Difference between Progressive Elaboration and Rolling Wave Planning

Progressive elaboration is trait OR characteristics of a project. On many projects initially when you sit to plan for the whole project then you find that you don’t have sufficient detail to plan in greater detail for many section of the project. With the time more and more details are available related to the same section of the project which enables you to plan in greater detail. In other words with each successive iteration of the planning process, the project plan becomes more elaborate and more complete and this approach of planning is called Progressive Elaboration.


Rolling Wave planning is a form of Progressive elaboration planning.  In this technique project team plans for the near future as detailed as possible, while the work far in the future remains planned on a high level.

For example:

  • You decided to take the PMP certification. The ultimate goal.
  • You don’t know much about it but you have goal to pass it. You planned only for the training and exam date.

Later you attended the training and got all the information about your PMP project and then you planned your study, like which book you will use as reference and when you will study and when not etc.




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