What is Rolling Wave Planning and Progressive Elaboration?

what is rolling wave planning what is progressive elaboration - What is Rolling Wave Planning and Progressive Elaboration?

From the Define Activities process, we already know that the Work Packages are divided into Activities. But do you want to divide all the Work Packages into Activities in the planning phase itself? Do you even have all the information that you would need to do so? What if your project has 1000 or 10000 work packages, wouldn’t it take forever?

Here’s a solution, can you decompose work packages into activities as their delivery draws closer? That way you would have alot more information about these work packages and you wouldn’t delay the project as a whole. But then isn’t this a bit counter intuitive? Don’t you think Project Management is all about planning every single detail possible? Actually no! Rolling Wave Planning is a form of something known as Progressive Elaboration.

Progressive Elaboration

A slight detour here but its important to look into Progressive Elaboration at this point. The formal definition is as below,

Progressive elaboration involves continuously improving and detailing a plan as more detailed and specific information and more accurate estimates become available. Progressive elaboration allows a project management team to define work and manage it to a greater level of detail as the project evolves.

Rolling Wave Planning and Prototypes are two forms of Progressive Elaboration.

Rolling Wave Planning

As a technique in the Define Activities process, Rolling Wave Planning ensures that detailed planning is done for work packages to be delivered in the near term while only a high-level planning is enough for work packages to be delivered later. As the project progresses and requirements become clearer, more detailed planning for the Work Packages follow. To be precise you basically plan as you go.

Do you smell Agile?

If yes, that’s because Agile actually makes use of the Rolling Wave Planning technique. The whole idea is to plan an iteration in detail, deliver it and move to the next iteration. Can you also see shades of prototyping here?

Check more articles on Schedule Management

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