Hybrid Project Management: A New Approach for Improving Project Efficiency

By Kit Lewis
Content Manager
Dec 30 2022 read

Every client you support requires a unique and individual approach, and the same goes for the projects you complete to assist those clients. That means you can’t always rely on cookie-cutter methods to deliver your best, most efficient client work. 

When you’re looking for a project management methodology with the flexibility to meet your unique business needs, creating a custom approach with hybrid project management is a great option.

What Is Hybrid Project Management?

The hybrid project management methodology is a project management approach that combines aspects from two established methodologies to create a process that can better align with your business needs. 

A hybrid approach is often a great choice for more complex projects that need the flexibility of more modern project management styles and the documentation and planning of more traditional methods. 

While hybrid methodology could include the combination of any two methods, it’s most often a combination of waterfall and agile methodologies, blending the early planning stages of waterfall projects with the adaptability of project sprints from an agile approach.

But before exploring the hybrid project management methodology further, let’s review some of the most popular project management styles and the elements you may want to adopt when creating a hybrid project management approach of your own.

Four Common Project Management Methodologies

Using established project management methodologies helps teams develop a pathway to more efficient projects and more successful results. With various methods available, project managers and their teams can identify the approach that best fits their work style and their project needs.  

1. Waterfall

The waterfall approach is a more traditional project management methodology, It’s made up of six project phases that follow a linear process and it relies heavily on early planning and documentation throughout the project.

This method is often best for projects that have a clearly defined goal or outcome and for projects that can be completed with predictable tasks.

2. Agile 

The agile methodology is a more modern approach, originally developed for software development, and it is known for being a more flexible method consisting of agile sprints made up of planning, executing and monitoring progress so that the project can adapt as needs change.

The method gives agile teams the ability to test and experiment with outcomes as they go, as opposed to a waterfall project management method which creates clearly defined project expectations and outcomes at the start of each project.

3. Lean

More than just a project management approach, Lean is a business philosophy with a dual focus on reducing waste and improving the quality of products or project outcomes.

To optimize waste reduction, this approach identifies three different types of waste, also known as the 3M, and attempts to eliminate them throughout the project process:

  • Muda - Actions that consume resources but provide no additional value for the customer
  • Muri - An overuse or overload of equipment or people which slows down progress
  • Mura - Unnecessary process changes that create inefficiencies and decrease productivity

4. Kanban

The Kanban method is part of the agile framework, but with the use of visual tools to control project progress and ensure continuous flow between project tasks. 

By supporting transparency and collaboration, this project approach encourages teams to adapt to change and improve processes for better business outcomes. 

‌With so many project management styles available, it’s important to choose a project management methodology that works for your team and matches your organizational culture. Often, that can mean needing to combine two or more project management techniques — often referred to as hybrid project management. 

Blending Waterfall and Agile Methodology — From Project Plans to Agile Sprints

When adopting a hybrid project management style, sometimes referred to as adaptive project management, you can select the strengths of multiple methodologies to create a custom project style that fits your team’s needs.

The most common combination for hybrid projects is blending waterfall and agile project management methodologies. When you select elements from these two methods, often that means adopting the early planning phases of a waterfall project and then designing, building and testing project deliverables in sprints, similar to those used in agile projects.

A hybrid approach to waterfall and agile methods often follows a process with the following phases:

  • Planning, requirements and design: In this phase, your team will work with project stakeholders to define the requirements of the project and clearly define the solution you want to achieve. Because this stage primarily pulls from the waterfall method, you’ll set milestones and define the deliverables your project needs to produce. In a hybrid approach, this high-level planning will leave some flexibility in the final plan to account for more adaptable project approaches later on. 
  • Iterative agile sprints and status meetings: This phase of the project includes planned sprints based on project scope you defined in the previous phase. Sprints are an agile method that allow short bursts of focused work. While a true agile method would plan time-focused sprints, in a hybrid approach it is more common to plan sprints around the defined scope of each iteration. Regular status meetings will occur throughout the project so your team has the opportunity to collaborate, minimize obstacles and make adjustments as needed.   
  • Quality assurance (QA) and deployment: After completing the project work in sprints, the project moves on to the QA phase where completed work is reviewed and tested before it is delivered. Once work has been reviewed and approved, the project is deployed and deliverables are ready to be shared with the client. 

Project Manager Tips for Managing a Hybrid Approach

Project managers looking to implement a new hybrid project management style may face a number of challenges. Whether those challenges are related to choosing the right techniques for your project or keeping team members and project stakeholders happy, there are a few things to keep in mind that can help along the way.

  1. Let your project goals determine your project approach. The biggest benefit of a hybrid approach is customizing your project plan to fit your exact needs. Don’t get too caught up in a “typical” hybrid approach. Create your ideal hybrid project plan by clearly defining your project goals, resources and scope. With this information as the foundation of your project, you will be able to identify the workflows that will produce the best project outcomes.
  2. Spend time onboarding your team and supporting their needs pre-project. Your team likely has varied experience in project management, even more so when you’re creating a hybrid approach that is unique to your business or project. Take time early on in your project planning to educate your team on the project stages, their roles and the desired outcomes. Having everyone on the same page early on will improve your team’s efficiency and prevent potential delays or mistakes once the project is in full swing. 
  3. Embrace as much, or as little, of each method as you need. The best part about adopting a hybrid project management approach is the flexibility it brings to your project process. With no need to stay within the strict lines of a more traditional project management method, you can adjust your workflows to support your project, not the other way around.
  4. Be open to feedback from your team and your customers. An essential part of project management is the ability to receive feedback and evaluate project success after a project has been completed. This is especially important for hybrid projects since you’re building a custom process and need to be able to adapt based on what does or doesn’t work. Make sure your hybrid approach incorporates a review or retrospective to consider feedback from your project team or any customer feedback so that you can adapt your project workflow to be more efficient in the future. 

Benefits of Using Hybrid Projects for Your Team and Your Customers

For professional services businesses, meeting and exceeding customer expectations is your top priority. To do this consistently, you need to be able to adapt as your work changes from project to project and from client to client. By choosing a hybrid project management approach your team can stay flexible while providing the highest quality deliverables on time and on budget.

When combining elements of different project methodologies, your team can get the best of both worlds. Creating a project plan using waterfall and agile methods allows your team to develop a clear project roadmap, but by adding more agile methods to the production phase your team can benefit from the increased collaboration and problem-solving during agile sprints and status meetings. These combined methods create more efficient projects for your team and more successful deliverables for your clients.

To take your team’s project success to the next level, it’s important to also evaluate your project management tools. 77% of all high-performing projects use some kind of project management software, but for a team using hybrid project management methods, it’s important to find a tool that can support the flexibility your projects will require.

TIP: Find a customizable client work management platform with advanced collaboration tools to support your traditional and modern project management methods in one system. Accelo users love the platform’s Activity Stream — the ultimate visibility tool — which collects the entire history of client communication and team actions taken for each client account.

Support Your Team’s Unique Project Workflows With Accelo

Project managers and their teams need a project management style that fits the unique requirements of their work and their client’s expectations. Because of this, most project teams will need something beyond just one standard project management methodology. The flexibility of a hybrid project management approach is often the best choice for these teams seeking a custom option. 

And to successfully plan, organize and manage those custom project workflows, teams will need a flexible client work management tool. A customizable system like Accelo can fully support the unique workflows your client projects require, and integrate your projects into your larger client journey — all within one comprehensive platform. 

Start building your hybrid project workflows in Accelo with a free trial. Once you’ve had a chance to explore, request a demo to learn more about the platform’s full functionality from one of our product experts.

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About the Author


Kit Lewis is a Content Manager at Accelo, where she manages content projects, social media and content reporting. With a decade of writing for industries ranging from education to tech, past experience supporting client work and a commitment to building efficient systems, she is passionate about creating valuable content to help professional services teams.

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