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Paul DeLong

Customer Success Manager

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How to Implement Rolling Wave Planning

Paul DeLong- 09/19/19 12:00 PM

A couple of weeks ago we discussed Rolling Wave Planning, what it is, and what the benefits are. This week we are going to discuss how to implement it and share a training video about implementation...

Rolling Wave Planning

As a reminder, Rolling Wave Planning is a strategic planning activity that takes place every week or two, depending on the phase of the project and how fast things are changing. Some of the benefits of Rolling Wave Planning include:

  • Ensuring you have identified the critical details in the upcoming work
  • Ensuring that team members are well-informed about the near-term
  • Creating buy-in and accountability
  • Allowing the team to course correct as new information arrives and new risks are identified
  • Making the long-term plan more manageable


Implementing Rolling Wave Planning

Implementing Rolling Wave Planning is simple with the right preparation and a tight agenda that keeps everyone on track. In brief, the process involves the following two activities.

  1. Summary Task Owners update their portion of the plan
  2. Holding the planning meeting

Updating the plan

When updating the plan in preparation for the meeting, the Summary Task Owners work to ensure that:

  1. The tasks are still valid
  2. New risks are identified, and mitigations are planned (or at a minimum a risk owner is assigned)
  3. Unassigned tasks are assigned to the appropriate team member
  4. Resource loading is realistic

This process for Summary Task Owners should take about 30 minutes per week.

Rolling Wave Planning Meeting Agenda

In the Rolling Wave Planning Meeting we are primarily focused on the following

  • Is the near-term plan accurate and in adequate detail?
  • The health of the project timeline
  • Managing resource overloads


What not to do during a Rolling Wave Planning meeting

During the meeting, it's important to focus on near-term planning and take more in-depth discussions offline such as:

  • What happened more than two weeks in the past
  • What is happening more than eight weeks or so in the future
  • In-depth technical discussions


Watch this training video to learn more about how to implement Rolling Wave Planning effectively at your organization.

Watch Video


Related links

What is Rolling Wave Planning
Lean Project Management
Benefits of Lean Project Management