Holly Davis is a digital project manager and certified scrum master at the award-winning digital agency White October. Holly is also the co-founder of DO PM. In her spare time she likes to blog on Medium. You can also follow her on Twitter @ProjectDavis
Are you stuck in a rut? Do you come out in a cold sweat when your manager asks you what your 5-year plan is? Do you feel ambitious but lack a sense of direction?
If you’re anything like me, you’ll find setting work objectives difficult. Looking back, I realise that my work objectives were not always aligned with my personal goals, but were written with a focus on pleasing my employer.
Earlier this year, I began to explore this area and uncovered some different approaches to goal setting.
The journey started with a book recommendation from my manager - Scaling up by Verne Harnish in which Verne talks about the importance of having a personal plan.
His one page personal plan template helps you to identify your priorities in five key areas: faith, family, friends, fitness and finance. I liked Verne’s very human focus for setting business objectives. He made me realise that ‘meaningful work,’ or what you do for a living, cannot be looked at in isolation from what motivates you as an individual.
A study by the Harvard Business Review last year found that people feel and perform better when four basic needs are met:
I had always thought of my career goals and personal values to be quite separate things, but this study demonstrates that true motivation, purpose and happiness are really only possible when our values and goals are closely aligned.
So how do you ‘scale up’ your personal plan? I admit I struggled with this and felt like I needed something a bit more basic, so I followed the first five steps outlined in this blog post:
It’s sometimes difficult to identify your core achievements and values, so you might want to call on a close friend or partner to help out.
From this stage I began to think about my priorities in life and identified goals based largely based on my current ‘contributions’.
I then split my goals up into short term (next 3 months), medium term (within the next year) and long-term (3-5 years).
From these, I was able to put together a personal manifesto. It’s just six sentences long and I pull it out every time I’m faced with a decision that affects my work or personal life. As a result, it has had a big impact in helping me to write meaningful objectives and make decisions that are aligned with my values.
So, next time your manager asks you for your five-year plan, I hope this post will alleviate the cold sweat and help you to respond with something that aligns your career goals with your personal values.
Once you have set some high level goals, you might find it useful to follow the steps in this blog post to help create more SMART actionable steps to help you obtain them.
I also recommend the Strengths Finder 2.0 book by Tom Rath and taking the online questionnaire. If you haven’t taken a personality test before, this will be a fun and revealing experience which will help bring further depth to your personal development plan.
Milestones make it easier to keep projects on track by calling out major events, dates, decisions, and deliverables. Here are a few examples of project milestones you might include in your plan:
Let’s dig a little deeper and explore 3 specific examples of how using project milestones can benefit your projects.
No plan is ever complete without a list of deadlines! The best way to make them noticeable is to use the project management milestones and deliverables technique. What does this mean? Make the deliverables project milestones!
Why do this? Well, it’s no secret that not everyone wants to pore over your beautiful project plan to find key dates. Most people—your teammates included—want a top-level view of key dates and events. Milestones are great for this purpose because they’re called out in a special way—usually with a diamond—in project plans.
While you should list the tasks and effort leading up to a project milestone, be sure to present the milestone at the end of those tasks to signify a delivery, or even a presentation of, the deliverable.
Here's an example of how Washington Hyperloop uses milestones to track an important deadline in their project.
Are there days from now until the end of your project that could impact your project in some way? Maybe your team will need to be out of the office for a mandatory training. Maybe there’s a board meeting you’re expected to attend.
It’s important to keep all of these important events in mind when you’re planning a project because they could possibly impact your project schedule. So why not include them as project milestones so you can track them all in one place?
In this example, the team’s off-site strat-op meeting has been added to the project plan as a milestone so work can be scheduled around it.
Many projects rely on the work produced by external teams or partners to make forward progress. If you’re not tracking those external factors somewhere, there’s a great chance you’ll forget to follow-up on it.
That’s why it’s important to list these deliverables as project milestones if you’re working on a project that depends on someone or something outside of your project. Here’s an example of what that might look like for a client approval.
We’ve got a free class to help you get everyone on board with your plan! Register for Plan Up: How to Create and Sell a Winning Project Plan to see why planning sets the stage for project success, and get a free Guide to Project Planning when you sign up.
Creating milestones for your project plan can be simple, especially with TeamGantt. Once you’ve mapped out your overall process and plan with your team, you can easily add tasks, identify gantt chart milestones, and determine task owners. Adding a milestone (or converting a task to a milestone) is very easy in TeamGantt.
Once you’ve signed up for a TeamGantt account, here’s a quick video on how to create milestones:
Project milestones are easy to create and even easier to track because you’ve called out the most important points in your project.
Want to give clients and stakeholders a high-level view of the project? Simply follow these steps to share a PDF of key project milestones in your gantt chart.
From your gantt chart view, click the All Dates menu at the top of your gantt chart, and select Only Milestones from the drop-down.
Navigate to your project's Menu, and select Print/Export PDF from the drop-down.
Customize your PDF settings, then click View PDF to complete the export. From there, you can download and/or print your PDF to share with clients and stakeholders.
Who would have thought such a critical step could be so easy?
TeamGantt makes it easy to create, track, and collaborate on all your project milestones so nothing slips through the cracks.
You’ll have all the features you need to ensure projects finish on time and under budget—from drag and drop simplicity and team collaboration to customizable views and workload management.
Best of all, it’s all wrapped up in a simple and intuitive interface your whole team will love. 😍