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What makes a successful hybrid project manager?

Hands and arms of project managers at table in office using agile techniques on project document with Post-It notes and pens

The term “hybrid project management” is generally assumed to refer to Agile and more traditional approaches when managing projects.

Jane NicholsPeople need to have the capability to manage both Agile and non-Agile initiatives. Yet, although we know “hybrid” exists, how capable is the project management profession of working in this way?

With only 12% of PPM functions reportedly feeling “very well equipped” to work in an Agile way, according to the latest AXELOS PPM benchmark study, it would appear there is something missing.

That’s why it’s so important that project managers start to think about how to enhance their skills, so they are fully prepared for the inevitable challenge of managing a project where both approaches are required. So what do you need to do?

Knowledge is power

If you want to be a successful hybrid project manager, you first have to ensure you have balanced knowledge. Don’t assume that if you know all about Agile you are bound to be equally familiar with traditional methods. Or, that if you’ve been brought up on traditional, then Agile is just another add-on which doesn’t require the same level of proficiency. Again, not true.

So before you go too far, make sure you understand the differences between the two and – most importantly - are clear on how to use each approach in the most appropriate way for your initiative.

Putting it into practice

The next step is to take every opportunity to apply that knowledge. Gaining experience is key but not necessarily as straightforward as it sounds. There are a number of critical areas to consider, such as:

  • Stakeholder communication: If you are working for an organization that has long been used to strategic project management, stakeholders are likely to find it quite difficult to adjust to a more collaborative approach. They are not going to get the same level of information, so you need to think about how to manage their expectations. 
  • Reporting: Stakeholders and sponsors generally expect regular reporting schedules, which allows them to review progress against objectives. However, Agile sprints present a much “harder ask”: it’s more difficult to see what benefits have been achieved at the end of each iteration. What are you going to tell them so that the ROI can still be demonstrated and understood?
  • Team management: In an ideal, “Agile”, world everyone sits together for progress meetings, but how are you going to keep this look and feel when people are at different ends of the country or even in different continents?

Preparation is everything

People skills, communication and reporting structures all need to be carefully thought through in order to fully realize the benefits of this new environment.

I firmly believe that every experienced project manager will come across a hybrid challenge at some point in their career. So we have to be fully ready and able to use the right skills at the right time. We’ll certainly be much more successful if we do.

Read more AXELOS Blog Posts from Jane Nichols

How to build a partnership for project success

How to engage with stakeholders

Are you giving or receiving full value from your PMO?

Project management into 2018: improving project success

6 top tips for faster and smarter best practice learning

The agile imperative for project managers

5 winning ways with agile and programme management in 2017

Qualifications – something for the CV or a long-term career plan?

Making day-to-day use of knowledge gained through your best practice qualifications

Which PPM qualification is right for you? A guide for practitioners and employers

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