Breakdown #2: Not making sausage

Because the nature of a project is that it’s a one-off event, right? That said, while projects are not assembly-line activities (despite many efforts by more than one PMO I’ve encountered to attempt to make it so), there are certain things inherent to every project and therefore every project plan: Beginnings, Middles, and Ends. Or, more specifically:

  • Initiation/Planning – Visioning/scope, governance and communication, detailed plans, contracts and statements of work, resource planning and hiring, budgeting
  • Requirements/Definition – Workshops, requirements and specifications, use cases, wireframes, prototypes
  • Build/Development – Code and unit testing! Write formal policies and training manuals and process manuals! Install new infrastructure!
  • Testing/Acceptance – Test scripts and scenarios, QA, UAT, performance testing, bug fixes, change management, roadshows, user training
  • Release/Adoption – Spin up new infrastructure, software releases, policy adoption, process adoption
  • Closeout – Shift to BAU, final acceptance contracts, lessons learned, release resources, close financial books, archive documentation

I start a new project plan the same way every time: first, I figure out what type of project it is, secondly, I determine the necessary “base sections” from the above (which is not exhaustive just a sampling), and third, I reach out to my functional managers to confirm and start getting to the detailed tasks which fill out those sections.

All projects work this way whether it’s a regulatory response or the project is just creating a new product vision or if it’s a process change or if it’s new software or if it’s a group of BAU fixes or if it’s installing new servers: what are we doing, why are we doing it, who is doing it, how are we doing, how to confirm we did it right, how do we move on to the next item.

What’s your approach to breaking down the plan into its essential pieces? How do you section off things and start to flesh out the beginning, the middle, and the end?

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