The number of organisations combining waterfall/traditional and agile – in other words, taking a hybrid approach to managing and delivering projects – has increased. Here’s why customising your project delivery framework to reflect this will better support project success.
Dynamic shifts in the global environment have given rise to organisations that manage their projects leading with versatility, flexibility and agility. As a result, more project practitioners are taking a hybrid approach to adapt to the changing ecosystem by combining waterfall and agile approaches within the same project. According to a 2020 study commissioned by the Australian Institute of Project Management (AIPM), 44 per cent of organisations use a combination of agile and waterfall/traditional project management methods.
In its 2021 Pulse of the Profession survey, PMI calls this the emergence of the ‘gymnastic enterprise’, where organisations “combine structure, form, and governance with the ability to flex and pivot – wherever and whenever needed”. These organisations are focused more on outcomes than process, “selecting the very best ways of working from a landscape of possibilities”.
For project-led organisations, this means there is a need to create a project delivery framework that matches the versatile nature of a hybrid approach. A framework that does not reflect the methodology, processes, requirements and success factors around project delivery is more likely to cause confusion with regard to stakeholder communication and affect governance and performance monitoring.
Using a project delivery framework
The purpose of a project delivery framework is to set the expectations and standards for how the project lifecycle should play out, from initiation to closure/ post-implementation review. The framework should take into account the skills and training of the project practitioners, as well as the reporting requirements within the organisation.
A good framework provides consistency and clarity around aspects such as scope, scheduling and resourcing and uses a common language so that multiple departments attached to the project can communicate requirements without ambiguity. It should also connect with the tools and templates that the team uses to deliver the project. Often, a project framework intersects with a single project methodology.
Project delivery frameworks are usually developed and applied by the project management office (PMO), if the organisation has one, or by an individual project team in smaller organisations. The role of the PMO is to develop a framework that best fits the needs of the organisation while supporting successful delivery of the project.
Why customise a project delivery framework?
An increase in hybrid project management has led to the growth of the hybrid PMO, so it stands to reason that a project framework must reflect the organisation’s multi-faceted delivery approach. It is also likely that the project practitioners within an organisation have had diverse training and experiences. Setting an organisational framework can help to standardise project delivery, from using common terminology to aligning the steps in the project lifecycle.
Traditional methodologies such as waterfall and PRINCE2 have highly structured frameworks. Agile approaches like Scrum and Kanban, on the other hand, focus on flexibility and speed to value, sometimes at the expense of structure, existing project measurement metrics and commonality. It is therefore the responsibility of the PMO to combine what may at first look like competing systems of governance, organisation and communication into a single framework to ensure the project teams are pointed in the same direction.
Considerations to customise a project delivery framework
It is likely that the features of a customised framework will come from existing methodologies, tools and templates, so invest some time in evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of the approaches that fit your organisation’s goals: what should project delivery look like once this framework is applied?
If your organisation uses a hybrid approach or delivers projects in different industries that require different outputs, consider parent/child frameworks. In this scenario, the PMO should occupy a cross-sectional function above the individual teams. As long as the PMO has control over the project delivery standards and can provide context and governance across all projects, this could be a good way to amalgamate differing approaches.
- Which stakeholders need to be involved in the development of a project framework?
- Which methodologies or approaches are team members already using to deliver projects?
- Will you need to retrain or upskill any staff?
- How will you select and adapt existing methods into your framework? How will you determine the essential rules and procedures?
- What tools, templates and technology are likely to influence the way your organisation delivers projects? How will you incorporate these into your new framework?
- What terminology or language will you make organisation-wide?
- What governance structure best suits your organisation? How will you track progress and measure performance?
- How can you prepare the organisation to transition to the customised framework?
The list goes on. Importantly, every organisation is unique hence it’s imperative to ensure you seek perspectives from a reasonably diverse set of stakeholders before making wholesale changes.
As with any project, stakeholder buy-in – particularly of the project stakeholders and project practitioners who will be working within the framework – is essential. Once customised, the framework needs to be documented and circulated to ensure all project teams accept and can apply it.
Project management is a versatile discipline whereby practitioners revel in the different ways of managing and delivering outcomes. Running multiple delivery approaches such as waterfall and agile makes an organisation more flexible and adaptable however, due to differing tools, standards and terminology, a hybrid environment risks causing confusion among team members and project stakeholders. Project delivery frameworks provide consistency, clarity and structure within the organisation and can be customised to support the success of the organisation’s projects. When moving to a hybrid framework, commonality is key to success.
How robust is your project delivery framework for today’s dynamic environment? Contact PM-Partners or call us on 1300 70 13 14 to find out more about customisation.