Drafting a valid basis for all work is often called “The Art of Planning” because it is like creating a piece of art. There are many books, articles and blogs that deal with this topic. The planning in an LSP is certainly a challenge and requires a meticulous approach. The following chapters show the planning on each level as well as all relations between them. Particularly the last topic is crucial for any success because it takes the dependencies coming from the respective level into account.
Applying the LPLM© enables the project management to distinguish clearly between different requirements for a plan. The planning process tailors all outcomes to a certain view for each level. For example, the schedule on the strategical level should show how a project fits into a program or the portfolio of an organization. Planning on several level reduces the uncertainties by giving a straightforward way of working. A step-by-step process covers all relations between the levels. This defines ideally all dependencies that may occur during the planning process.
The major advantages of having plans on all levels are:
- Plans on each level address only the necessary information.
- The message of the plan is tailored to a specific audience.
- This reduces the amount of detailed information for each group of stakeholders.
- Dependencies between several levels are easy to understand and manage.
- All level may draft their plans step-by-step and then aligned together.
Project frameworks refer to several plans as a solid basis for a project. Taking the diverse needs for each level into account the respective plans start at different points and show only certain information which belong to a level. For example, a risk plan shows tailored information on each level that cover the special needs there.
Many projects see planning only as a time management task, but it includes all other management areas as shown below. The table shows the plans that should be prepared as well as the dependencies on all level and their features:
|Time||Portfolio view||Connection between levels||Detailed to work packages|
|Scope||Portfolio view||Details for all streams||Details of deliverables|
|Cost||Overview in relation to the business case||Overall costs of the project||Stream specific|
|Risk||Business impacts||Aggregated view of all streams||Detailed risks|
|Resources||Resource Allocation||Resource Assignment||Resource Management|
|Procurement||General decisions and costs||Management and costs||Mostly informative|
The above described classification shows a general view and may differ depending on the project. The respective chapter describes the details and gives and overview about ways of drafting each plan.
Applying the three level requires a clearly defined process how to achieve and keep a valid plan. There are three different approaches to achieve a valid plan:
1. Down Flow Planning Approach
The strategical level defines given frame for the project. This may be the timeline, budget, or resources. Each of these inputs triggers a specific approach in the project planning and execution.
2. Up Flow Planning Approach
The operational level defines the parameters for planning the project because it fully depends on the work packages and its execution. In this case, timeline and budget may be defined during the planning stage of the project and finally approved in the strategical level.
3. Cycle Flow Planning Approach
Most likely, the planning phase will be iterative and follows a cycle. It means the strategical and the operational level as well as work on the input coming from the other level and define step by step the outcome. The tactical level has the responsibility to keep all involved parties together and balance all inputs.
Strategic project plans show the organization’s overall goals. They usually supply a view for the upper management and cover the long-term strategy related to the project and a related project portfolio or program. Additionally, these plans serve as a framework for the tactical plan and therefore give the basis for all planning on operational levels. All strategic plans may serve for these purposes:
- Keep an overview of business-related activities.
- Define start and end of the project.
- Show major milestones that may influence the business.
- Clarify dependencies between major topics inside the project and their relation to the Strategical Level.
- Show external stakeholder the approach of the project and get their buy-in.
Tactical plans serve as link between the demands of the strategical level and the potential solutions of the operational level. The tactical level is therefore responsible to connect both sides to find the best solution for the project. This requires acting in a political way which uses best practices for project management. Additionally, these plans are mostly more comprehensive than the ones on the other levels because they must show many connections and dependencies between all knowledge areas. All tactical plans may serve for these purposes:
- Determine all dependencies between the knowledge areas.
- Create contingencies for resources, time, cost, and procurement items.
- Take all risks from the other level into account.
- Define all responsibilities and the respective roles.
- Serve as link between strategical and operational level.
- Establish a system that triggers all plan changes coming from the other levels.
Operational plans focus on specific tasks, processes, and deliverables. They supply a detailed view on the work packages for all resources in a project. These plans serve as direct input to the tactical plan in terms of dependencies and effort. Most of these plans are subject to regular changes which must be carefully observed and reported to the tactical level whenever they have any influence on the overall plans. All operational plans may serve for these purposes:
- Show all detailed work packages.
- Assign resources to these tasks.
- Define detailed features of all deliverables.
- Clarify dependencies between all work packages.
- Supply a comprehensive view on external deliverables to the project.