Project Management Institute

Manage innovation programs with a rolling wave

Development projects are those which typically have high uncertainty, involve an inherently iterative design process, and are 'inventive' in nature.By contrast, deployment projects involve little design work, are linear in nature, and focus on the deployment into the operations environment.The article describes the rolling wave program management technique, which is best suited for development projects.Summarized as a phased, 'plan a little, do a little' approach, the six steps of rolling wave project management are described: 1) applying an integration strategy; 2) performing top-down planning using the work breakdown structure (WBS); 3) performing the first planning iteration; 4) setting the time, cost, and scope baselines; 5) executing the planned work in 'time buckets' (or planning horizons); and 6) iterating through the planning horizons and closing the project.
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