Planning is the key, the plan is not so important
Janet Gregory

Awesome! you are about to start a new project

Step One

The planning phase ensures you get off on the right foot. Try to make sure you include all the departments that will be impacted by the project, include project managers, developers, operations, security, and key stakeholders.

Questions to ask yourself

  • How does this project fit with your company’s mission and goals?
  • Do you have the people and tools?
  • How does this project fit with your other tasks?
  • How much is it going to cost?

The output of this phase is the Scope Of Work (SoW). Think of it as the “What”, “Why” and “How” of the project.

The five elements of a successful SoW

  1. Explicit Detail - If it’s not included it won’t get done. It’s also useful to be explicit about what isn’t in scope especially if you are working in an agile environment.
  2. Visualization - Use pictures and examples where ever possible.
  3. Definition of Terms - Even if you are not using external suppliers, make sure you document your DSL1 and TLAs2. There should be no room for doubt what anything means.
  4. Time to Reflect - A SoW a plan; and, at best, plans are just educated guesses. Make sure you include time in your plan for reviews, pivots and changes in priority.
  5. Definition of Success - What does success look like? If it’s not clear, how will you know?

But we do agile…

You may be asking how does so much up front work fit within an agile framework. Try dividing the work into iterative phases, earlier phases will be more detailed than later ones. However each will be re-assessed and adapted as the project progresses and you hit your milestones.

You did include Time to Reflect didn’t you?


No plan survives first contact with the enemy ...
Helmuth von Moltke the Elder Militarische Werke. vol. 2
  • Keep it brief
  • Be explicit
  • Plan early and reflect
  • Get help from domain experts

  1. Domain Specific Language, ↩︎

  2. Three Letter Acronym ↩︎


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