Project retroplanning: How to set it up

All project management players agree on a common principle: respecting deadlines. Setting a deadline for a project based on the start date may result in penalties depending on the terms of the contract. Especially, if the deadline for finalizing the project is not respected. Retroplanning makes it possible to apply the reverse method and thus not exceed deadlines. We reveal a few ways to effectively set up a project retroplanning.    

What is the objective of a project retroplanning?

Spelled retro planning or retroplanning, this process is not a tool but rather a way of managing a project to achieve an objective. The aim is to be able to deliver a project on time as agreed. Obviously, the use of the right tools is always recommended to improve and optimize project monitoring. These tools associated with a good method of management and planning will inevitably lead to the total success of the project. On the one hand, in terms of quality and on the other hand of compliance with deadlines. The objective of the retroplanning is therefore to scrupulously respect the planned delivery times.

List and section the different parts of the project

This first step is the most important. Indeed, on this will depend all the success of the management of the project. All stakeholders throughout the project chain must understand the ins and outs. This phase therefore involves a clear and detailed enumeration of the various project execution processes.

Each task must be assigned to a specific stakeholder. In pairs, trinomials or more, all the members of the same team must know each other. Everyone must know what their specific roles are. The distribution of tasks can be presented in 5 main actions from the end to the beginning:

Task 1
To be done by: [Last name, first name] Due date: [Date] Percentage complete: 100%
Special notes:

Task 2
To be done by: [Last name, first name] Due date: [Date] Percentage complete: 75%
Special notes:

Task 3
To be done by: [Last name, first name] Due date: [Date] Percentage complete: 50%
Special notes:

Task 4
To be done by: [Last name, first name] Due date: [Date] Percentage complete: 25%
Special notes:

Task 5
To be done by: [Last name, first name] Due date: [Date] Percentage complete: 00%
Special notes:

It is also possible depending on the scope of the project to add sub-tasks to each part. The goal is for everyone to have a flawless level of understanding of the project.

Appoint group leaders for tasks

After the phase of distribution of the actions to be carried out, it will now be necessary to define their manager. It is advisable to have the same for the actions and sub-actions. If a member of the team has the ability to manage several responsibilities at the same time, then do not hesitate to trust him.

It is ultimately up to the project or production manager to define the people suitable for such responsibilities.

Correctly estimate task execution times

The evaluation of execution times is also a very important phase. Indeed, delays that are too short or underestimated can have an impact on the quality of the rendering. This step also makes it possible to evaluate the internal resources to be able to complete the project on time. Do we have the right staff at each position? Are the materials available functional and up to standard? Are the financial resources sufficient for the duration of the project? These are all questions that must be asked at this level of project retroplanning.

Above all, you have to be realistic, without overestimating your abilities to please the customer, for example. The estimate of delays can be done in years, months, weeks or days. Everything will remain at the discretion of the project manager after careful inspection of internal resources.

A few tips for better evaluating the duration of tasks

It is not necessary to start from a general idea of ​​the tasks to define an overall time. The best is to communicate with the collaborators and to know their ideas. For this, you have to ask them the time they would need to complete their missions in full.

Thus, for each position, we have a precise idea of ​​the time estimated by the person(s) concerned. It is following this consultation with all the collaborators that we can evaluate an objective delivery time.

Arrange the actions to be carried out chronologically

This part of the retro planning must be done in a clever and coordinated way. The objective is to avoid blocking the chain because a task would be too early or too late on another. Identifying interdependent actions is the first thing to do.

After having listed all the actions to be carried out from the beginning of the project to the end, another arrangement will have to be made. Tasks that can be completed starting from the end of the project will be listed first. And so on until those at the start of the project. This is the principle of reverse planning.

The PERT chart, a chronological organization solution

The PERT chart (Program Evaluation and Review Technic) is an excellent tool to have a broad view of the layout of tasks. In image a planned project with the PERT chart:

Organizing tasks with this diagram is very efficient. In the form of a network, we visualize the connections between the different levels of execution, with the allocated times and the interdependencies. With this tool, we arrive at an evaluation of the optimized deadlines for each part of the project. It allows in particular to build the Gantt chart which will be useful for the rest of the project retroplanning.

Development of the retro project schedule on a diagram

According to specialists, the Gantt chart is an essential tool for better managing a project. Depending on the organization, you can insert the closing date of the project and the different tasks. An example of retroplanning carried out on a construction project:

This diagram includes the different phases of the work. These are split into three main tasks and several sub-tasks. Namely, the Automation part, the Mechanical part and the Civil Engineering part. Then on the right, we have the deadlines in weeks for each task and sub-task.

Tips for successfully setting up a project retroplanning

It is advisable to place levels of control in the project backplanning to ensure that everything is going as planned. Ideally, checks should be carried out at each stage of the main tasks. Nor should we be pessimistic or overly optimistic throughout the development of the project. The main thing is to comply with the schedule built into the diagram.

Depending on the level of difficulty of the project, you must plan a start date in line with the planned deadline. Thereafter, make an estimate to know if it is tenable within the deadlines. It is also necessary to avoid any influence, as much of the client as of the principals to fix the dates. These deadlines must be communicated objectively according to the schedule provided.

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