The saying is: Necessity is the Mother of Invention.
My philosophy about, approach to, and tool-set for ISD Project Planning was borne of the necessity to insure that my team of consultants were planning and PRICING and conducting our Client/Customer project efforts to both insure that the Project Customers/Project Stakeholders were all very satisfied – and that our “project profit margin” (the differences between what we spent to jet the job done – and what we got paid) was within goals set to both carry the fixed costs of our business and generate money for raises, bonuses and other forms of recognition/rewards, etc.
So it was necessary to “get ‘er done.”
Iterative Versus Lean
I have a great deal of difficulty with those who write and speak of the necessity of looking at and practicing ISD – Instructional Systems Design – as “ITERATIVE.” Yes it can be thought of and practiced that way – but who would want to?
Who would want to live in a “planned approach” to “LIVING IN REWORK CITY” endlessly reworking what you had previously reworked. Those are the earmarks of a project out of control because it is not in enough control. Here is an earlier Blog Posting on that.
I’ve been writing and presenting professionally on this aspect of ISD since the early 1980s – here is an earlier Blog Posting on that.
Common Systems/ Processes/ Tools & Templates
So I and my staff consultants and production specialists created, over the years, a uniform system, set of processes, tools/templates and maintained a library of examples of every tools/template put to real-world use.
I was the “chief architect” for all of that. It was my vision and my need for enough control – all due to my need for enough predictability. Due to my need for enough profitability.
I needed it to be “as rigorous as required and as flexible as feasible” to better meld with my varied Client’s specific realities, their specific performance contexts.
We used standard labels and descriptions for our “service offerings.” Those were CAD, MCD and IAD, plus other non-PACT services my consulting firms (1982-2007) offered and performed.
We used standard/common Phases for each type of service rendering project. CAD has 4 Phases and MCD and IAD each share the same 6-Phase model – that makes sense once you understand the nuanced nature of IAD and MCD as project-types.
We used a common set of terms and data-gathering templates and document/report templates all across the 3 types of ISD effort of CAD and MCD and IAD. We even had standard meeting invitation letters — this all goes back much earlier than email – so later and now today someone would “cut and paste” from our invitation or confirmation or thank you for attending letter template to their email system – and would edit/personalize from there – before hitting “send.”
PPM – PACT Project Manager
Here we will focus on the Project Planning set of methodologies within PACT. So this is really for the person/team with Project Planning and Project Management responsibilities. In PACT, that is the PPM – PACT Project Manager. That is one of 5 key “roles” on the PACT “Supply-side Team” who works with a PACT “Customer-side Team” with similarly defined project roles.
Note: one person may play all 5 roles, or they may be divided up across two to 20 individuals, project size/scope depending. Based on my experiences.
Typically the PACT Processes for T&D/ Learning/ Knowledge Management projects’ efforts center around “reviewing data” and “generating data” and “reviewing data” and then repeating that cycle of effort through the Phases of the project; typically a new group takes on the next cycle before giving it back to some sort of “project management/client governance” group/individual.
So it’s the goal of the Project Planner-side of the PPM role, to plan using that cycle, and reflect it in the tasks and timing of the plan.
And they get a lot of help in that I had in “The WELL” a set of toolkit-of-templates for a CAD project and an MCD project and an IAD project, etc. – that they would simply “copy over and paste” onto their desktop (or wherever) and rename that file by our Project numbering and naming conventions. Now they had a project file ready to go.
One of the first, but certainly not the first tool in the tool kit is the CAD Project Plan. Before that came an Interview Guide and “Client Collateral” – leave behinds – marketing/communications tools.
Some of these could be edited to be more project specific, others did not need to be edited. The balance is probably that 80% of the tools in the tool kit would need purposeful editing – and that’s a good thing! To flex to the specifics of your Client’s situation and stay the course of the process to maintain enough control and predictability.
Click on any graphic to enlarge/copy/etc.
Standard Tools/Templates for Use “As Is” or “After Modification”
We had standard covers, t-o-c’s (Tables of Content) that organized all of the contents. And we had the “starter set” of content for each Project Plan template. One each for CAD, MCD and IAD.
So the template Project Plan offers a lot of boilerplate text and graphics. Some of that text needs to be edited to be specific to THIS/YOUR project – while others are germane to this project due to it being a CAD or MCD or IAD effort.
Sometimes, rarely but still a “need” of the system put into place – standard graphics within the Project Plan might need to be adjusted/adapted.
My staff would then go to “The WELL” – an online repository of all of our piece parts of content – organized in a logical scheme that everyone could soon learn to use – and they would grab the original PowerPoint source of the original graphic – and create a derivative – whatever was needed – and then turn that into a j-peg file (or whatever) and then use the new graphic in place of the old.
The WELL now contains the original and all of the derivatives – all located in the same general space in cyberspace – which means having an inventory system/menu of links of all of your combined “stuff” that is logical and sustainable/robust to future growth and evolution of both its content topics and types.
Here is an example page from “section 8” of the detailed tasks/roles/schedules for the project. Normally in a CAD project there might be 7-8 pages of these charts for the full 4-Phases of CAD.
A set of these “task/roles/schedule” charts for an MCD project might number 10-12. If your task plan is to have all of the tasks that will actually be performed (and take someones time and attention) this will help you get there.
The appendices of “lean-ISD” include: a-Tasks for a CAD Project, and b: Tasks for an MCD/IAD Project. This is the detailed list of tasks that can be edited down for a specific project effort. One needs to edit that down, reword, embellish, to reflect the specific situation and needs for this specific project.
This all leads me, in this “Overview” Posting on Project Planning, to Development Ratios.
You know, the 40:1 or 36:1 or 400:1 “ratios” that help folks “ball park” the costs for producing an instructional product in the early stages of project conception – before a detailed plan is created.
I’ve always had a skeptical view of Development Ratios – as I’m pretty sure from the conversations I’ve had with many Clients who used them – sometimes against their own better judgement – that they are inconsistent in terms of who’s effort they capture/project – who’s do they not capture, when did the meter start and stop running on counting time, and did it capture other costs beside “time” of a certain group of individuals.
So I think it is important to have a set of your own “development ration’s” that serve your purpose – but don’t compare your apples to others’ walnuts. Use your apples to serve your process needs and let others’ walnuts serve their needs – but just because they are “kinda-alike” doesn’t make any comparison meaningful.
The tool above is one that guided my data tracking efforts for many, many years for many, many projects, for many, many PPMs – PACT Project Managers doing their Project Planning and then Project Management thing.
After 25 years of tracking actuals-to-plan on almost 500 projects at my 3 consulting firms (1982-2007), I feel that I have a pretty good feel – shaped over many years – of how to think about both “touch time” and “cycle time” in projects – IF I get a good sense of the culture/style of the people that I or my staff consultants will be working with.
When in doubt – recognize that as “Murphy” and plan accordingly – meaning: add time to the task and cycle time estimates. Not to “pad” – but to “get real.”
Murphy as in: “Murphy’s Law” – as in: “if anything can go wrong it probably will” – is real. Plan accordingly!
Many other tools/templates exist in the full PACT Practitioner Toolkit. See the mention below of a wiki for PACT that is your source for such tools/templates.
Much of this, but not all, is covered in my book: lean-ISD…
Plus a complete set of tools for CAD efforts are now available for free at the…
From the PACT Wiki…
This Wiki was first published on October 26, 2007 – It is intended as a resource and resource guide for all PACT Practitioners adopting and adapting the “starter-set” of PACT concepts, models, methods, tools and techniques – as well as those of RADD = Rapid Analysis Design Development, plus the related T&D Systems View and Management Areas of Performance, and EPPI – Enterprise Process Performance Improvement.
Check here for What has yet to be initially addressed in this Wiki.The intent of this Wiki is to enable and empower PACT Practitioners globally. Additional PACT Wiki “authors” may be added over time. See the Pursuing Performance Blog for related Posts. Please attribute appropriately – even the derivatives!!!
And – while this Wiki is generally not open to anyone and everyone to author and edit – The PACT Wiki 2 is!!! Except for the Home Page which is locked – PACT Wiki 2 is for all to author/edit – to share! This entire Wiki is locked to all but the designated authors/editors.
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