Frequent Questions - Systematic Planning
- What is systematic planning?
- Why systematically plan projects?
- What are the elements of systematic planning?
- Do I need to systematically plan my projects?
- How do I systematically plan my projects?
- What are some examples of systematic planning
- How do I document my systematic planning?
What is systematic planning? Systematic planning is simply using a methodical, or ordered, approach to planning. EPA uses systematic planning to plan projects and link goals, cost and schedule, and quality criteria with the final outputs.
Why systematically plan projects? Systematic planning ensures that all participants understand the needs and expectations of the customer and the product or results to be provided by the supplier. It also results in a project's logical development, efficient use of resources, transparency of intent and direction, defensibility of project results, and appropriate documentation. Of course, planning a project before resources are expended reduces waste and rework.
What are the elements of systematic planning? EPA's elements of systematic planning are stated in Chapter 3 of the EPA Quality Manual for Environmental Programs and include:
- Identification and involvement of the project manager, sponsoring organization and responsible official, project personnel, stakeholders, scientific experts, etc. (e.g., all customers and suppliers);
- Description of the project goal, objectives, and questions and issues to be addressed;
- Identification of project schedule, resources (including budget), milestones, and any applicable requirements (e.g., regulatory requirements, contractual requirements);
- Identification of the type of data needed and how the data will be used to support the project's objectives;
- Determination of the quantity of data needed and specification of performance criteria for measuring quality;
- Description of how, when, and where the data will be obtained (including existing data) and identification of any constraints on data collection;
- Specification of needed QA and QC activities to assess the quality performance criteria (e.g., QC samples for both the field and laboratory, audits, technical assessments, performance evaluations, etc.); and
- Description of how the acquired data will be analyzed (either in the field or the laboratory), evaluated (i.e., QA review, validation, verification), and assessed against its intended use and the quality performance criteria.
See Elements of Systematic Planning for more information.
Do I need to systematically plan my projects? It is EPA policy,
per CIO 2105.0 (PDF
12pp, 94K About
PDF), that all
EPA organizations use a systematic planning process to develop acceptance
or performance criteria for the collection, evaluation, or use of environmental
data or information.
How do I systematically plan my projects? Your organization's Quality Management Plan may specify a process for you to use. Program-specific guidance may also be available to help you (for example, the Multi-Agency Radiation Survey and Site Investigation Manual, www.epa.gov/radiation/marssim/) provides information on planning, conducting, evaluating, and documenting environmental radiological surveys of surface soil and building surfaces for demonstrating compliance with regulations.) Also, some regulations specify many of the elements that would need to be planned, so review applicable regulations carefully. Finally, if no resource exists, use the elements defined in Elements of Systematic Planning.
What are some examples of systematic planning processes? The scientific method and the observational method are both examples of systematic planning processes. Processes have been created for specific applications include:
- The Data Quality Objectives (DQO) Process - EPA's recommended systematic
planning tool. For resources on the Data Quality Process, see Systematic
Planning - Examples.
- The Triad Approach (www.triadcentral.org/) - EPA's planning process for the Agency's hazardous waste remediation programs.
How do I document my systematic planning? The results of systematic planning are documented in a QA Project Plan or an equivalent document. All elements should be documented, but the extent of documentation should be based on the project needs and objectives. Consult your organization's Quality Management Plan for documentation specifics.