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Milestones is More Important than Deadlines...

Written by on December 16, 2004

Updated: May 28, 2005

Deadlines are an important part of any project, but some deadlines are more important than others. They all have to be finished, but some deadlines need a certain amount of flexibility, where others do not.

When planning a project, we have two different kinds of deadlines to choose from:

  1. Normal deadlines
  2. Standby deadlines - these cannot be completed before one or more of the normal deadlines are finished

...and then you have milestones, which is not a deadline in itself.

When planning a project it is important how you use these different kinds of deadlines.

Normal deadlines needs be attached to each specific task. Some of these might be put on standby awaiting another to finish. And these two kinds of deadlines are essentially all you need to finish a project.

Then you can add Milestones, which are not a part of the actual project - but merely function to indicate the end.

Now here is the tricky part. Milestone needs to be fixed, deadlines needs to be flexible. If you move or miss a milestone, you project plan breaks down. But, it does not matter when a specific task takes place - as longs as it is before the milestone.

Example

  1. Project Start - November 1, 2004
    1. Gather material
      Deadline: November 10, 2004
    2. Hire personnel
      Deadline: November 15, 2004
    3. Get permits from town council
      Deadline: November 22, 2004
    4. Milestone
      Deadline: November 30, 2004
  2. Construction begins - December 1, 2004
    1. A number tasks...

The milestones cannot be changed, nor can each deadline within a phase be moved to another phase. The milestones are fixed. But, each individual deadline needs not to be fixed. Compare the above plan to the one below. The one above was how project was planned, the one below was how the projects was completed.

  1. Project Start - November 1, 2004
    1. Hire personnel
      Deadline: November 19, 2004
    2. Get permits from town council
      Deadline: November 20, 2004
    3. Gather material
      Deadline: November 27, 2004
    4. Milestone
      Deadline: November 30, 2004
  2. Construction begins - December 1, 2004
    1. A number tasks...

Each specific deadline changed but the project itself was still on track. And the people working with the project is probably happy, because they solve what they where supposed to, under their own jugdement and management. The project manager is happy to. The project went well.


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Thomas Baekdal

Thomas Baekdal

Founder of Baekdal, author, writer, strategic consultant, and new media advocate.

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