Common Planning Problems

Heuristics

Situational Awareness
A lack or loss of situational awareness is a significant problem facing planning teams. Without situational awareness, operators are blind to dangers and may not have a significant amount of time to respond appropriately. Situational awareness can be lost for several different reasons including cognitive and environmental factors.

Decision-Making
Operators generally use naturalistic decision making when assessing situations and possible outcomes. This means that decisions are made relying heavily on previous experiences and their outcomes rather than comparisons of multiple options. Innate human biases can significantly impact how options are evaluated, especially in high stress environments.

Poor Communication
Commander to Planner
If the head of the planning team does not adequately express the goals and intended outcome of the mission/task, the planning team will fumble. Plans will not align with the intended goals/purpose and have to be fixed.

Planner to Planner
If planners don’t communicate or agree on the goals of a mission, it can lead to misunderstandings and unproductive work.

Understaffing
If there are not enough planners are on the planning team, the work environment can become overwhelming and planning will suffer. The number of CoAs and associated risks may be limited if only a handful of people are tasked with development.

Missed Resources/Assets
If incorrect or incomplete data is obtained during the planning process, resources and force assets could be misallocated, making the plan invalid. Having current data, and the ability to reach back to local organizations will give planners a better awareness.

Incorrect Validity Test
Valid CoA testing is required to do COA comparison and selection. Invalid outcomes may lead to wrong plan selection.

Disagreement during Collaboration
Disagreements during CoA development should be resolved as quickly as possible to reduce planning stress and errors.

Associated Risks
Risks must be properly assessed and mitigated to ensure plan execution.

Stressed/Rushed Planning
The extreme stress the planning team endures during emergency situations should not be overlooked. Many human factors (i.e., stress & fatigue) can impact the effectiveness of CoA development.

Misinterpretations of Enemy Resources
Inaccurate analysis of enemy assets and resources could lead to detrimental outcomes for plan execution. Operators having low situational awareness will be forced to make quick, unrehearsed decisions to counter the adversaries.

Poor Training on Planning Environment Interface
Inadequate training on the planning interface leads to confused users and high workload. If your planning team is focused on learning the system and its capabilities, they will not be able to focus on producing optimal CoAs.

Capabilities

Different Scenario Selection
There are various different planning scenarios, all requiring different capabilities. By allowing users to select which type of plan they need, the correct resources and tools can be provided in the interface. This will decrease clutter and lessen the cognitive load on the operators.

Crisis Planning
Crisis planning accounts for plans meant to respond to a threat or act of imminent danger.

Passive Planning
Passive planning addresses the plan to move through an area undisrupted.

Mission Planning
Mission planning is used mostly to plan various military operations.

Movement Scheduling
Time Sensitive
Certain actions or resources require immediate or delayed execution. Providing a timeline capability that allows operators to schedule events enables actions to be planned in advance. Planning events in advance also provides operators the ability to observe a simulation of events.

Coordination
Some missions may require actions to be taken together. By providing a scheduling capability, operators can schedule as many events as needed to occur simultaneously. This capability also enables events to be categorized as reoccurring (every hour, day, week, etc.).

User Settings
Permissions
Allow administrators to give users/groups permissions to read, edit, draw, etc. while developing CoAs.

Restrictions
Give administrators a way to restrict certain users from performing specific actions while viewing plans.

Different Orders
Different orders signify the start of different stages of planning. Integrating a progress bar into the interface that shows completed stages provides situational awareness of planning progress.

Enemy CoAs & Capabilities
Factors that will impact CoAs and friendly capabilities
Multiple data sources/intelligence should be integrated into an interface to give the best picture of adversary capabilities, resources, and their CoAs. Predicted enemy movements along with their base locations should be highlighted on the map when developing force COAs to counter enemy plans.