The Planning package is an integral part of the Rolling Wave planning process. In this process the Program Management Office (PMO) is encouraged to detail plan only as far into the future as reasonably can be defined. Depending on the contract type, this period is normally 3 to 6 months in to the future. This leaves the remaining work to be grouped into what’s called Planning Packages (PPs). The normal definition for PPs is:
A Planning Package represents future work that cannot be defined into specific work packages or for which there is insufficient information to make detail planning practical.
Typical characteristics of PPs are:
- General, high-level scope of work
- Specific schedule with start and end dates
- Time-phased budget (at higher level of detail)
- Conforms to Control Account (CA) budget, schedule, and scope of work constraints
- Usually longer in duration than Work Packages
- For planning only, no performance measurement or actual cost collection is accrued
- Broken down into Work Packages over time
In the Rolling Wave planning process:
- All work is planned in the time-frame in which it is expected to be accomplished
- Work which cannot readily be planned in detail Work Packages is planned in Planning Packages
- CA Plans generally include the next three to six months of work detail planned as Work Packages;
- Planning Packages are re-planned as Work Packages as soon as possible and certainly before the work enters the current reporting period plus one accounting period.
The Rolling Wave planning process is depicted in the next two charts. With the first showing the initial 3 to 6 month period detail planned as well as can be done. You’ll note that WP#5 has been detail planned beyond the 3 to 6 month Rolling Wave period, but if you have the detail knowledge of how work is to be performed it is acceptable to do so.
The next chart shows how PP#1 is detail planned as the 3 to 6 month Rolling Wave time line crosses it.
As you can see from the above chart even some of the work (PP#3) is still not able to be defined in sufficient detail to break it into reasonable Work Packages (WPs). As such it will be detail planned either as the Rolling Wave time line crosses it or sufficient details are known to enable it to be detail planned.
Some guidelines to be remembered when segmenting PPs into WPs are as follows:
- Scope – Scope of the Children WPs must be consistent with the scope of the Parent PP
- Schedule – Children WPs must be within the Early Start & Late Finish of the Parent PP
- Budget – Sum of the values of the budgets for the Children must be equal to the Parent PP
- All resulting PPs starts should be consistent with the 3 to 6 month Rolling Wave forward planning guidelines being observed for all WPs
Finally, the Rolling Wave planning process keeps the team focused on the near term efforts that can be reasonably defined and detail planned in order to not overlook those same near term problems.
Detail planning too far down the road can cause you to miss problems right in front of you!