The Art of the Plan: Requirements, Models, and Probability Management

The Art of the Plan: Requirements, Models, and Probability Management

by John Marc Thibault


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The Art of the Plan is a guide for analysts, planners, schedulers - anyone who needs to prepare non-trivial project plans. This book takes you through the process of preparing a realistic project plan, from crystal-clear requirements to attainable targets.

The book presents techniques for getting a clear understanding of the objective so that "no one can possibly misunderstand what's to be achieved", a clear understanding of the factors that can affect the success of the project, and a clear understanding of how to deal with the factors and achieve the objective - what to do, how, when, and for how much.

It covers designing models, simulating varied project trajectories with Excel, and using interaction with the models to help decision makers understand the available options and the consequences of their decisions.

The Art of the Plan introduces Probability Management - powerful techniques for modeling projects while managing risk and uncertainty.

Conventional estimation methods suffer from The Flaw of Averages - intrinsic errors caused by calculating with averages or expected values in ways that produce invalid, misleading, and systematically optimistic results.

The book shows you how to correct the problem. It shows how to quantify uncertainty and how to work with probability distributions instead of single numbers. It shows how to help stakeholders make choices about risk and project targets, informed by the odds of achieving those targets.

The book makes heavy use of examples. A companion Excel workbook loaded with the models used in the book is available from the author's web site. The workbook includes SDXL - the author's free and open source Excel add-in for modeling and simulation with sample distributions.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781479128327
Publisher: CreateSpace Publishing
Publication date: 09/12/2012
Pages: 122
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.26(d)

About the Author

John Marc Thibault is an independent consultant with a twenty-year practice focused on technical analysis, design and planning. His clients have included a large fraction of the Canadian federal government's departments and a variety of high-tech companies.

His earlier experience includes over a decade of marketing and technology roles at Xerox, and senior management in two high-tech startups. He has a physics degree from Loyola College in Montreal.

Author of the 'Art of the Plan' blog at, he's developing software and operational techniques to fix the Flaw of Averages in project planning, and to correct the systemic errors that result in high-risk plans and unattainable targets.

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