Top down vs bottom up in planning

top down vs bottom up in planning
Bottom up  planning with Visilean
Bottom up planning with Visilean

Last few years, I have been closely observing the planning, scheduling and execution process on construction and software projects. While the construction industry tries to break free of the CPM (Critical Path Method) shackles to implement lean and the Last Planner System, the software industry is leaving the waterfall method behind and getting to grips with the agile development process. The bottom up planning and execution has its benefits and offers flexibility (hence the name agile) and involves people at the coal-face (hence the name Last Planner), there is still an awkward connection when it comes to the reconciliation of top-down and bottom-up planning and execution.

Top down planning without Visilean
Top down planning without Visilean

Different countries and cultures tackle this problem in a different way. For example, on projects in Europe the Master plan schedules are taken as a “guideline” at the field level. However, on Indian projects we have observed a greater “push” to reconcile the plan with the field and to maintain the task interdependencies and critical path calculations. This creates a tremendous pressure on the site teams and planners/coordinators.

However, regardless of the geographic location – all projects “feel the need” to reconcile the top-down and bottom-up plans in order to maintain a healthy control. There are many tools out there that support one approach over the other, i.e. top down OR bottom up. However, VisiLean was designed to support both the approaches simultaneously, i.e. respecting a top level Master plan and letting the field teams develop their own lookahead and weekly schedules that seamlessly integrate to provide an always accurate picture of the project. This way the teams can look forward when driving projects rather than watching in the “rear view mirror”.