An iterative planning technique, a form of progressive elaboration, in which the work to be accomplished in the near term is planned in detail, while the work in the future is planned at a higher level
This method is typically used for projects with a high degree of uncertainty, such as projects with a long duration or projects that involve a lot of unknowns.
An example of a rolling wave plan would be a construction project for a new building. At the beginning of the project, the overall plan would be relatively high-level, with a general outline of the project’s objectives and a rough timeline for completion. As the project progresses, the plan would become more detailed, with specific tasks, resource requirements, and timelines being added as more information becomes available.
In the beginning of the project, the team would have a high-level plan that outlines the overall scope of the project, the major milestones, and the general timeline. As the project progresses, the team will add more detailed information to the plan, such as specific tasks that need to be completed, the resources required to complete them, and the timelines for each task. This allows the team to be more responsive to changes and uncertainties that may arise during the project.
The idea is work can exist at various levels of detail depending on where it is in the project life cycle.
Benefits of Rolling wave planning
- By making it possible for productive activities to begin without waiting for every detail of the project work to be determined in advance
- By eliminating downtime for additional planning in the middle of a project since planning is done continuously
It’s important to note that while rolling wave planning can be used in a predictive project life cycle, it is less common than in other methodologies such as Agile and Hybrid, as the predictive methodology is based on having a detailed plan before starting the execution phase.