Download the tool and see how you as project manager develop a milestone plan or master plan with the project team. The tool describes how a proactive project leader facilitates the planning in the project team, so that you at the same time conduct team building and build quality in the plan. The tool shows how the planning is based on the project scope described in the objective hierarchy. The project plan is built up in workstreams with short feedback loops so that a proactive follow-up is possible.
Purpose and yield
The milestone plan is prepared to get an overview, provide the opportunity to manage, so that deliverables and impact are provided on time and budget. In addition, the purpose is to create common understanding and acceptance of the tasks among project participants and stakeholders. Who does what and when? The plan creates the pace and intensity in the project so deliverables and impact are created with a minimum of effort and time. The plan creates coherence between project objectives and the individual’s efforts and responsibilities. The masterplan structures the project and maps out the best path from challenge to solution.
When is the plan used in the project?
- The milestone plan is used by different target groups. It must therefore be build up in levels so that high-level managers do not drown in detail whereas project teams and work groups must be able to use it for detailed work planning.
- The milestone plan is drawn up in the project group as soon as possible. Through the initial phases, the plan will become more and more detailed.
- The plan is used for communication about the project, project follow-up and detailed planning throughout the project.
Who participates in planning?
- The first rough draft is prepared by the project manager in collaboration with the project owner
- The milestone plan (or the master plan) should be developed in the project team at a planning workshop
- If the project is so large that there are several teams and workstreams, each team prepares their plan based on the master plan.
- At all levels, a rough plan is prepared for the entire project period. This plan is then continuously detailed for each phase and later for the near future, e.g. for the next quarter or next month.
- If the project group is less than 8 participants, the plan can be drawn up in one group. If the project is large, it may be advantageous to divide into smaller groups, each of which takes its own workstream.
How to do
The plan is prepared on the wall using cardboard or post-it notes. Milestone planning is done in the following stages:
- Define workstreams: The project is divided into workstreams. The workstreams can be defined on the basis of the deliverables, critical issues or an appropriate division of responsibility in the project.
- Milestones – sub-objectives in the process: The next step is to divide the process into milestones, ie. the sub-objectives. At the end of each workstream is a project deliverable, a final objective. If these final deliverables are broken down, a number of milestones occur that are well-suited for managing the process.
- Dependencies and timewise order: When the milestones in the individual workstream are placed in the right order, there may be dependencies across the workstreams. The dependencies mean that the milestone in a workstream must be reached before the milestone in another workstream can be completed.
- Phases and key decisions: Once the milestones are defined for the different workstreams, it is possible to draw some time limits where the project changes character. It is in these phase transitions and decision points that the steering committee as a minimum must be consulted and should approve.
Once the milestone plan has been drawn up, it is possible to plan the activities to meet the individual milestones. There is logic in this order – first defining what the project team must achieve, then assessing how this can be implemented. Then the time spent in the individual activities can be estimated. When the first draft of the plan is ready, a risk analysis must be carried out so that preventive and mitigating activities can be incorporated into the plan.
Once the plan has been prepared on the wall in the project room, it can be documented in MS-project, Excel, PowerPoint or Word. This milestone planning tool contains various templates that can be used.
The milestone plan in the PowerPoint edition contains:
Template 1: This milestone plan covers 15 weeks and is available in two copies for the first 30 weeks. You can adjust the week numbers in the template. Then you can enter the names of the different workstreams. A number of boxes have been made for the individual workstreams, where the milestones can be noted during the current week. You delete the milestone boxes you don’t need.
When the milestones are entered and placed correctly timewise, you can mark the dependencies across the workstreams with the arrows. You delete the arrows you don’t need. If you need more, you can copy extra arrows from the existing ones.
At the top of the template you can enter the phase names. The individual phase can be extended or shortened. Excess phases are deleted.
Template 2: This project plan specifies the milestones with a number next to the relevant workstream and under the week in question. The milestones can be described at the bottom of the template. There is an example of a partially completed milestone plan.
The milestone plan in the Word edition contains:
Template 1: This plan describes the individual milestones according to the particular workstream and the week in question. Each A4 template covers a 5 week plan for all workstreams.
Template 2: This plan describes the individual milestones according to the particular workstream and the month in question. Each A4 template covers a 5 month plan for all workstreams.
Template 3: Each A4 template describes the milestones of a single workstream. Therefore, you need one A4 page per workstream. The project plan also contains a description of who in the project team is responsible for that milestone and its deadline.
Template 4: Corresponds to template 3, but there is added a column to describe the budget per milestone. Each A4 template describes the milestones of a single workstream. Therefore, you need one A4 page per workstream. The project plan contains a description of who in the project team is responsible for the relevant milestone, its budget and deadline.
Template 5: In this project plan, the milestones are given with a number according to the relevant workstream and the week in question. The milestones can be described at the bottom of the template. There is an example of a partially completed milestone plan. This plan corresponds to template 2 in the PowerPoint edition.
The templates in the planning tool are adequately general so they can be used regardless of whether you work with projects based on IPMA, Prince2 or PMI.