In project management, top-down planning gives senior management control of the decision making process. Top-level managers are often reluctant to accept advice or guidance from lower level employees. Therefore, upper management should be specific with their expectations if they want those who aren’t part of the planning process to follow the plan. Often this type of planning, which can invoke fear or rely on incentives, creates problems with motivation and moral.
Some critics might hold that using top down planning in project management is not taking full advantage of talented employees who could have much to offer the project. On the other hand, top down planning allows for the division of a project into steps which can be studied and tasks properly assigned.
With bottom-up planning, a greater number of employees are involved, each with a specialized area of expertise. Team members work together and and take their plans to the next higher level until reaching the senior management level for approval.
Advantages to bottom-up planning is that lower-level employees take a personal interest in the plan which can improve motivation and moral. Though lower-level team members help to develop and implement the plan, it is primarily the project manager’s responsibility to see that the project is completed within budget and on time.
A blend of the two approaches is probably best in most cases. Needs can be determined at the top with accountability falling at lower levels. By combining the vision of senior management with the skills of lower-level team members efficiency and project success are more likely.