startup, start-up, people
Software Delivery

Continuous Planning and Prioritization

Continuous planning and prioritization are the two key practices for delivering valuable outcomes in volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous operating environments.

To start our delivery journey, we will need to create a plan for identifying the initial scope, resources, and dependencies. We will also need to create a backlog of work items that need to be done based on what we know. However, without adapting the plan and priorities continuously over time, these become obsolete and irrelevant.

How frequently we need to adapt our plan and priorities will depend on the timing of any unpredictable events, change in external factors, and change in direction based on any feedback.

We can follow some basic strategies to maximize the delivery outcomes in such challenging circumstances:

  • Prioritizing the work items in the backlog aligned with the delivery goals.
  • Dividing the overarching goals into smaller delivery milestones and spreading them across at regular intervals.
  • Obtaining feedback from the stakeholders after delivering each milestone.
  • Allocating a budget or capacity for unpredictable and uncertain work items.
  • Identifying high-risk work items based on uncertainty and complexity.
  • Prioritizing the high-risk work items and starting working on them early.
  • When new work items emerge, re-prioritizing the whole backlog in the context of the new reality.
  • Negotiating the scope with the stakeholders based on the re-prioritized backlog.
  • Visualizing the timeline with multiple streams of work to better understand inter-dependencies and any bottleneck.
  • Celebrating small wins, progresses, and any new learning.

In summary, how well we can respond to new information and adapt our plans and priorities accordingly determines our chances of success.