The concept of team-driven project management leads to the process of RAP sessions. In the early 1980s, AT&T experimented with a technique for systems analysis and design that it termed FAST. This technique involved the analysis and design of information systems using key clients and expert systems analysts. By "brainstorming" in an intensive team session (usually less than five days), the process of systems analysis and design could be dramatically shortened with improved quality.
In IT, the FAST technique is now more widely recognized as joint requirements planning (JRP) and joint applications design (JAD). These team-driven techniques, coupled with the use of applications generators and integrated computer-aided software engineering (ICASE) tools, are termed rapid application development. A very good description of this development approach can be found in Chris Meyers' (1993) Fast Cycle Development and Steve McConnell's (1996) excellent Rapid Development .
A similar technique has been applied for a new approach to strategic planning developed by Jacobs and others (1994) in which many people are involved in developing "bottom-up" strategic plans using participative processes. Like our group , Jacobs found higher levels of buy-in and more achievable plans.
A similar concept can be applied to the planning and managing of projects. You must identify key stakeholders in your project and invite them to a RAP session. Using the project planning steps introduced later in this chapter and covered in more detail throughout the book, you plan the project in an intensive and participative process with the project stakeholders. Guidelines for conducting a RAP session are covered in Part 2.
Experience with more than 500 major projects has indicated that the RAP session approach reduces the time for project plans to be produced, increases the accuracy of the plan, and ensures that all key stakeholders and service providers are consulted and involved prior to "lock in" of the plan. Using traditional project management approaches, for a small project that involves 10 key stakeholders who must review the plan, the review and approval of a project plan could take one elapsed month (allowing only for minimum rework of the plan). A RAP session for a similar project would be complete in one or two days!
In summary, project planning should not be done by one person, should actively involve stakeholders, and should not plan beyond what is predictable.