A project may be defined as "an individual or collaborative enterprise that is carefully planned and designed to achieve a particular aim". Management is the art of getting things done from people working together to achieve the desired goals and objectives effectively and efficiently. Hence, Project Management is the art and science of organizing the different modules of a project.
Scenario Planning is a discipline for rediscovering the original entrepreneurial power of creative foresight in contexts of accelerated change, greater complexity, and genuine uncertainty. Moreover, Scenario planning, or scenario thinking provides a strategic planning tools that help in making clear and flexible views of the future. Scenario Planning can be used to consider potential issues and situations in a context that provides the luxury of careful thought and iterative planning rather than 'firefighting' at the point at which a weakness unexpectedly makes itself known. A scenario can be thought of as a path through the system and can be represented by use cases or collections of user stories. Most of the scenarios for a system are written at the start of the project to help scope the work and identify the most important features or services of the system to be developed.
Scenarios are user and product, not technology focused. They are written in the language of the user and can be as short as a couple of sentences or as long as a few pages. Each scenario must stand on its own. Scenarios can be written as a collection of steps that the user performs when interacting with the system and the resulting services that the system performs for the user. When writing scenarios, the prerequisites for a given scenario should be spelled out ahead of time.
Scenario planning is not about predicting the future. Rather, it attempts to describe the possible alternatives. The result of scenario planning is a group of distinct alternatives and options, which are plausible.
Scenario planning is a technique which analysts and strategists use to deal with major, uncertain shifts in a company's environment. Scenario planning is particularly useful in emerging markets or when existing markets are going through rapid changes and disruption. It is during those times that information is limited and is hard to predict what might happen in the future. In such cases, traditional forecasting techniques often fail to predict significant changes going on in the external environment. Consequently, important opportunities and serious threats may be overlooked and the very survival of the firm may be at stake.
Scenario planning works by understanding the nature and impact of the most uncertain and important driving forces affecting the company's future. It is a group process which encourages knowledge exchange and development of mutual deeper understanding of central issues important to the future of the business.
One of the advantages of using scenario planning is that it forces people out of their typical view of the market and therefore can expose blind spots that might have been overlooked in the current long range strategic plans. Moreover, as the future unfolds, it is better to recognize a scenario in its early stages as it happens, rather than being late.
Scenario planning is a creative process. The objective of scenario planning is to create a number of possible alternatives and analyze how the enterprise would fare under each of them. It is generally used to assess the risk associated with a key decision being considered.
The key steps involved in scenario planning process are as follows: -
- The first step in scenario planning process is to state the main issue or decision the enterprise is facing. This will help the process to be focused and prevent in making infinite alternatives.
- The next step is to identify the factors that will define the success or failure of the decision under consideration. This includes the assumptions that provide the logic for this decision.
- Identify the driving forces in the macro-environment that drive the key factors. Separate those forces that are highly predictable or predetermined (i.e. demographics) from those which are uncertain (i.e. public opinion). Plausible plot development requires knowing what is inevitable and what is uncertain and open to choice.
- After identifying the key factors, the next step is to identify the key factors and forces that are most important and most uncertain. The ranking is based on the degree of importance for the success of the decision under consideration and the degree of uncertainty surrounding these factors and forces.
- To develop possible scenarios that could impact the decision. This is the most creative and important step in the process. The object is to develop a range of possible scenarios whose differences has an impact on the decision under consideration.
- The next step is to examine how the decision looks in each scenario. If it is good in all scenarios it is a low risk decision but if it looks good in some but not in others it presents a higher risk. This simulation exercise requires a suspension of belief to recognize that any of these scenarios could happen. This is necessary to enable an unbiased evaluation of the decision in each of these possible futures.
- The final step in scenario planning process is to select indicators and signposts for each scenario. This step is an important product of the scenario planning process because it forces the recognition that the future is not fixed and that many different scenarios are possible. It creates heightened sensitivity to the events shaping the institution's future and how to deal with them.
Scenario planning, or scenario thinking, is a strategic planning tool used to make flexible long-term plans. Some tips for successful scenarios in scenario planning are as follows:
- Stay focused
- Keep it simple
- Keep it interactive
- Plan to plan and follow enough time
- Don't settle for simple, high, medium or low
- Avoid probabilities
- Avoid drafting too many scenarios
- Invent catchy names for scenarios
- Make the decision makers own scenarios
- Budget sufficient resources for communicating the scenarios.
Scenario thinking explores the future in a way that provides not only plausible and consistent but also qualitatively different views of the future. Scenarios allow default assumptions to be surfaced and discussed. As an example, the discussion over business plans at D2D is as follows: -
D2D was ICL's manufacturing division. The management team of D2D had produced a %uFB01ve-year strategic plan, and headquarters reviewed it with them as a basis for a prospectus for spinning D2D out as an independent company or as part of a contract manufacturing company. ICL had developed two scenarios for the future of the information industries. Coral Reef was a colorful IT world, with many small companies, a hectic pace of development, and consumer and business customers interested in the latest products. Deep Sea was a world in which a few large suppliers dominated their own territory for both consumer electronics and business computing, and customers preferred dealing with these established suppliers because they were big enough to sue.
When the management team was introduced to the scenarios, they recognized that their strategic plan had assumed that the world was a Coral Reef world, but that their competitive advantages-for instance European quality awards and staff policies-were aligned to the Deep Sea scenario. This meant that the part of their assumed future growth relating to consumer electronics was too optimistic. The team rethought their strategy and plan, focusing on their competitive strengths. The business was successfully sold to Celestica, to provide the European contract manufacturing facility to add to those in China and Canada.
A good set of scenarios are plausible in that they can be ''imagined'' in terms of current, visible, events or trends that might cause them to happen; the set should not only include a visionary (or normative) scenario, but also some scenarios that challenge the organization. Scenario planning is the art of using scenarios for decision-making. Scenario planning can thus be an effective way for marketers to try to deal with the ever more complex challenges they face in a fast-moving environment.