Project Management Apples, Oranges, and Grapes

Regardless of what a project will deliver, such as a new or improved Web Site, a new or improved Smartphone, a new datacenter or warehouse, or a new Saturn rover, all projects need planned, resourced, staffed, performed, and controlled.  Controlled means project performance analyzed against project plan to keep it on track, i.e., deliver what is expected.  What does change across projects, however, is how each of them will be planned and delivered.

There are three fundamental types of project planning and delivery approaches.  Predictive (apples), agile (oranges), or a combination of the two, called hybrid (grapes).  The predictive approach, often called ‘traditional’ or ‘waterfall’, sees a majority of the project planned on the front end, agile projects see the project planned in smaller chunks, each preceding a block of work, and hybrid projects see a combination of the two others.  Like maybe we use a predictive Work Breakdown Structure (“WBS”) coupled with a Kanban board representing work being done over time, i.e., a JIT-type schedule.  When preparing to conduct a new project, the project manager, team, and stakeholders can discuss how they’d like to plan and deliver it, predictively, agilely, or hybridly.

Type selection is based on some key factors.  Some of the critical factors that dictate how the project manager (“PM”), team, and stakeholders will plan, deliver, and receive the project are the capabilities of these players.  First, is the PM capable of planning and delivering the project predictively, agilely, or hybridly?  If they’re not, how can they coach, advise, assist, train the others (team and stakeholders) to?   Second, is the team capable of planning and delivering the project predictively, agilely, or hybridly?   Third, is the organization capable of supporting the planning and delivering of the project predictively, agilely, or hybridly?  Fourth, do the stakeholders understand predictive, agile, and hybrid, and how each will impact them and their participation?  Fifth, is the project’s scope well-defined and clear, or vague and fuzzy?  And sixth, is the project high visibility or high risk?  While there are many factors to consider when deciding how to plan and deliver a project, the capabilities of the PM, team, organization, and stakeholders are key considerations, as is the project’s scope and visibility or risk levels.

Therefore, today’s project managers and project teams need to know all three approaches: predictive, agile, and hybrid.  That’s because folks paid to do anything, play golf, play football, or manage project teams, are expected to be able to perform their profession; that’s why they’re called “professionals”.  In our case, if one is a professional project manager,  they should be able to deliver any project, regardless of how it is planned and delivered.  But, if they’re only versed in planning and delivering traditional predictive projects, and the organization needs a project planned and delivered in a hybrid or agile manner, they’re out.  They can’t.  And their inability to do so causes the organization now to have to carry two project managers, one predictive and one agile.  Which means carrying two salaries instead of one too!  Therefore, project managers that are able to plan and deliver projects however the organization, team, and stakeholders need them to or want them to are consummate professionals, which creates more career options and opportunities to apply their wares, and compensation!

If you’d like to be able to speak and do all three dialects of project management, predictive, agile, and hybrid, and be certified to do so, check out Vets2PM’s myriad project management courses to meet your needs.

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