Hybrid IT delivery models

A hybrid model is the combination or integration of two separate but coherent delivery models. Two (of many) reasons for an organization to use a hybrid model are:

  • The organization is transitioning from one model to another and is using a combination of models while making the transition.
  • The organization is very large and therefore has to organize the collaboration of a great number of teams.

In this section we discuss two hybrid models. One model is focused on predictability and the other on exploration. The first model is optimized for areas that are well-understood and well-known. The second model is optimized for areas of uncertainty.

Combining a more predictable evolution of products and technologies with the new and innovative ones is the essence of a hybrid approach. Other terms used for this phenomenon are bimodal or blended IT delivery model.

There are several combinations possible. The first is a sequential IT delivery model combined with a high-performance IT delivery model. Such a combination, described in the next section, is the demand/supply combination in which the demand party uses a sequential model (e.g. waterfall) and the supply party a high-performance model (e.g. Scrum).

The second combination described in this section is about implementing Agile in a large organization, often called "Agile at scale" or "Scaled Agile". Examples of Agile at scale are Large Scale Scrum (abbreviated to LeSS, see www.less.works) and Nexus (developed by Ken Schwaber, author of the Scrum guide).

We have chosen to describe the widely used Scaled Agile framework (abbreviated to SAFe®) as an example of implementing Agile at scale.

This figure shows both hybrid IT delivery models and how they relate to the other IT delivery models.

Hybrid IT delivery models.

Demand/supply model

SAFe model

An often-seen demand/supply combination is the combination in which the demand party (often referred to as "the business") uses a waterfall approach and the supply party (usually the IT organization) uses a Scrum approach. In IT delivery, a separation can be made between the responsibilities of client, user, manager, and operations on the one hand (demand party) and system developer and supplier on the other hand (supply party). 

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The Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe®) is a structured hybrid IT delivery approach that helps large enterprises implement Agile at large scale. SAFe distinguishes four configurations. The first configuration is mainly for small or starting organizations. The subsequent configurations are more complex and for large(r) organizations.

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Overview of IT delivery models

High performance IT delivery models

       DevOps

       Scrum

       Lean - Agile - Kanban - Spotify

Hybrid IT delivery models

       Demand/supply

       SAFe

Sequential IT delivery models

       Waterfall

       V-model