Top Down and Bottom Up Planning

Create a project plan even though the task-level details are still vague. When you have specialists who work on the details, 2-plan Desktop is the perfect PM tool. It aligns your strategy with the real world conditions that your people encounter at the front line. Test its free strategic planning decomposition tools for program management and enterprise planning.

How Top Down and Bottom Up Planning Work in Real World Projects

Define the duration of each project phase upfront without listing and scheduling each task individually. This enterprise or top down planning feature is useful when the detailed aspects of the project are still unknown or when the right set of people with specialized skill sets are yet to be hired or contracted. It allows the project manager to work at the level of detail that is just right. Likewise, when project components are already known due to previous projects of a similar nature, 2-plan Desktop also allows a bottom up planning approach.

top-down bottom-up planning tools

You can add tasks as these are identified by your in-house staff, consultants or sub-contractors and assign efforts to various levels of your WBS without changing the planned duration. Check out 2-plan Desktop's work breakdown structure tool; the Graphical WBS.

You can also reserve a time buffer for your project during the planning phase. Later on, you can allocate this buffer to your tasks on a need basis instead of distributing the entire budget upfront across your deliverables. Most importantly, just drag-and-drop your project components with known details into your new projects. This way, you can focus on the work packages that have unknown details. This top down and bottom up planning capability addresses the needs of marketing and sales projects, new product design and development, software development and other projects that require cooperation and collaboration with other specialized firms.

Project Management Milestones for Top Down and Bottom Up Planning

2-plan Desktop delineates between the WBS and the project milestone. Try this more workable system and test a simpler method that lets you define the milestone’s date and shift work packages to be completed before or after the milestone.

top-down planning approach for milestones

A typical milestone in project management software is usually directly related to the WBS. Thus, when any of your team members change the time you have initially indicated for just one task, your entire schedule will change. In 2-plan Desktop, this problem is eliminated. You can define project management milestones independently from the top while letting your teams define the task details to reflect front line realities at the bottom.

Likewise, you can assign your work packages to start after or finish before the milestone date. Since the milestone date remains fixed, you can quickly drill down to see when an outstanding work package is going to cause you to miss the milestone date. Here, the Gantt chart provides a simple and clear view of the milestones which are shown separately from work packages. This charting technique simplifies your work. You'll know when to outsource, when to call overtime, or when to scale up or scale down your human and material resources to meet your fixed deadlines.

Plan by Phases and Simplify Your Iterative Planning

Manually select the start and end dates for each work package that will remain fixed throughout the project unless you intentionally change it. The interactive Gantt chart displays the calculated effort of each work package against the fixed planned date and allows drag-and-drop so you can quickly adjust the schedule.

top down planning using iteration

Other project management tools tend to complicate this when these require you to enter constraints on each milestone, such as the earliest start-date to schedule time between normally unpredictable events.

With top down planning, you'll maintain full control over the start and end date at the work package level but can still adapt to real world events as these happen.

Time Scheduling and Task Management

One common mistake when project managers create a project plan is to focus on the task-level detail and plan up without getting the inputs of the project team members. This style often requires micromanagement of an unrealistic and cumbersome plan because real world situations will normally change the ideally planned task details. The project plan is essentially dynamic and requires frequent updates from all members of the team.

top down vs bottom up planning

In this light, 2-plan Desktop allows you to manage at an executive level. You can limit the WBS to deliverables and define timelines for work packages without the task details.

2-plan also offers an open source collaboration tool that allows you to transfer one or more work packages from your project plan to your teams so they can define the tasks that they are more knowledgeable about and report status on their progress or bottlenecks. Both PM tools can communicate directly which eliminates manual import/export routines.