Milestone planning is a direct contributor to successful enterprise project management. Big or small, all projects must be duly broken down into relevant milestones for proper planned vs accomplished goals tracking.
It is not just about the project progress or completing the project. There is more to it than what meets the eye.
Milestone planning is the project manager’s way of keeping the stakeholders engaged as well as accountable. Not in harsh terms rather purely from a strategic as well as tactical standpoint.
Not all stakeholders are involved in the daily functioning of projects. And we all are always occupied in multiple simultaneous projects. Hence, project communication & stakeholder expectation management also adds to the challenge here.
Without milestone planning it is difficult to assess and allocate the right priority and focus as required.
Add to it the strategic importance of each project or a program to the overall company vision. This is where things get trickier.
Hence, when you breakdown projects into milestones and map them with associated projects you are able to align well with the overarching goal and make the right decisions as well.
What is Milestone Planning?
The first logical thing to do with project management plan is to ensure the project goal is mapped out clearly. This requires lot of brainstorming and ideation with the stakeholders and customers.
To start with getting to the crux is important.
- What is project objective?
- Is the project feasible?
- Should it be taken up?
- Do we have the required funding and approvals?
Once the above are answered, the actual planning & breakdown begins.
The key is to define your critical project milestones first.
Now, this must be done after careful review of the project objective and associated mini-goals.
It is important to understand what achievements will matter most to the stakeholders as well as will truly indicate how close we are to goal realization.
The more definite and clear the milestone objectives greater is the execution alignment.
List out milestones based on the project complexity and duration.
Also keep the duration between milestones in a manner that allows to accommodate any on the fly changes or realize the impact of the previous milestones on the ongoing one.
This will allow you to adapt to any unseen & unwanted impacts to the project.
Make sure to share the milestone list with all the stakeholders. Get their buy-in. Try and get a sense of their priorities and alignment with the overall project. It is important as they have a say in the project and will try to influence when things aren’t to their liking.
Now let’s get into the specifics of milestone planning.
- Based on the complexity, duration and efforts of the milestone start with a robust task breakdown.
- Well defined tasks with clear assignments, due dates and estimated hours are key.
- Highlight any task inter dependencies so the teams know whom to reach out to when needed.
- Try to be as granular in terms of tasks, subtasks, task categorization and tagging as required.
- The more clarity you can offer to the team in terms of what the tasks entail, easier for the team to deliver and be committed to these tasks.
- Make all tasks visible across the team for real-time collaboration. Use Kanban boards and custom task status to clearly define a logical lifecycle of each task from start to end.
- This will enable prompt progress tracking, identifying bottlenecks and handling them proactively.
Add to it if you have a significant remote team to work with given the current scenario.
What are the benefits of Milestone Planning?
Once you have laid out the ground work w.r.t milestone planning and task breakdown, it is important to monitor and manage them effectively.
Some of the simple metrics that you could track regularly for your milestones are
- Count of open vs closed tasks
- Count of overdue tasks per milestone
- Planned vs actual spent hours
- Planned vs actual spent cost
- Count of reopen tasks
These simple operational metrics are enough to point out anomalies in your execution.
You can quickly deep dive on specific aspects – time, resource and cost to identify what is happening with them and which of these 3 aspects need immediate attention and action.
As a result, you tend to strengthen the required operational rigour on the milestone execution.
- Conflicting timelines and estimates if any get highlighted.
- Any issues with task ordering or sequencing also become pronounced and hence the task planning can be optimized in time.
- Teams are more diligent in their time tracking efforts to ensure timely completion of tasks.
- Clarity on project budget and spending helps to prioritize the right milestone activities.
- Quality of execution improves due to the granular transparency across task assignments and dependencies.
- Real time visibility increases accountability among the stakeholders and the project team.
- Increased participation and engagement from stakeholders generates required support for the milestones and the project.
- Midway course correction if required becomes easy when all parties are well informed as well as involved.
Road to Success
Enterprise project management is very exciting and rewarding when done correctly. It sure has a lot of challenges that need to be handled well. But then, the key lies in doing the simple things, rightly.
What that means is, be it task management, resource allocation, time tracking, remote team management, collaboration or project information sharing all must happen in sync over a single source of truth.
A single project management platform that enables agility across the organization as well as one that provides the right information to the right audience at the right time.
And that too with reduced OPEX costs. The idea is to eliminate chaos, enable transparency and boundary-less team collaboration.
Do invest in an enterprise project management tool that offers robust project reporting in addition to the benefits highlighted above.
Because, what matters is operational efficiency and organization wide agility to deliver successfully for your clients.
Want to explore how Orangescrum open source enterprise project management tool can help deliver your milestones successfully? Contact us today.