Academic journal article Journal of Information Systems Education

Planning and Sprinting: Use of a Hybrid Project Management Methodology within a CIS Capstone Course

Academic journal article Journal of Information Systems Education

Planning and Sprinting: Use of a Hybrid Project Management Methodology within a CIS Capstone Course

Article excerpt


Plan first, execute second--this is the paradigm of traditional project management. Adapt to change as you iterate--this is the paradigm of agile project management. These competing methodologies represent two ends of a spectrum between linear (traditional) and non-linear (agile) project management processes. While early debate raged as to which methodology was best (Glass et al., 2001; Nerur, 2005), the debate now seems to be settling on middle ground. Gartner recently forecasted that a majority of software development projects will use some form of agile project management methods by 2012 and also acknowledged that most software projects use a combination of waterfall and agile methods (Murphy et al., 2010; Norton, 2008).

Even though this shift toward middle ground is occurring within industry, this shift has not necessarily been reflected within information systems education. Studies suggest (either directly or indirectly) that traditional project management methods are often the focus of project management education in information systems courses (e.g., Du et al., 2004; Lesko, 2009; Reinicke and Janicki, 2011; Smith et al., 2008). While there are some exceptions (e.g.,, Jones, 2003; Tan et al., 2010; Yue et al., 2009), and demand for more variation in project management methodologies may be increasing, to our knowledge research on the effectiveness of hybrid project management methodologies within information systems classes has not yet been conducted.

Our primary objective within this paper is to demonstrate the validity of using a hybrid project management process for an applied project within a computer information systems (CIS) capstone course. We explain how we organized and delivered four sections of an undergraduate senior-level CIS capstone course during the 2011-2012 academic year within which teams of students were asked to develop prototypes for a real-world client using a process combining traditional (waterfall) and agile (scrum) project management methodologies. We also report the results and analysis of a survey taken by the students at the end of the course. Specifically, the cross-sectional survey assesses student perceptions associated with the hybrid project management methodology implemented within the course. Survey questions were based on the following theoretically motivated constructs: satisfaction (Melone, 1990; Hayes, 1998), behavioral predictors of adoption and diffusion of innovations (Moore and Benbasat, 1991; Rogers, 2003), critical success factors of traditional projects (Pinto and Prescott, 1988), and critical success factors of agile projects (Chow and Cao, 2008).

The remainder of the paper is organized as follows: 1) We discuss the background of traditional project management, agile project management, and the hybrid approach, 2) We present the teaching methods used in our redesigned CIS capstone course, 3) We report the results of an end-of-term survey designed to assess student perceptions of our hybrid approach, and 4) We conclude with discussion, lessons learned, implications, and best practices.


2.1 Traditional Project Management (TPM)

Traditional project management (TPM) is defined by Wysocki (2009) as a linear or incremental approach to project management that consists of five primary phases or process groups: scoping, planning, launching, monitoring and controlling, and closing. The linear approach, often called the "waterfall" approach, assumes that once a phase is complete, it will not be returned to for the duration of the project. The iterative approach uses the same phases, but typically involves scoping and planning the entire project first, then launching and delivering increments of the software sequentially, while not returning to the scoping or planning phase for the duration of the project. Such linear and incremental methods are also taught by the Project Management Institute (PMI) in their Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK) Guide (ANSI and PMI, 2004) using five similar process groups: initiating, planning, executing, monitoring and controlling, and closing. …

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