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Home » Project Management

Project Milestones: Setting the Pace

Submitted by James Higginbotham on May 3, 2006 – 6:20 pmOne Comment

With anything you do in the church setting, there are target dates. The dates may be flexible or firm. The pace you set for your ministry will be defined by a number of factors, but often the key factor is the milestones. Milestones tell not only your stakeholders when you think a major step has been taken, but also your team. Each milestone needs to have the following things to make it definable:

  1. The Goal – the work that will be delivered by the end of the milestone
  2. Success Criteria – things that can be measured to determine if the milestone was reached. This may be tangible artifacts or decisions that are documented prior to moving to the next milestone
  3. Next Steps – the next milestone(s) that must be achieved to continue forward, if any

Revisiting the wireless example from the last post, here is how we might structure a milestone definition:

Milestone 1: Basic Wireless
Goal: Install a 802.11b+g wireless router with a basic firewall that covers the inside and outside deck seating areas of the coffee bar
Success Criteria: 1) Connect staff laptops (PC and Mac) to the wireless without WEP keys and reach 10 different websites, 2) Verify that private servers at the main building cannot be reached directly, 3) Verify, from an external network, that the laptops on the wireless network cannot be reached through the firewall
Next Steps: Milestone 2: Add content filtering

Simple? You bet! Effective? Absolutely! Everyone involved, from the staff to the volunteers that will be helping out can determine exactly what this milestone is focused toward and what is needed. Assessment can be made for the hardware and network devices, since we know what the larger goal of the project is, but not all configuration is necessary to get the project underway and begin to use it.

Another advantage, other than the clear communication it provides, is the agility it can provide your ministry. I’m sure this is hard to imagine, but what if your staff decided that, the week after Milestone 2 starts, that something else is more important? Though I’m sure this has never happened to you before (uh-huh), you have at the very least provided a usable wireless network by the end of the first milestone. Not all projects can be done this way, and it may take two or three milestones to reach this level within a project. Good stopping points allow for adjustments in your ministry without leaving projects all over the ground for you to step over for the next few months and help with staff and volunteer expectations.

Finally, setting and reaching milestones consistently can only help when you recruit your church or ministry. People jump in when things are successful, so you will generally see upbeat volunteers who are more than willing to talk about your ministry. The flip side is also true, though: set unreachable milestones or push everyone too hard too often and they will leave, talking to others and reducing your chances of being taken seriously and potentially driving others away. Set your milestones carefully through prayer, make the checklist measureable, and reward your team when you reach the milestone. In the end, you will see progress, be able to manage expectations with others, and grow your church or ministry.

[tags]project management, milestones[/tags]

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