Planning through Milestones


Its a pity that the way conventional planning is done from start to the end is a bit different from what practical experience often challenges us to accept.

This post is about how we can improve our planning skills using reverse engineering (don’t be afraid though if you are not an engineer , its simple) from end to the start and using simple milestones.

Unfortunately, modern planning softwares that we use limit our abilities to some extent that if we do not have enough parameters to fill in the details the results delivered would be far from realistic that’s why I am suggesting here the use of milestones in developing a project plan in a much efficient way.

In a project , we have objectives ( cost, quality, safety, goodwill, other measurable and non-measurable outcomes) which we want to achieve over a certain period of time.

Milestones are made up of time & objective. How do we arrive at the milestones is a million dollar question which has very affordable answer.

We break our objectives into different parts, small or large depending upon our convenience.

We break the time required into periods of time we are comfortable to measure our progress at.

We plot the Objective on to Y-Axis and Time onto X-Axis with their parts (units) which we decided earlier. We then join the intersections.

The points of intersection decide the milestone locations with a definite Time & Objective attached to it.

We can see in the chart below how 10 milestones have been marked by joining the intersections of Objective vs. Time axes.

Now that we have values for milestones, we start from end to start , the reverse engineering and start asking questions to ourselves & other stakeholders such as :

(1) Are we happy with the placement of milestones, the way they are spread?

(2) Would the customer be happy with the delivery objectives as depicted in the milestones ?

(3) Do we have enough resources in order to meet these milestones ?

(4) Would other stakeholders be happy and comfortable if these milestones are met?

(5) How much contingency have we allowed just in case we struggle to meet these milestones ?

Although many more questions can be asked, these questions can be used to form the basis of the test of milestone foundation.

Only and only if all the stakeholders agree with the milestones , then only Level 2 and more detailed programs should proceed otherwise we will have to comeback and fix the plan a no. of times and still not meet the final outcome.

This Feasibility Test should ideally give answers suggesting if we need to fix our milestones or not, if we do , we comeback and fix the milestones.

if you do not have a chart like the one shown here before you go into detailed planning, you are stacking the odds against you and attracting failure.

Similar charts can be generated for each of the objectives. We generally produce such charts as S-Curves for labour and cost which are very popular but the fact is that we can have these charts for each of the objectives we want to meet over the duration of the project.

The period between two milestones can be used as Phases to achieve final outcome which are then detailed by means of activities and then sequencing flows from there.

More in next post, see you then.

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