How to Write a Project Plan 2/5 - Milestones & Tasks
Being able to write a project plan is an absolutely vital skill for any project manager to have and whilst it is by no means the only skill required, it is the one which most people associated with project management.
Now whilst some people will still do plans in Microsoft Excel, the usual tools used by project managers is Microsoft Project which is what we are using here in the examples shown.
Project Plan Milestones and Tasks
Looking at the example plan above you will see the Milestones and Tasks highlighted. Basically a project plan is a list of tasks each of which a project manager can track and report on. However this will quickly drive you mad if your project is anythng other than simple. Therefore most project managers will break the project into a series of phases, the completion of which is marked as a milestone. Think of these as similar to reaching the completing the key milestones in life such as 18, 21 and 40 years of age.
As you will see these phases of work can overlap or they may be purely sequential. It really depends on what development approach you are utilising on the project. HOwever the aim of milestones in a pure project management sense is to have checkpoints on the plan which enable clear progress of the project to be measured. This is paricularly the case if you assign a tangible deliverable to the completion of each milestone ie the end of the Requirements phase occurs when all Requirements are documented and approved.
Now you can document milestone's frequently like every month, or specifically at the end of phases. I personally prefer putting milestones at the end of phases as it reduces the project reporting overhead and gives you more time to rectify things if dates are slipping. However new project managers in particular, like putting them in more frequently so that they can get fast help should the project start to unravel.
How to Write a Project Plan 2/5 Milestones & Tasks- Tip
Milestone and Tasks are the at the core of every project plan. Learning how to document these is the most important technical skill a project manager can have in the planning area. The good news is that it's not a difficult skill to learn. However knowing how to plan is!
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