Pragmatic Planning

Even though good planning is more dynamic in an iterative process, doing it accurately is far easier. While executing iteration N of any phase, the software project manager must be monitoring and controlling against a plan that was initiated in iteration N - 1 and must be planning iteration N + 1. The art of good project-management is to make trade-offs in the current iteration plan and the next iteration plan based on objective results in the current iteration and previous iterations. This concept seems, and is, overwhelming in early phases or in projects that are pioneering iterative development. But if the planning pump is primed successfully, the process becomes surprisingly easy as the project progresses into the phases in which high-fidelity planning is necessary for success.

Aside from bad architectures and misunderstood requirements, inadequate planning (and subsequent bad management) is one of the most common reasons for project failures. Conversely, the success of every successful project can be attributed in part to good planning. This book emphasizes the importance of three perspectives: planning, requirements, and architecture. The end products associated with these perspectives (a software development plan, requirements specifications, and an architecture description document) are not emphasized. On most successful projects, they are not very important once they have been produced. They are rarely used by most performers on a day-to-day basis, they are not very interesting to the end user, and their paper representations are just the tip of the iceberg with respect to the working details that underlie them.

While a planning document is not very useful as an end item, the act of planning is extremely important to project success. It provides a framework and forcing functions for making decisions, ensures buy-in on the part of stakeholders and performers, and transforms subjective, generic process frameworks into objective processes. A project's plan is a definition of how the project requirements will be transformed into a product within the business constraints. It must be realistic, it must be current, it must be a team product, it must be understood by the stakeholders, and it must be used.

Plans are not just for managers. The more open and visible the planning process and results, the more ownership there is among the team members who need to execute it. Bad, closely held plans cause attrition. Good, open plans can shape cultures and encourage teamwork.

Project Management Made Easy

Project Management Made Easy

What you need to know about… Project Management Made Easy! Project management consists of more than just a large building project and can encompass small projects as well. No matter what the size of your project, you need to have some sort of project management. How you manage your project has everything to do with its outcome.

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