The 10 Traits of Highly Effective Project Milestones
By Chris LeCompte
I’ve written in the past about planning effective web design milestones, so now I want to delve into the actual elements that make up a good milestone. Milestones should be the meat of your project process for any web design or development engagement. They constitute your game plan and provide a clear roadmap for you and your client.
Since milestones are very much like goals, they should follow the SMART routine: Specific, Measureable, Attainable, Relevant and Timely. I’ll discuss how you can apply SMART plus five other traits to your milestones to make them actionable and effective.
An Effective Milestone is…
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Every milestone you commit to a project should be specific in scope. That means when you look at the milestone, you should know exactly what is going to be required to do it. Milestones that aren’t specific are vague, confusing and undoable.
Planning More Effective Milestones in Web Design Projects
By Chris LeCompte
Most successful web design projects are organized into a system of milestones with each one representing a critical piece of the project. Milestones are simple in concept, but they can be tricky to nail down.
For example, how specific should we get with the milestones? If we get too specific, we risk breaking the project down into a chaotic mess of little chunks. However, if we aren’t specific enough, the deliverables become unknown and nothing gets done.
Finding the right balance is key. It takes practice and persistence, and it demands a lot of discipline from the designer or project manager. Milestones also vary from project to project. Larger projects require more milestones while smaller projects may only need a handful.
In my experience with many small, mid-sized and large projects, I’ve created a base list of milestones that I typically work with and adjust for my projects. Read the Complete Article
Managing Project Boundaries: Stages, Phases & Milestones (#25 in the Hut Introduction to Project Management)
By JISC infoNet
A well-constructed plan with clear deliverables should make it very easy to track the progress of your project as part of an ongoing monitoring and review process. Defining key stages, phases and milestones is an essential part of this process. Why three words? Although ‘stages’ and ‘phases’ sound similar there are distinct meanings in project terminology.
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- Stages: The intervals between Project Board Meetings – the end of a stage is a point where the Board can decide to continue with, or close, the project.
- Phases: Distinct divisions between the types of work. For instance there may be a procurement phase, a testing phase, a pilot phase, a full implementation phase.
- Milestones: Significant success points, several of which may occur within a phase – e.g. in a pilot phase of a VLE project, enrolment; first access; first assessments; first interactive session; first use of multimedia etc.
Project Milestones and the Project Team
By João Almeida
I was recently discussing the need for milestone visibility. Strange topic to be discussing, but it happened! The conversation begun as I was making a point to allow the PM tool (in this case MS Project) to calculate the milestone date based on the tasks dependencies and how easy it was to have this information available and updated. My audience questioned why should the project team need milestones!
Better to have questioned why do we need to breath.
Milestone visibility to the project team was viewed as a side issue. The team needs to focus on the technical work and not on the management issues like budget and dates.
This out-dated view of the world is still alive.
Currently not to have any kind of process (like milestone updates) on a project so the project team can have as much time as possible to make the technical work can lead only to one outcome. Read the Complete Article
The Meaning of Deadline in Project Management
By Ron Rosenhead
I have spoken to many people who complain that the person “did not deliver against the deadline”. Issues such as the “figures did not arrive before the deadline,” or “the report missed the deadline” and “because of this we will have to wait further three weeks before the committee meets again.”
It is the main responsibility of the project manager to check that whatever is due actually gets delivered. From evidence given to me it seems that more rigorous systems are needed to ensure delivery takes place on the correct date it should and that the quality of the product is what is required by the client.
What could be included in such a process? Here are some possible examples:
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- a variation form – this is a simple form that shows which activity will not be delivered by the due date or budget.
Project Signoff Points
By Literal Thinking
Any size or type of project will have identified deliverables that need to be completed and signed off at key points during a project’s lifecycle. The signoff signifies completeness, or at least business acceptance of the deliverable.
Most large scale projects will have a long list of deliverables that need to be completed for the duration of the project. Some of these need to be completed very early in the project (e.g. a project charter), some not until the project is completed (e.g. a post project review). Often, the number of phases a project will have is dictated by the number of deliverables required, and when these are required to be completed.
While some complex and well-run projects may identify specific signoff points or dates for each and every defined deliverable, most projects we encounter and have been a part of adopt a more general approach of having the signoff points coincide with the end of a particular phase of the project. Read the Complete Article
The Project Definition Rating Index (PDRI) for Building Projects (#12 in the Hut Project Management for Construction)
By Chris Hendrickson
The Construction Industry Institute has developed rating indexes for different types of projects to assess the adequacy of project scope definitions. These are intended to reflect best practices in the building industry and provides a checklist for recommended activities and milestones to define a project scope. The rating index is a weighted sum of scores received for a variety of items on the scope definition checklist. Each item in the checklist is rated as “not applicable” (0), “complete definition” (1), “minor deficiencies” (2), “some deficiencies” (3), “major deficiencies” (4) or “incomplete or poor definition” (5). Lower scores in these categories are preferable. Some items in the checklist include:
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- Business Strategy for building use, justification, plan, economic analysis, facility requirements, expansion/alteration consideration, site selection issues and project objectives.
- Owner Philosophy with regard to reliability, maintenance, operation and design.
Managing Across the Globe: Define Clear, System-Based Milestones (#1 in the series Tips to Managing Across the Globe)
By Johanna Rothman
So you’re managing people and projects around the world. It’s not easy, and it seems to be the norm these days. I’ve worked with global projects for the past 15 years, and here’s one of my tips to making them successful.
One of the biggest problems with global projects is knowing who depends on what piece. Sometimes pieces of the system are interrelated, without the project manager understanding how. If you and your project team define clear handoffs that are based on pieces of the system under development, you have a much better chance of knowing if you’re all on schedule or not.
Too often, I see major milestones such as “Requirements Complete” or the ubiquitous “Code Complete.” I don’t think I’ve ever seen a project that met a “Requirements Complete” milestone, but I have seen projects where the requirements could be baselined, or where the most important requirements were defined enough to continue the project’s work. Read the Complete Article
By Barry Otterholt
Phase-shifting occurs in nearly every information technology project I’ve observed. Phase-shifting simply means that milestones are being made, but the related work hasn’t actually been completed, thereby shifting it to a subsequent phase.
A classic example of phase-shifting is from a development phase into a testing phase. During the development phase, the project is highly motivated to hit published milestones. And if you can show that important milestones being met, sponsors and other stakeholders will leave you alone. Even better, you don’t have to argue about work not being done with the Team Leads or Contractor Leads who are usually more qualified to win the argument.
Early in the project, the project manager’s message is “get it done on time, and within budget”. This leaves scope as the only variable the Team Leads and Contractors can manage. And so they manage scope, which means they compromise on scope in favor of reporting “on time, and within budget” to make you happy. Read the Complete Article
Decompose Tasks to Inch-pebble Granularity (#7 in the series 21 Project Management Success Tips)
By Karl E. Wiegers
Decompose tasks to inch-pebble granularity. Inch-pebbles are miniature milestones (get it?). Breaking large tasks into multiple small tasks helps you estimate them more accurately, reveals work activities you might not have thought of otherwise, and permits more accurate, fine-grained status tracking. Select inch-pebbles of a size that you feel you can estimate accurately. I feel most comfortable with inch-pebbles that represent tasks of about 5 to 15 labor-hours, or about one to three days in duration. Overlooked tasks are a common contributor to schedule slips, so breaking large problems into small bits reveals more details about the work that must be done and improves your ability to make accurate estimates.
You can track progress based on the number of inch-pebbles that have been completed at any given time, compared to those you planned to complete by that time. Read the Complete Article