Scoping & Planning a Project in a Day

Scoping & Planning a Project in a Day

If you want to shorten a project there is one place where – more than any other – the greatest potential for shortening exists.

This is right at the beginning, as soon as the idea for the project is born.

You don’t have to take our word for this.

In their book, Developing Products in Half the Time, the authors Smith and Reinertsen refer to the beginning of the project as ‘the fuzzy front end’. They say this: ‘Time is an irreplaceable resource. When a month of potential development time is squandered, it can never be recovered … each month of delay has a quantifiable cost of delay. Our goal as developers is to find opportunities to buy cycle time for less than this cost. These opportunities, large and small, appear throughout the development process. There is, however, one place that we could call the “bargain basement” of cycle time reduction opportunities. It is the place that we consistently find the least expensive opportunities to achieve large improvements in time to market. We call this stage of development the Fuzzy Front End of the development program. It is the fuzzy zone between when the opportunity is known and when we mount a serious effort on the development project.’

If the ‘fuzzy front end’ is where ‘opportunities to achieve large improvements in time to market’ are greatest, then learning to scope and plan a project in a day is the best way of maxing out those opportunities.

If you don’t scope and plan the project in a day, what’s the alternative? It goes something like this:
1. Somebody identifies some kind of need or requirement or problem that needs to be solved.
2. Based on this somebody does some ferreting around and then writes a proposal / business case / specification.
3. This is reviewed by the stakeholders (those people affected by the project) and the reviews are fed back to the author of the document.
4. There are updates to the document, plus perhaps flurries of e-mail exchanges, phone calls, requests for information and meetings to resolve various issues.
5. Items 3 and 4 get looped around a number of times until finally …
6. There is agreement on what we are going to do.
7. Then somebody is charged with building a plan.
8. That somebody does some ferreting around and then writes a plan.
9. That plan is reviewed by some or all of the stakeholders and the reviews are fed back to the author.
10. There are updates to the plan, perhaps more e-mails, phone calls, requests for information and meetings – particularly if there is a gap between what the stakeholders want and what the project team say is possible.
11. Items 9 and 10 get looped around a number of times until finally …
12. There is agreement on the plan.

This process can take weeks … months … years, in some cases.

As an alternative to all of this carry on, you can scope and plan the project in a day.

 

So – What is it?

Exactly as it says on the tin. It is possible to scope and plan a project – even very large ones – in a day.

 

Really?

Yes. The organizations that ETP has done this for include Interxion, the European Commission, Teamsoft, Bank of Ireland, Clinical Grid, Davy Stockbrokers, Elan, Ulster Bank, Coca Cola, EPC, Eastern Health Shared Services, Special Olympics World Games 2003, National Grid, Douglas Wallace, Irish Cervical Screening Programme, Anord, Repak (Ireland’s 5-year Recycling Strategy), Valista, Motricity, Programme of Action for Children and Stryker.

Three of the projects involved the mergers of two companies. The Special Olympics World Games 2003 was planned by repeated applications of this technique. ETP helped Coca Cola to plan a 700 man-year project using this technique.

Again – you don’t have to take our word for this:

“We got ETP to use this technique for us on two mission-critical projects.  I was very skeptical that this could be done in a day but I was there – I saw it with my own eyes.  This stuff works.”

– Raomal Perera

                         Serial Entrepreneur & Professor of Entrepreneurial Studies at INSEAD

 

How does it work?

Essentially, there is a 1-day session in which the plan is built. Project stakeholders have to do some preparation before the 1-day session and there is some follow-up afterwards.

 

What are the deliverables from the Scoping & Planning session?

  • A clear definition of the project deliverables and key milestones
  • The delivery date and schedule
  • The effort and budget required
  • Quality measures
  • Project management responsibilities clearly defined
  • A reporting structure
  • A communication plan to keep the stakeholders up to date with project progress
  • The principal assumptions on which the project is based
  • Gantt Chart to graphically outline the project lifecycle
  • Risks identified and appropriate actions identified to minimize risks
  • Any other findings and recommendations.