Monthly Archives: April 2004

Multilevel Planning

Even the smallest projects have multiple constituents. For each type of constituent, there has to be a plan that talks to their concerns. Some of the plans may overlap, however, other than milestones, you don’t want to duplicate information across the plans.

The three most common levels of planning are:

  1. Customer Delivery Plan
  2. Project Milestone Plan
  3. Individual Task Plan

The Customer Delivery Plan is the plan used to communicate with the project’s Customer. This plan represents the project team’s commitment to the Customer. Must account for risks and contingencies, and details the assumptions as it pertains to the Customer engagement. Be mindful that the Customer is making plans based on the team’s commitment to deliver according to this plan. Milestone dates can only change in this plan if the Customer agrees to the change. Tasks in this plan tend to be long, several weeks each with multiple people assigned to them, since they represent units of work of value to the Customer. The details to update this plan come from the Project Milestone Plan.

The Project Milestone Plan is used by the team to guide the development work. This is based on the team’s Software Development Strategy. Contains one or more milestones for each iteration. Contains the milestones published in the Customer Delivery Plan. Ensures that those milestones are in front of the project team on every occasion that the team needs to make any decisions. The task length in this plan is rigid: each task is one week long. Few tasks are occasionally longer, but only if they are some weeks out. The details to update this plan come from the Individual Task Plans.

The Individual Task Plans contain the ground truth about the project. Each participant needs to have one. These plans contain the detail of the work done on the project. The granularity of the tasks in this plan is 60 to 90 minutes of Effective On-Task Time. The reason that the other, higher level, plans are real is because they are fed by these plans that each person has at the level where actual work is getting done.

Keeping these plans for the project ensure that your project will be a success. Your constituents at any time know what you have done, what are you doing, and where are you headed.