A guide to blending Agile and traditional PM methods in hybrid project management

Waterfall planning with agile execution? Waterfall execution with agile development? See how to blend approaches together in a hybrid approach.

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As project managers, we envision progress, anticipate obstacles, and determine the best processes to reach our goals. And as we delve deeper into project management, we explore various methodologies and hone our skills in creating efficient methods to deliver projects on time, within scope, and budget.

Through this continuous learning and experience, a versatile approach to project management has emerged—hybrid project management.

In this article, we will demystify the different types of project management methodologies, explore how to blend them into a hybrid method, and share why it's worth considering for your next project.

Types of project management

Here are the main types of project management:

Traditional waterfall method

Traditional project management, commonly known as the waterfall approach, relies on a well-structured plan with clearly defined steps and processes that unfold linearly—usually structured around five project phases. This popular method is employed across diverse industries, particularly for projects with predictable outcomes and minimal requirement changes. Waterfall project management allows for precise planning, resource allocation, and budget control.

However, the rigidity of traditional project management may not suit all projects, especially those with uncertain or evolving requirements. In such situations, more flexible methodologies like agile or hybrid approaches are better equipped to handle change and adapt to unexpected challenges.

The traditional waterfall approach in five phases
The five phases of the traditional waterfall approach


Agile project management has become a dynamic and adaptable method that prioritizes speed and flexibility. Its goal is to deliver value quickly by dividing work into smaller, iterative components called sprints. This iterative process accommodates shifting requirements and enables the frequent incorporation of stakeholder feedback, ensuring the project remains aligned with client needs.

The collaborative nature of the agile methodology encourages cross-functional teams to work closely together, fostering continuous improvement and adaptability. This approach is particularly well-suited for projects with evolving requirements or rapidly changing environments, as it allows agile teams to respond effectively to new challenges and ensure the highest quality deliverables upon completion.


Scrum project management is a modern method that frequently complements the agile approach, especially in software development projects. Like agile, it is centered around continuous improvement (e.g., through retrospectives) and iterative testing, focusing on rapidly delivering value. The scrum framework acknowledges that requirements may change or be initially unknown at the project's outset, making it highly adaptable.

The primary distinction between agile and scrum lies in their product delivery. While agile ultimately delivers the outcome at the end of its iterative cycles, scrum accommodates more innovative ideas by enabling quicker launches within shorter cycles. This feature makes scrum especially suitable for projects that demand rapid response to market changes or evolving client needs.

What is hybrid project management?

Hybrid project management is a versatile approach that combines elements from different project management frameworks, allowing you to tailor your methodology to best suit the project at hand. By merging various methods, organizations can capitalize on the strengths of each approach while mitigating their weaknesses.

As clients increasingly demand higher quality and quicker delivery, a project manager and their team face the challenge of maintaining quality while expediting project timelines. Hybrid project management offers a solution by preserving the necessary structure and enabling innovative decision-making to enhance product and user experience.

Though scrum and agile can form a hybrid approach due to their similarities, a more popular combination involves merging elements of traditional waterfall and agile methodologies. This blend maximizes the benefits of both methods, providing an adaptable strategy for project delivery.

➡️ Learn more about the differences between scrum and waterfall

When to choose hybrid instead of other individual methods

Choosing a hybrid project management approach involves considering various factors to determine if it best fits your project, client, and team. By combining elements from different methodologies, a hybrid approach offers a customized and adaptable strategy for project delivery.

To determine if a hybrid approach is suitable for your project, take into account the following factors:

  1. Project flexibility and adaptation: Agile is ideal for project parts that need continuous innovation and change. If your project requires frequent adjustments, incorporating agile components can be beneficial.
  2. Clear steps and processes: The traditional waterfall approach works best for tasks with a sequential order and specific requirements. If your project involves parts with well-defined steps, incorporating waterfall elements can provide structure and clarity.
  3. Team familiarity with methodologies: Ensure your team members understand and can adapt to new methods. Training and support may be necessary to facilitate a smooth transition to a hybrid approach.
  4. Resource availability: Combining methodologies requires sufficient resources, including time, budget, and personnel. A dedicated project team that can collaborate daily is critical to successfully implementing a hybrid approach.
  5. Client and stakeholder alignment: Securing stakeholder buy-in is essential for implementing a hybrid strategy. Stakeholders must be willing to provide frequent feedback and support the flexibility of a hybrid approach.
  6. Budget flexibility: A hybrid approach often requires a flexible budget due to evolving deliverables and the need for adaptation. Consider whether your project's budget can accommodate potential changes throughout the project lifecycle.
  7. Team communication and collaboration: A hybrid approach demands strong communication and teamwork. Assess your team's ability to collaborate effectively and regularly to ensure a successful implementation.
  8. Continuous evaluation and improvement: A hybrid approach requires regular feedback, adjustments, and enhancements for success. Your team must be open to change and dedicated to refining the process continually.

When evaluating whether to use a hybrid project management approach, consider the specific benefits and challenges related to your project. Determine if the extra effort required to implement a hybrid strategy will yield better results without causing unnecessary delays, ensuring that your project runs efficiently and effectively.

Examples of how to structure a project with a hybrid methodology

Below is the process for launching a website:

  • Research/strategy
  • UX design (user testing can happen here)
  • UI design (user testing can happen here)
  • Development
  • QA (user testing can happen here)
  • Launch

Let’s look at how you can structure these phases using a hybrid project management methodology:

Example #1: Waterfall project planning and agile execution

In this example, you're using the traditional method during the planning phase. Then, you use agile sprints to move smaller tasks through the project phases while continuously learning from each sprint.

Let's see which phase for the website launch would fall under which project management method:


  • Research & strategy - To begin any design project, you must understand your client's landscape, competitors, and preferences regarding user experience and design. Gather all the needs, requirements, and expectations upfront.
  • UX - Start with the user experience phase, design, test, and gather feedback and approval from the stakeholders.


As you transition from the UX phase and start testing with users and gathering stakeholder feedback, the agile loop begins, allowing you to adapt subsequent designs based on the lessons learned from the first round.

Some teams may prefer to complete all UX work before starting UI to ensure all functionality and structure are finalized before applying UI and then have the UI and development phases run through the agile process.

  • UI - Once stakeholders in the UX phase approve a few pages, move those pages into the UI phase and continue the agile feedback, adaptation, and approval loop. As stakeholders approve the UX of additional pages, they move into the UI phase.
  • Development & testing - Similarly to how UX moves into UI, approved UI designs can move into development and testing.

Short-duration sprints help the team maintain focus and address issues early with clients. The project timeline can be shortened due to the continuous movement of tasks through each phase without waiting for the entire UX phase to be completed before starting UI, and so on. This hybrid approach combines the strengths of waterfall planning and agile execution for optimal project management.

One example of hybrid project management with waterfall planning phases and agile execution phases
A sample view of waterfall planning blended with agile execution

Example #2.: Waterfall planning/execution and agile development

The research, strategy, and UX/UI design phases follow a traditional waterfall methodology in this example. This allows more time to gather stakeholder approvals and visualize the entire design before focusing on development.

Once the development phase starts, you can define your sprints, create backlogs, and complete all tasks within the agile project management approach to reach the final launch.

One example of hybrid project management with waterfall planning and execution phases and agile development phases
A sample view of waterfall planning and execution going into agile development

In my experience, hybrid project management brings together the best of both worlds, offering a versatile and adaptable approach to handling today's dynamic projects.

By tailoring your strategy to suit each phase, you can boost efficiency, better manage risks, and enjoy more successful outcomes. The secret to a thriving hybrid approach is understanding your project's unique needs, maintaining open communication with your team and stakeholders, and staying open to ongoing evaluation and improvement.

So don't hesitate to explore the flexibility and adaptability of hybrid project management for your next project and discover how it can help you achieve better project outcomes.



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