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PMP Rolling Wave Planning – Part 2PMP Rolling Wave Planning – Part 2

Check out the diagram below before I continue…

PMP Rolling Wave Planning – Part 1

Let me take you through the above diagram in some detail.

Start with the definition that any project will need to be broken down into a series of steps, phases, or stages. You can see that a management stage occupies a timeframe.
A management stage is a partition of the project with management decision points and each stage equates to the commitment of resources and authority to spend.

Each management stage provides the following important features:

  • The stage provides review and decision points
  • The stage provides the opportunity to assess the project viability at regular time intervals
  • The stage gives the project manager and the project board or steering group the ability to ensure that key decisions are made
  • Each stage is given the tolerance which allows the approach of management by exception to be applied both at a project and stage level
  • Once each stage is approved, this delegates authority to the project manager for the rest of that stage

At the end of each stage, a gate review or end stage assessment occurs. The project manager will have created the next stage plan ready for that review so that senior management can make the decision whether to proceed to the next stage or not.

This is progressive elaboration and rolling wave planning in action!

Project stages – How many?

Many factors will influence how many stages are necessary, what detail will occur in each, and the length of each stage.

Factors that influence the above are usually driven by answering the following questions:

  • How far ahead is it sensible to plan?
  • Where do key decisions need to be made?
  • How much risk and uncertainty does the project have?
  • How complex is the project?
  • How confident is the project steering team or project board?

Finally, the tradeoff will need to be made, given the characteristics of the project, of many short stages, vs. fewer long stages.

Many short stages will provide a higher management overhead – even just considering the number of gate reviews along with their preparation that would be required.
While fewer longer stages will provide less control. The commitment of higher resources including budget, and a longer time frame committed to buy management, may not give sufficient tight control.

Prior to each gate or end stage review, the project manager needs to do some planning – and this consist of three basic steps:

  1. Extract the relevant high level detail of the next stage from the project plan
  2. Convert that high-level detail into lower level detail for the stage plan
  3. Update the project plan with any changes from the new stage plan detail

You can see here that because of planning the next stage in detail for the first time, new information may come to light that could result in any or all the following:

  • New products or milestones are added
  • The stage duration may be changed – making it longer or shorter
  • The cost of the stage may be different – making it more or less expensive
  • New or more resources – both human and nonhuman may be needed

The consequences of the above will almost certainly mean that those changes need to be reflected upwards back into the project plan.

The PMP Exam

The PMP exam is based upon the Project Management Institute’s Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK). This consists of a process framework who structure contains all the material Needed To study and prepare for the exam.

All the processes are organized into ten knowledge areas and based on five foundational process groups:

  1. Initiating – Process is that begin the project
  2. Planning – Process is that create the plans that will govern the work
  3. Executing – Process is that execute the plans and produce work
  4. Monitoring and controlling – Process is that compare the results to the plan and make adjustments for future work
  5. Closing – Process is that complete the project or phase or component of a project or produce your mind, create records, and archive information.

Those five process groups consist in total of 47 process is performed as part of a project.

The term “Process” Is one of the most important and frequently used terms you will encounter when studying for your PMP Exam. Each process will consist of three elements, Inputs, tools and techniques, and outputs.

These processes Are not simply carried out in series, But rather in an iterative fashion.

You can think of the process groups as categories for each of the processes, each helping you understand by giving you some thirds most commonly associated with each one.

You will notice some overlap between the groups, and this mirrors the fact that there is occasionally some overlap between processes

The processes use progressive elaboration/Rolling wave planning

Do not fall into the trap of thinking that the first step is to do the process is in initiation, the second step is to do the process is in planning, and so on.

Although projects may flow very roughly that way, you need to understand that the scope of a project is “Progressively elaborated”, and will need rolling wave planning.

Some planning must take place, then some executing, then some controlling. Further planning may be performed, further executing, and so on. In this way, you can see that the five process groups are not completely linear, Indeed, some processes may be repeated multiple times throughout the project lifecycle.

Do not confuse these process is with project phases or stages, as it is important that you understand that all the process is could be performed one or more times within each projects phase or stage.

Okay, so now you know what the terms “rolling wave planning” and “progressive elaboration” mean, it’s time for you to:

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