that doesn’t help create conformance to the customer’s specifications
- Anything the customer wouldn’t be willing to pay for
- Anything you can remove from the project that does not negatively impact the desired end result
A Lean Systems Perspective
A systems approach to the identification and elimination of waste and non-value added activities through continuous improvement in all products and services is critical to the HPM. This is founded on employee involvement/development, standardization, problem solving, and a team based culture focused on customer orientation.
Flexibility and Adaptability of Tools, Templates and Processes to Meet Project Needs
The portfolio of tools, templates and processes is very personal to the HPM. They should look to the portfolio provided by the PMO and adapt it to their project needs. Other than the PMO they may have included in their portfolio others from their own experiences.
An Operational Understanding of Traditional, Agile and Extreme Project Management Processes
Complex projects dominate the landscape and require agile and extreme PM processes for their successful completion. Complex projects cannot be managed using traditional processes. Without guidance from the PMO the OPM may unknowingly place their project in harm’s way by trying to force fit traditional PM processes into complex projects.
Available Coaches, Consultants and Mentors as Required and When Requested
The HPM is not expected to be a hero but rather a project manager who recognizes the contribution that others can make to the success of their efforts. They must be willing to involve others to advise and consult as needed. The HPM remains in charge however.
A Supportive PSO not a Compliance Monitoring PMO
If the Project Support Office (PSO) does not create an environment where their support services are freely offered and truly supportive they will discourage the HPM from ever reaching out for help. The OPM can always use the help. The CPM can always use the consulting support.
Meaningful Stakeholder Involvement
Engagement of stakeholders is one of the most important, yet often one of the most overlooked concepts that plague the HPM. Stakeholders can positively or negatively affect the HPM’s project. Stakeholders who can positively impact the HPM’s project, who have been engaged in the process, contribute to the project’s success. Stakeholders who can impact the HPM’s project, but have not been engaged, represent not only a missed opportunity but also a potential obstacle to implementation. Engagement of stakeholders goes beyond identification and inclusion. It extends into the concept of meaningful collaboration.
A Collaborative Engagement with Subject Matter Experts
The concept of collaboration is largely ignored in many of the leading project management texts. This methodology of “including others in the conversation” is key to the success of the HPM’s project. Because the HPM is not a traditional project manager and may not even have the words “project manager” in his or her title; he or she will often have a part-time or limited project team. The team may only be available under certain conditions and at certain times. Therefore, the OPM may need to rely heavily on Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) to help guide his or her decision making process. Collaboration with these SMEs, gives the HPM an extended reach, source of knowledge, and influence in the management of the project.
A Partnership with the Business Analyst
There are two distinct parts to every project. The process which the HPM provides and manages and the product which the process is designed to deliver. There will be situations where the HPM has sufficient product knowledge to perform the functions otherwise assigned to a BA and those opportunities should not be overlooked. A second pair of eyes will always benefit the HPM’s decision making.
Risk Assessment and Mitigation Strategies
Risk assessment and mitigation may be accomplished by the HPM through the use of tools, templates and processes discussed above. By engaging the project team, involving stakeholders, and engaging SMEs, the HPM has the best chance of mitigating undesirable risk and leveraging desirable risk. Again, the concept of “not going it alone” is key.