The program milestones set the timeliness or time requirements of the project and come from the business case. The business case may be an internal requirement for a new product, a new or revised process or plant, or a new organizational rollout. The business case may come externally from agencies of government or from customers. The program milestones we speak of are not usually derived from the project side of the balance sheet but are the milestones that identify directly with business value. Some program milestones may include:
■ Responding on time to Requests for Proposals (RFPs) from customers
■ Product presentation at trade events
■ Meeting regulatory or statutory external dates
■ Hitting a product launch date
■ Meeting certain customer deliveries
■ Aligning with other and dependent projects of which your project is a component
Actually deciding on calendar dates for the business-case-related program milestones is very situational. Sometimes if they come from external sources, the milestone dates are all but given. Perhaps a few internal program milestones of unique interest to the business need to be added with the external milestones.
On the other hand, if the project is all internal, then the estimates may well come from other project experiences that are "similar to," or the project sponsor could let the project team "bottom up" the estimate and accept the inevitability of a longer schedule as a cost of doing business. Often, the project sponsor will simply "top down" the dates based on business need. If the latter is the case, the project sponsor must express conviction in the face of all-too-probable objections by the project team that the schedule is too aggressive.
In any event, the final outcome should be program milestones, defined as events of 0 duration, at which time a business accomplishment is measurable and meaningful to the overall objective. To be effective, there should not be more than a handful of such milestones or else the business accomplishments begin to look like ordinary project task completions.
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What you need to know about… Project Management Made Easy! Project management consists of more than just a large building project and can encompass small projects as well. No matter what the size of your project, you need to have some sort of project management. How you manage your project has everything to do with its outcome.