It is the beginning of a new project. You have that butterfly feeling at the pit of your stomach – a combination of excitement, anticipation and terror. How are you going to make this work?
You take several deep breaths and remember that this is the same sensation you feel at the start of every project. You know nothing at the beginning of the project. By the process of progressive elaboration, you move from the complete unknown to a successful, completed project.
Progressive elaboration, is defined by PMBOK*as
“continuously improving and detailing a plan as more detailed and specific information and more accurate estimates become available as the project progresses, and thereby producing more accurate and complete plans that result from the successive iterations of the planning process”.
In other words, we use the best practices of project management to uncover the requirements, plan a project that meets those requirements and do regular realignment as information is clarified or changed. We will never know everything about a project at the beginning and yet we must start working towards the final outcomes. We build iteration and flexibility into the project plan to accommodate the changes and refinements that we know will occur.
Once the baseline documents are reviewed and approved, we use change management to update our project plan.
Project Management Institute (2008). A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK guide), Newtown Square, PA: Project Management Institute, Inc.
Definition of a Project 3: Progressive Elaboration
** “PMI”, “PMBOK”, “CAPM” and “PMP” are registered marks of the Project Management Institute, Inc.