Hybrid project management  – manage by stages and sprints

In this article I will provide you with examples on how you can combine Scrum and PRINCE2. This is what you could call hybrid project management.

How do you manage a project that delivers a customized web portal or a smartphone app?

Some might say: “Go agile – use Scrum to ensure you can go live with the first version as fast as possible”

Others may say: “You need to get a quote from the different suppliers and get a fixed price to ensure you control scope and cost.”

Both statements make sense, but you can also go for a hybrid approach where you combine Scrum and PRINCE2 in a way that is optimized to fit your project environment and risk appetite.

Manage by stages

PRINCE2 promotes the “manage by stage” principle. The figure below is highly inspired by PRINCE2 and shows the phases in a PRINCE2 project, but I have added “Deliver the projects in sprints” in the “Subsequent delivery stage(s)” phase.

Here is an overview of what happens in each phase: 

  • The pre-project is used to define why we deliver the project, what we plan to deliver, who will deliver and how we will deliver the project. 
  • The initiation stage is used to capture the requirements and design the solution. If you have a high-risk appetite, the requirements can be a simple list of user story names. The user story names can be used as Scrum product backlog items for the subsequent delivery stages. If you want to reduce the risk, you can spend more resources and time in this phase making detailed requirements and/or prototypes.
  • In the subsequent delivery stage or stages, you will deliver the project’s products. This is where you can use Scrum for developing and delivering the products.
  • In the final delivery stage, you handover the project to ongoing operations.

How do you strike the right balance between risk and agility?

It is not easy to strike the right balance between risk and agility. Here are two possible extremes:

A: Make a brainstorm session with potential users and let them write down features on Post-it notes. When this is done you ask the users what the most important features are, and afterwards ask the development team what they can have ready at the end of the next two weeks’ sprint.

B: Bring in UX experts, let them make an extensive field study, build prototypes, let users test the prototypes and capture all the requirements in detailed specifications. To top it all detailed acceptance criteria for each user story are documented.

Let’s consider how the two extremes will work in different scenarios.

App development in tough competition

Consider the case where you are the owner of a small start up and you have an idea for a new app. There are a lot of other companies that could have the same idea. If you go for extreme B, there is a high risk that your competitors have the competing app live before you have finished collecting your requirements. Hence, I would recommend an approach similar to option A and use the opportunity to quote Reid Hoffman, the founder of LinkedIn:

 “If you are not embarrassed by the first version of your product, you’ve launched too late.”

Delivery of specific requirements on a fixed date

You work in a bank and their license to operate depends on the compliance portal that your project must deliver. The portal must go live before a certain date. In this case I would go for extreme B and make sure you have defined exactly what is the “Must Have” requirements before you start the first delivery stage. You can still use Scrum to deliver your fixed scope. But you need fixed requirements to ensure you deliver the must have requirements on time.

Conclusion

PRINCE2 and Scrum can be combined, but it is very important you tailor your approach to your project environment.

Further reading

My article is based on experience and the reference below:

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