Planning A Short Task 101 – The POAD

The following article is useful for the management, operations, or technical newbie who is just trying to launch their cool idea or get a new task going. Usually, they are not sure how to propose the project and tend to capture information in a project proposal template like this. If you are a senior individual in project planning, the only reason you are here is to get a quick explanation for your newbie to say “Cool, Newbie, I like your idea. Here, read this, and give me your Purpose, Objectives, Activities, and Deliverables (POAD) in 1 hour, and let’s see what we can knock out in two weeks.”

Do you ever have a great idea, jump into doing it, then think of more cool ideas, and get slightly off track from the first idea? Then time flies by, and your deadline for the original idea is tomorrow, and you’re way behind. Well, this describes 75% of IT Projects that failed to meet all their objectives. This is an often-cited statistic over the last 20-30 years, so it must be true (see the last bullet in this article). The point is, given IT is so easy to just add things here and there, it is pretty obvious that you’ll go over scope most times.

So What?

Most staff get excited to start a new project, and they usually only think about their biased dimension. An operations staffer will think a lot about inefficiencies that ruin their day. Consequently, they may not think of the project costs, time, and risks. A management-type will be well organized but struggle with the technical level of effort to get it done. And the technical person almost always thinks of the system scope very well, but skips the end benefits to the customer at the end of the day. Then, because that is usually more time-consuming, the technical person goes over the scope.

To overcome all this, Project Management Methodologies were developed. However, they mostly were for large projects – waterfall, iterative, agile. PM Methods have been around in any capital improvement for thousands of years. For larger – enterprises, segments, and programs – there were methods too. For instance, at Xentity, we support the Methodology for Business Transformation (MBT) which has been converted into the US OMB Federal Segment Architecture Methodology.

But For Small 2-Week, One-Time Projects, All This Would Be Overkill

The premises behind MBT – the line of sight is still applicable.

  • Who are you doing this for?
  • What do they say needs addressed?
  • Also, what is the Goal?
  • Furthermore, what is the end solution?
  • What are the steps?
  • What do you need to get done?
  • And what does it cost?

And yes, even the entire Agile framework is too heavy for a one-time quick project. Agile is a series of concepts. It is usually implemented with a tool, and lots of tracking metrics, but you can right-size Agile as well.

Using Agile Terms to POAD

After the brainstorming, we ask the task lead to capture in 1 hour the purpose, objectives, activities, and deliverables (POAD) using our POAD skeleton 1-pager template. This simply takes the brainstorming and makes sure we have covered the bases for the project proposal. We take a 1-hour planning task to propose a project or one-time task over a week. This can be captured in a Word or Google Doc; an Excel or Gsheet; or even a small Trello Task Board.

Take an Epic (Purpose), break it into user stories (Objectives), figure out tasks for the story (Activities), and agree to the sprint outcome (Deliverables). Put those four words together, and you get the acronym called POAD. Using a POAD, in 1 hour, without learning a whole new jargon, you can use what most people know in making a project proposal.

This is just a lightweight way to avoid that “Hey this will be cool, we can crush it in two weeks, but turns out, you didn’t think of X, Y, and Z” problem. Of course, it is all risk-based, so if you believe you have minimized the risk, or have very little impact if you are late or over costs or under-quality, etc., then skip it, and just jump on in.

What Makes Up The POAD – Purpose, Objectives, Activities, Deliverables Purpose

Make a statement that addresses scope, time, qualities, and cost

  • Scope – what is the end product of the project through what 3-4 major value chain steps
  • Time – how long the project is, calendar time
  • Qualities – what the customer outcomes (effectivity) and/or business outcomes (efficiencies) are
  • Cost – what resources are used (people, purchases)


Mention the 3-4 value chain steps on how you’ll achieve your purpose. Capture the measures for each of the qualities by each value chain step, communicating if you are achieving in an iterative, waterfall, or agile manner – or waterfall agile. Example Steps in a value chain are (Aware, Familiar, Consider, Purchase; Acquire, Produce, Generate, Deliver; Find, Get, Use; Extract, Transform, Load; Model, View, Control)


Whether agile or waterfall, organize your tasks by Discover, Define, Design, Develop/Do, and Debrief steps, noting the Level of effort in time.


Make sure you have deliverables that address the scope of each activity and address the full stack of possible deliverables – Performance, Process, Data, Application, Technology, Management, and Security. For each deliverable, note the calendar days from the start take the activity time multiply it by three, and then add any immovable time gaps (i.e. vacation, other projects, events). Why Multiply by three? Well, we normally multiply by two because we follow the theory that most people estimate the “do” part, and not the “prepare” and “accept” parts. These steps add up to 50% each of the effort, then add another one for weekends and sick time.

Go For It – Final Tips

  • Below is a template. Once you have conducted your brainstorming session, copy it to keep it to one page. Start with 1 hour, then review with your task lead.
  • Use the timebox of 1 hour to keep the scope, project goals, and time spent on it humble. Otherwise, the scope creep monster will get you like the other 75%.
  • The skeleton will help you see your normal predilections and biased weaknesses from your brainstorm, but saying out loud to others will help even more.
  • During the review, edit it and promise yourselves to keep to less than 2 pages and less than 1 hour review.

Project Proposal POAD Template (Project Size: Very Small)

Purpose (Nor more than 2-3 sentences)

In X weeks, using W staff, we’ll deliver Y which makes customer more effective by Z and business more efficient by Q

Objectives (No more than 5)

Value Chain StepQuality Measures (SMART criteria)
Step 1 – (Phase 1)


o    Measure – Effective

o    Measure – Efficient

Step 2 – (Phase 1)


o    Measure – Effective

o    Measure – Efficient

Step 3 – (Phase 1)


o    Measure – Effective

o    Measure – Efficient


Project StepsTask (Level of Effort)


Discover Solution

Triage Open Issues/Risks



Document Rules

Examine Data Source

Determine Processes



Setup Templates

Validate Configuration

Do Test

DoSetup Environment

Develop Solution

Load Data

Quality Assurance


DebriefCapture Backlog

Plan next Iteration


CategoryDeliverable [Days for Start]


Target Measures




Data Models

Source Data Ready

Target Data Loaded

ApplicationTemplate Configured

Code Written

TechnicalEnvironment Tested Environment Setup

Licenses Procured

ManagementDesign Document

Test Accepted

Rollout Successful

SecurityUsers Setup

Environment Secured