The challenges of Hybrid Project Management – When and how can it go wrong?

Hybrid is generally defined as a methodology that combines the formal and Agile methods to create a new project management method. While Hybrid does aim to mend the imperfections of both methodologies, some hiccups can happen along the way.

The first catch with Hybrid PM lies in the fact that it can be seen differently by every team that uses it. If the base is not laid out properly, the only thing that will be created is confusion with some teams embracing the new and others finding ways to keep their work as it was. This is why it’s important to not skip steps and keep the 3 basic principles in mind.

Now, let us take a more in-depth look at other problems you might face:

  • Poor communication.

As always, a lack of communication leads to increased risk. The most pervasive of all risks is the uneven visibility and access to information that eventually leads to inconsistent decision-making. This happens if some key stakeholders are missing from the planning phase of implementing hybrid. To avoid this pitfall, a hybrid team must develop specific ground rules to provide rapid and consistent information sharing.

Another problem that might (and very often will) occur is the uneven influence in decision-making. While management is used to making strategic decisions on their own, PMs should have their voice heard too. If there are members of the team with years of hands-on knowledge, that are also open to learning and evolving – giving them space to take part can significantly improve the end result.  

We have to keep in mind that some people are more comfortable with sharing their opinion, while others might feel more guarded. Leaders are the ones that should fill those gaps by proactively bringing up this issue as a potential concern in order to create and develop further strategies for minimizing this disparity. 

The same goes for assigning responsibility. If there is a change in how responsibility is divided, it needs to be clearly communicated to everyone. Even though the management is the one that decides on the best practices and how things will be done, all team members should be kept in the loop to avoid misunderstandings. Best results are created when there is clarity in what is expected from the team.

  • Underestimating deadlines.

Change can’t happen overnight. While a part of the team will jump at the opportunity to try out new approaches and improve their daily operations, others might be a bit more wary of all the changes happening around them.

Provide your team with both time and structure during the transition phase. 

  • Not recognizing essential details.

Setting the general principles of Hybrid is not always enough for it to be successfully implemented within a company.

A best practice can be to set guidelines and key points for heads of departments to follow and allow them to fill in the rest. Nobody knows their team better and they can create a plan for when and how the changes will happen. 

  • Ignoring helpful technology.

Why make things difficult, when they don’t have to be. Project management software has become a staple in many teams and finding one that can work with Hybrid can make the transition far easier.

How best to prepare your team?

It is important to note that working with PMs to enhance their communication and managerial skills is key once the company decides to go Hybrid. In this new setting, they should possess a balanced knowledge of different methodologies, the market they’re working in, and have some grasp of new trends in their fields of work (e.g. new technology being developed, new legislation being passed). 

General training to enhance their soft and organizational skills should be the first step. This will provide them with a basis to handle change and new assignments as they come.

The next step is to equip them with managerial skills to lead their team through the change. If they can convey the new ways of working properly and keep their team motivated and engaged, the biggest part of the job has been done.

As a final piece of the puzzle, they need to get acquainted with other project management methodologies apart from the one they were using. This should be the final step in preparing PMs. The reason for that is that as they get better equipped to handle change, they are more likely to accept it and embrace it. 

Certainty has been lost for quite some time now and Hybrid isn’t bound to immediately provide positive results. However, thinking of new ways to overcome challenges, clarifying what best practices are for the team, and thinking ahead are definitely the way to prepare for the future.

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