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Agile transformation requires excellent programme and project planning

Transformation programme and project planning

Complex infrastructure programmes involve multiple layers of planning

Waterfall and Agile programme planning

Due to CapEx budgetary arrangements, most transformation programmes are likely suitable at a high level for linear, anticipated planning using Waterfall methods.

However, depending on their duration, they might have phases, with each stage having multiple cycles, also known as sprints. In addition, each sprint might have its list of planned SMART, measurable and quantifiable deliverables with their respective individual owners allocated.

This practice of setting up repeatable cyclical sprints of a fixed duration whilst maintaining a high-level objective across all phases is specific to the Agile Scrum methodology. Agile Scrum planning helps with channelling efforts at the right time in the suitable sprint or holistically to inform senior leadership forums and steering committees groups.

We specialise in delivering programme and project planning services at a high level and equally at detailed levels 2 and 3, using Waterfall and Agile methodologies, Green Book, RIBA, GRIP, and other smaller or bespoke flavours.

Programme and project planning - Bogdan Ciocoiu

The key differentiators between the Waterfall and the Agile programme and project planning approaches are as follows:

Attention to detail

Agile Scrum planning focuses on the details of the next sprint only, instead of all the details of all the programme stages and phases.

Stakeholder collaboration

Agile Scrum actively encourages the participation of stakeholders and the product owner during the daily stand-up planning sessions.

Responsiveness to change requests

Given that Agile Scrum does not require detailed planning of the non-imminent sprints, the methodology is responsive to late changes such as policy variations.

Weak knowledge within the team

Having Agile stand-up planning sessions every morning reveals weak knowledge areas within the team and allows for early mitigation and corrective actions.

Knowledge management

Having Agile Scrum lessons learned at the end of each sprint is an excellent opportunity to strengthen collective knowledge for the subsequent planning sessions.

Top-down planning visibility

The Waterfall approach will provide a more simplistic indicator of the overall completion status against the planned progress of transformation projects.

Public reassurance

An external stakeholder will likely appreciate the simplicity of a Waterfall linear planned timeline that provides a current state and an overall due date.

Create interactive Gantt views using data visualisation software

Interactive programme and project planning using Power BI or Tableau

Work collaboratively with your teams to plan transformation projects and programmes

Enablers for effective programme planning

Effective planning requires several dependencies to maximise the chances of successful benefit realisation.

Programme controls

Use the risk, issue, assumption and dependency trackers (also known as the RAID or MART) to provide additional information about the programme milestones.

Governance arrangements

Leverage the power of daily stand-ups, sprint planning and retrospective meetings, lessons learned or wash up sessions, and senior leadership team forums.

Interactive planning using BI

Use Power BI and Tableau to leverage data visualisation capabilities and enable the programme team to plan milestones interactively.

Benefit tracking

Plan future milestones based on existing benefits realisations reporting information, using an integrated and interactive Gantt chart.

Change management

Replan existing milestones with the programme team using an interactive technique based on approved change requests and policy changes.

Programme and project planning - Bogdan Ciocoiu
Planning is not an exercise one can complete in isolation. Successful planning involves consulting stakeholders and getting their buy-in and commitment to deliver within the given budgetary constraints. In addition, a successful planning process should result in a list of milestones or user stories with accountable owners.
Bogdan Ciocoiu

Programme and project planning methods

Programme and project planning - Bogdan Ciocoiu
Plan detailed milestones in a linear, chronological fashion, using the Waterfall approach
Programme and project planning - Bogdan Ciocoiu
Plan detailed user stories interactively and collaboratively using Agile Scrum methodology
Programme and project planning - Bogdan Ciocoiu
Make high-level programme planning arrangements in informal settings
Programme and project planning - Bogdan Ciocoiu
Respond with the flexibility to top-down planning change requests and variations
Programme and project planning - Bogdan Ciocoiu
Plan milestones around given policy changes dates and external dependencies
Programme and project planning - Bogdan Ciocoiu
Schedule daily stand-up planning sessions with your programme and project teams
Use powerful planning tools during daily morning Agile Scrum stand-ups

Microsoft Planner, Teambox, Asana, Jira, Trello, Smartsheet, Basecamp, Wrike

Hold the team to account by recording decisions during sprint planning meetings

Agile programme and project planning

Typical Agile planning sessions are the sprint planning meetings that will take place at the beginning of each calendar sprint and daily stand-up planning calls, which happens every morning. 

Planned outputs are signed off (when completed) at the end of the relevant sprint within the sprint retrospective meeting and might also form the subject of the lessons learned sessions.

Professional services - Bogdan Ciocoiu

Green Book, RIBA and GRIP frameworks are favouring Waterfall programme planning

Agile methodology can be used for phases planning and delivery

  • Transformation
  • Restructuring and downsizing
  • Mergers and aquisditions
  • Repurposing business units
  • Centres of excellence
  • Business relocations
  • Change management

Planning linear programmes

Unlike private-sector technology projects, major infrastructure projects such as transport, rail or highways and programmes implemented by the UK Her Majesty Government are usually linear, which means they benefit from Waterfall planning and delivery.

At a high level, this means that the level of details and steer set out during their planning phases is likely to perpetuate during the delivery stage. Subject to the duration of these projects, if their term is more significant than ten years, it might mean that private sector initiatives might become more competitive during this time or the remit of the project itself might become obsolete.

Waterfall planning characteristics

Professional services - Bogdan Ciocoiu
Apply "simple is more" when choosing your software planning capabilities

Use planning software in your favour to support your work

Consider confidentiality and restrictive content when choosing your planning software
Professional services - Bogdan Ciocoiu
Next steps

Effective programme planning requires both desktop coordination and stakeholder engagement to take ownership of their responsibilities and drive their actions. 

Do you need help with planning a programme or a project?

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