We have already shown how you must view the plan as a flexible framework and be ready to adapt and change it as the project progresses. It is no good sticking rigidly to a plan that isn’t working and ploughing ahead in the wrong direction.
An example of how you might think about planning is to imagine you are driving from A to B. You know where your objective (B) is but the optimum route to get there may vary during the journey as traffic conditions alter, as you hear radio warnings of roadworks or accidents ahead.
This leads us to the concept of the sliding planning window, our preferred approach to planning. This technique is also known as rolling-wave planning. It is based on the premise that you should only plan in detail as far ahead as is sensible at the time. There are managers who try to plan a project in minute detail from beginning to end hoping to eliminate uncertainty. This isn’t possible.
A detailed plan takes a lot of time and effort to develop and maintain. A plan that is too detailed too far ahead will simply consume resources and become inflexible.
How far ahead it is sensible to plan in detail depends very much on the complexity of the project, the circumstances and environment in which you are working and the stability or otherwise of external factors that may affect the project. There may be outputs from the project itself that once achieved will make clearer the following stages of the project.