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I found out that I always want to make plans about things, but rarely follow my plan. For example, sometimes I would publish a plan about software release, but missing the projected deadline by a lot, sometimes the release never get published.

Usually, I know beforehand that I most likely cannot follow the plan.

I thought about just using "very inaccurate plan" but that sounds weird.

I have a very inaccurate plan to implement this feature by 2022 Q1.

What is a word for such plans?

Edit: Using "My intention is to implement this feature by 2022 Q1." doesn't work when the "very inaccurate plan" is a link to a detailed roadmap.

Edit 2: Another way to say it without sounding as weird as the example did, however many words it would take, is acceptable, too.

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    The word "intention" in your edit is the clue as to the right adjective for plan to use. The word "intent" is what "tentative" is derived from. When you have a plan you intend to use, but which is subject to change as conditions change, then it is a "tentative plan". Dec 9 '21 at 14:23
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    It's a rough plan, or a loose plan. You sometimes also say an "outline" or just an "approach".
    – Fattie
    Dec 9 '21 at 16:13
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    @KurtFitzner we're on tenterhooks waiting for justification for that assertion. Dec 9 '21 at 18:13
  • I am skeptical whether a "plan" even could be inaccurate, unless we're talking about something like a building diagram ("plan") that doesn't match the actual building. Dec 9 '21 at 21:01
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    I think part of the difficulty here is that you are trying to express two things for which we do not have a single word. You have a very detailed plan describing what steps you propose to take to implement the feature, but you acknowledge that the timeline you have assigned to those steps is likely to be very wrong. I would separate the plan from the schedule: "I have a plan to implement this feature with a very tentative delivery date in 2022 Q1."
    – David K
    Dec 10 '21 at 4:20

10 Answers 10

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Inaccurate doesn't really work here, because it means something like "not matching an existing standard", and your point (I think) is that you don't have an existing standard.

You could say you have a rough plan, meaning that it is not detailed, or a loose plan, meaning that it is not intended to be adhered to strictly, or a tentative plan if you expect that it might change.

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  • Better than the currently accepted answer. Most native English speakers would use "rough" to indicate a plan not fully fleshed out, or "tentative" to indicate a plan that is subject to change or revision. Dec 9 '21 at 13:28
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    +1 for "tentative", but both "rough" and "loose" give the impression that OP didn't put as much effort into their plan as they could (or should) have, which doesn't seem to be the case from the question and not the impression they want to give. Dec 9 '21 at 16:55
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    Of these, I think tentative fits best.
    – Davislor
    Dec 9 '21 at 19:41
  • I agree. tentative is most suitable.
    – bak1936
    Dec 12 '21 at 2:04
  • Hi stangdon, I agree with @AlexandreAubrey . I do not want to give assumptions for whether the plan itself is well written, detailed, or not. Also see my reply to Kurt Fitzner in question. Therefore, I think "tentative" fits best. Changed accepted answer to this.
    – rectangle
    Dec 12 '21 at 4:55
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I would call it a "provisional plan" - a plan based on what you know at the time you're answering the question.

My understanding is that you don't know whether the plan will be accurate or not, so describing it as "very inaccurate" is likely to lead to people wondering why you didn't make it more accurate. You're right. That sounds weird.

If it's as accurate as you can make it based on current information, your plan is "provisional".

[You could also call it a "draft plan", which, like "provisional", suggests it might be subject to later revision.]

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    I'm accepting this answer. "provisional plan" sounds exactly what I need. "draft plan", however, doesn't seem fit, as it sounds more like the plan isn't complete even based on current information.
    – rectangle
    Dec 9 '21 at 12:50
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    "Provisional plan" would, however, tend to indicate a plan that is intentionally temporary until a better one is made. Dec 9 '21 at 13:35
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    @rectangle just to add, "tentative plan" would be synonymous with "Provisional plan", both would work here. Dec 9 '21 at 13:48
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    @Fattie rough or loose would imply that it isn't complete. This doesn't seem to be the case here, where OP is mostly concerned by factors coming into play later that would alter their currently complete plan. Dec 9 '21 at 16:58
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    "Preliminary" might also be a reasonable fit
    – towe
    Dec 10 '21 at 8:52
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I'm not sure if there's a single word that exactly fits there (but I'm not a native speaker) but you could simply say

My intention is to implement this feature by 2022 Q1.

The word itself already indicates it's less certain and vaguer than a plan, I don't think it needs an extra adjective.

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  • Hi, this works when it's just a intention, but when the word links to something that is more like a plan, for example a calendar, using "intention" don't work. By the way, thank you for editing my question. I did intend to write 2022 instead of 2021. You seem to have missed it in your answer, though. I'll try and see if StackExchange lets me edit your answer.
    – rectangle
    Dec 9 '21 at 7:14
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You say you know beforehand that you aren't likely to follow the plan. Using "provisional," "tentative," "loose," or "rough" implies that the plan is your best guess, but there is a lot of uncertainty. If that's the case, all of those are good choices.

If you're deliberately making a plan that is unlikely to succeed, because you're under pressure to come in under your required budget, finish sooner than you can, or use fewer resources than you need, I'd call it an implausible plan, a plan that is unlikely to be implemented, or a project that is unlikely to be executed according to plan. You might not want to actually say that to a client or employer, though. It makes it sound like you're planning to fail.

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    "implausible plan" sounds more fit for my situation. However, there doesn't seem to be much usage by the creators of the plan themselves. Why is it and am I really supposed to use it myself?
    – rectangle
    Dec 18 '21 at 23:29
  • Because if the plan is implausible, it's likely to fail. People generally don't make plans that are likely to fail, and if they do, they don't admit it. I don't know the circumstances, but if the plan is implausible, I'd suggest explaining to the product manager or your boss why you can't deliver what is being asked within the time and budget limits imposed on the project. If the plan is implausible, you should either remove requirements, increase the budget, or allow more time, and come up with a new plan that is more realistic and plausible.
    – aelwyn1964
    Dec 20 '21 at 13:51
  • Well, plans in software development fail all the time. More so for open source software because of limited budget. For my open source software, all of them ended up undelivered at the deadlines of the plans, and even now none of them are delivered... It's funny that I always thought I gave myself enough budget for each plan, but developer's self-estimation is always too ambitious... Which is why I decided to just not trust my estimation for any plan from now on and make it clear I'm probably not going to make it. I'm not sure why other developers don't admit it, though.
    – rectangle
    Dec 20 '21 at 23:32
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Vague:

I have a vague plan for to implement this feature by 2022 Q, expect a more accurate one later.

From the Merriam-Webster dictionary:

Vague (adj.):

  • not clearly expressed: stated in indefinite terms:
    vague accusations
  • not having a precise meaning:
    a vague term of abuse
  • not clearly defined, grasped, or understood:
    only a vague notion of what's needed
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I would call a plan like this optimistic. Most likely with a qualifier such a wildly or extremely.

If a plan is described as wildly optimistic, most readers would understand that the given deadlines will not be met.

The unwritten conditions of an optimistic plan might be;

If everything goes right first time, no one gets sick, all external dependencies are delivered on time, nothing unexpected happens and we make a couple of mistakes that accidentally turn out to be brilliant solutions we will deliver in Q1 of 2022.

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  • This is useful if the plan doesn't change over time. However when the plan does change, the phrasing has to be changed, too. I didn't intend to make the viewers assume if the plan would change in the future. Still, very useful in that specific case, upvoted.
    – rectangle
    Dec 18 '21 at 23:24
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Thinking about how I would say this to someone, it would probably be something like:

I have a general idea of how I’m going to implement this feature by 2022 Q1.

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You have created a tentative plan:

Tentative, from M-W:

1: not done with confidence : uncertain and hesitant

2: not definite : still able to be changed

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Particularly for software development, you could say that it's a "strawman" (would be considered jargon outside that context I think though):

A straw-man (or straw-dog) proposal is a brainstormed simple draft proposal intended to generate discussion of its disadvantages and to provoke the generation of new and better proposals. The term is considered American business jargon,[1] but it is also encountered in engineering office culture.

Often, a straw man document will be prepared by one or two people prior to kicking off a larger project. In this way, the team can jump start their discussions with a document that is likely to contain many, but not all, of the key aspects to be discussed.

Like many software practices, it comes from the US military background. The wiki page above talks about proposals going through "tougher" sounding revisions (iron man, stone man) — in practice, I've never come across that personally.

If you say you've created a 'strawman roadmap for Q1 2022', then you're implying that everything is subject to change & probably overlooking details that might change things

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sketchy plan

Merriam Webster defines sketchy as:

1 : of the nature of a sketch : roughly outlined

2 : wanting in completeness, clearness, or substance : slight, superficial the details are sketchy

3 : questionable, iffy got into a sketchy situation

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