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When to Use Iterative Project Planning
By Johanna Rothman

Iterative project planning is useful when the uncertainty is high, and the risk to shipping all requested features at the requested ship date is high. The iterative planning and scheduling technique provides:

  1. A sense of urgency for the development team.
  2. The ability to plan and adapt the critical path for the gradual unfolding of knowledge about the project.
  3. A planned replanning effort. Most projects replan, this technique sets the expectations that the replanning will occur.
  4. Use of the critical path to define priorities and motivate and inform the staff to the realities of the project.

Initially fixing the milestones but not the tasks allows for studiously and continuously shifting the critical path to make the most progress in a project. Then, even if the original dates are based on nothing but senior management’s wishes, the project manager can use a rational approach to plan and manage the project.

This article is an excerpt from the article “Iterative Software Project Planning and Tracking”, which can be found at: http://www.jrothman.com/Papers/7ICSQ97.html

Johanna Rothman consults, speaks, and writes on managing high-technology product development. Johanna is the author of Manage It!’Your Guide to Modern Pragmatic Project Management’. She is the coauthor of the pragmatic Behind Closed Doors, Secrets of Great Management, and author of the highly acclaimed Hiring the Best Knowledge Workers, Techies & Nerds: The Secrets and Science of Hiring Technical People. And, Johanna is a host and session leader at the Amplifying Your Effectiveness (AYE) conference (http://www.ayeconference.com). You can see Johanna’s other writings at http://www.jrothman.com.

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