March 21, 2024
10 minutes read
Technology Solution Delivery

Mastering Hybrid Agile: Building the Foundation for Scaled Scrum

In the realm of project management, the evolution towards agile methodologies, particularly through the adoption of Hybrid Agile approaches like Scaled Scrum, marks an important shift for organizations aiming to navigate the complexities of large-scale project and program execution. Scaled Scrum extends the conventional Scrum framework to coordinate multiple teams’ efforts, enabling a cohesive approach to managing expansive projects emphasizing collective effort and phased development. This methodology is especially pertinent for organizations that have experienced success with individual Scrum teams. However, many organizations still need the sequential nature of the Waterfall model due to the demands of staying coordinated with the strategic and operational objectives of the organization. Individual Scrum teams emphasize the need for ownership and autonomy. While these are important qualities of a successful Scrum team, cross-team dependencies, timing, and architectural scalability require communication and coordination.  Transitioning to a Scaled Scrum environment through a hybrid model provides an opportunity to leverage this success on a broader scale, introducing agility while maintaining the structural benefits of traditional waterfall program management practices.


Integrating Scrum practices into the Waterfall model as part of a hybrid approach allows a melding of bottom-up and top-down approaches using now familiar structures. By blending the predictability of the Waterfall model with the flexibility and responsiveness of Scrum, organizations can achieve a balanced project management approach. This balance is crucial for navigating project challenges effectively and delivering complex projects successfully. However, the foundation of this success lies in the correct organization and optimal sizing of Scrum teams, underscoring the principle that organizational structure is the bedrock upon which agile methodologies can flourish.


For this transition to be effective, organizations must first ensure they are correctly structured. A crucial aspect of this structure is the formation of Scrum teams that are optimally sized to maintain a manageable span of control This discussion thread on this topic summarizes  observations made in many hybrid agile environments. This foundational step is essential for creating teams that can function efficiently and with a high degree of responsiveness within the Scaled Scrum framework. Only with teams that are properly organized and sized can organizations begin to address the dual objectives of maturing their Scrum practices and interconnecting these teams within a hybrid program, especially when these teams are collaborating on a common product or striving towards a shared goal and fully recognizes the benefits of agile.

The tendency of organizations to perceive challenges as stemming from personnel issues rather than underlying structural problems is a common pitfall. This perspective often overlooks the importance of organizational design in facilitating effective team dynamics and agile adoption. Proper organization is a prerequisite for accurately assessing the capabilities of a team, identifying potential skill and behavioral gaps, and implementing targeted improvements. It is only within a well-organized framework that the true potential of each team member can be realized, and the collective strengths of the team can be directed towards achieving project objectives.


Are you prepared to harness the potential of Agile methodologies for your business pursuits? Whether you are embarking on your Agile journey or seeking to refine established practices, our experienced team is poised to provide steadfast support. Navigate the complexities of Agile alongside us, as we work together to revolutionize your business landscape. Connect with us today to embark on a journey towards transformative success.


What is hybrid agile?

Hybrid agile is a project management approach that leverages both waterfall and agile methodologies. It aims to provide the predictability and structure of waterfall while benefiting from the flexibility and responsiveness of agile practices at the team level. 

While Scrum teams focus on delivering value within their sprints, program management oversees the project’s overall direction, setting milestones and monitoring progress against predefined schedules and budgets. The project is divided into phases, with each phase representing a significant milestone or deliverable. At the end of each phase, there’s an integration and testing phase to ensure the work completed by different teams aligns with project objectives.

Throughout the project, mechanisms are in place to gather feedback from stakeholders, customers, and end-users. This feedback loop allows for adaptation of the project plan, refinement of requirements, and necessary course corrections. Once all phases are completed and the product is ready for release, there’s a final deployment phase where the entire product is integrated, tested, and deployed for production use.

What is the difference between agile and hybrid agile?

Pure agile methodologies are favored when projects require maximum flexibility, rapid adaptation to changing requirements, and a high degree of collaboration among cross-functional teams. It’s typically employed in scenarios where the end product is not clearly defined upfront or when the market demands quick releases and frequent updates. Startups, small teams, and projects with dynamic or uncertain requirements often find pure agile approaches beneficial.

However, in larger organizations with more complex projects or those operating in highly regulated industries, there’s often a need for a degree of predictability and structure that pure agile methodologies may not inherently provide. This is where hybrid agile comes into play. Larger organizations may opt for a hybrid approach when they want to leverage the benefits of agile practices while still maintaining some level of predictability and control over timelines and deliverables.

In essence, the decision to use pure agile or hybrid agile depends on the specific context of the project, including its size, complexity, regulatory requirements, market dynamics, and organizational culture. Pure agile is best suited for projects where flexibility and adaptability are paramount, while hybrid agile is preferred in situations where a balance between agility and predictability is necessary to meet organizational objectives effectively.

What is a hybrid Agile team structure?

A hybrid Agile team structure when scaling with Waterfall Program Management and individual Scrum teams typically involves a combination of traditional waterfall project management practices at the program level and Agile methodologies at the team level. Here’s how it can be structured:

  • Program Management (Waterfall):

At the program level, a traditional waterfall project management approach is employed. This involves detailed upfront planning, sequential execution of phases, and a focus on predefined schedules and budgets.

Program managers oversee the overall direction of the project, setting milestones, monitoring progress, and ensuring alignment with organizational objectives.

Requirements are typically defined upfront and undergo a formal change control process to manage scope changes.

  • Individual Scrum Teams (Agile):

Within the program, individual Scrum teams operate in an Agile framework. These teams are cross-functional and self-organizing, focusing on delivering value in short, iterative cycles known as sprints.

Each Scrum team works independently, with its own Product Owner responsible for managing the product backlog and prioritizing tasks.

Scrum teams hold regular ceremonies such as sprint planning, daily stand-ups, sprint reviews, and retrospectives to facilitate collaboration, transparency, and continuous improvement.

What is large scale scrum?

In large organizations, balancing top-down planning and dependency mapping with Agile principles at the team level is crucial for successful execution of complex projects. While the Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) is gaining prominence as a widely adopted approach, it’s important to note that SAFe is not the only Scrum at scale methodology. However, SAFe stands out for its structured approach to scaling Agile practices across multiple teams.

At the top-down level, SAFe emphasizes the importance of strategic alignment and planning. This involves defining clear objectives, prioritizing initiatives, and allocating resources effectively. By establishing a shared vision and roadmap, leadership ensures that all teams are aligned with organizational goals and priorities.

Simultaneously, SAFe recognizes the importance of Agile principles at the team level. Agile teams operate in short iterations, delivering value incrementally and responding quickly to change. They are empowered to self-organize, collaborate closely, and make autonomous decisions to achieve their objectives.

To reconcile these two perspectives, SAFe introduces mechanisms for dependency mapping and coordination. Teams identify dependencies early on and work collaboratively to address them. Regular synchronization events, such as PI Planning and Scrum of Scrums, provide opportunities for teams to align their work, resolve dependencies, and ensure that everyone is moving in the same direction.

By maintaining a balance between top-down planning and Agile principles at the team level, organizations can achieve agility at scale while ensuring alignment with strategic objectives. This enables them to respond effectively to market changes, deliver value to customers, and drive continuous improvement across the enterprise.

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