Milestone: everything you need to know

Introduction to Milestone

Why should I give importance to Milestones?

If you are reading this Paper, I imagine you want to know how to make your company's strategy a reality.You want to create an environment for your team to deliver the best projects that will help you achieve your strategy. So, get to know Milestones!


Chapter 1

Why use Milestones?

Having deliveries aligned with the strategy, being clear about what is being accomplished, and, above all, being sure that your company is in the right direction is a desire of any manager.

Clear goals are the basis for the success of any company, but goals without knowing what needs to be done are just dreams. Dreams are long and distant, have no set deadline, and can be reviewed in the future.

What happens in many companies is that they set goals and the key results that will guide them to them, care about the strategy, but stay with it. They cannot connect them with the tactical level, let alone execution.

Time goes by, much is talked and discussed, hypotheses are raised, but nothing is delivered. And the problem here is not the execution, but the clarity of what needs to be done to achieve the objectives. And of course, at the end of the day, the goals are not achieved and everything remains as it is, as if it were not really that important, or very difficult to achieve. The new objectives of the next OKR cycle arrive, and people still do not understand which direction to work.

Milestones are the solidification of objectives on paper, putting them concretely, leaving the vision and mind of the managers, and becoming palpable for everyone involved in the project.

When using Milestones, the strategy becomes clearer for all employees, as they are the ones who generate the ability to answer what is being done to achieve each objective.


Chapter 2

How do Milestones help me?

In an organization, the trust relationship between members is the most valuable asset. We seek common goals, so we value not only our efforts but also the efforts of others.

Being clear about what is being delivered, what objectives it will impact, and knowing how to see the projects that are being executed in a great difficulty when things take on a greater proportion. Each extra person in the organization adds capacity, but it also adds complexity.

Milestones are the translation of the deliverables necessary to achieve a certain objective or key result, making them concrete and visible to the entire company. Whoever takes care of the strategy is able to maintain communication with its tactical and operational level.

It is very common for each team to be involved with their specific projects and end up not knowing what is being done by their co-workers, even those who are physically close.

The alignment between the teams becomes practically nonexistent

The collaboration and exchange of information between the teams are restricted or is completely lost. Individual concerns are growing, and one of the biggest problems that companies encounter when not using Milestones is precisely this, believing that the projects are theirs and not the company. Protectionism for something that is being done does not provide the necessary transparency for those involved and the relationship of trust can end up broken. Communication does not flow the way it should and often the company ends up out of alignment, with work fronts in different directions.

A good analogy to understand this is that Milestones transform a mountain climb into a stair climb. When you climb a mountain, you don’t know if your steps will make sense in the long run, you only see the stone that is in front of you and is “on the verge” of falling apart. When you go up a ladder you can steady yourself with each step, you balance and solidify on each step you climb and only move on to the next when you are confident you will be able to go. Climbing a ladder is safer, gives you more control and exposes you less to the risk of ruin


Chapter 3

What are Milestones?

At this point you may already be thinking, "but what are Milestones?"And to answer that question, I will say: you know what it is, only that it often doesn't make you feel good, let alone others.

Believing that the other person on your side, even if you have explained everything very well, does not know everything about your Milestone and how it will impact the company’s results.

Simply put, Milestones are deliveries. This can be called releases, epics, projects, it depends on the methodology you are going to use. But they are not different things, they are only seen from different points of view.

The focus of Milestones

precisely align expectations and communication. It is connecting strategy with execution. It is to maintain the bond of trust between those involved in the company.

Milestones show when an important planned part of the job is delivered. When a delivery is ready to hit the market and impact your current and possible future customers. And that can be anything, it depends on what role you see Milestone. The Product Owner has in them what he deems necessary to have a part of the product delivered. Likewise, it is a trust agreement that he needs to have with his superior and also with his operations team.

But from the most idealistic point of view, a Milestone is much more than that, it is the transformation of goals into reality. It is the process of transforming the intangible into something that everyone can touch. It is really the ability to be able to define and create a desire and turn it into reality.

The ability to create Milestones is essential for any company, which is why it requires people capable of seeing everyone’s needs, whether they are employees or customers.


Chapter 4

How do I use Milestone in my company?

With a well-defined strategy, it's time to start creating your Milestones, which must be aligned with the defined objectives and key results.

scrum

As already mentioned, there is no point in trying to create Milestones if your company does not have its OKRs (objectives and key results) clearly defined for the entire company.

The result is diverse, especially with the complexity of a large organization, which can be modeled to deliver a much greater capacity with the resources it already has available and end up not being used well. In companies that do not use this methodology, there is a lot of waste of resources, and the work of employees is not well used.

Create a Milestone part of an Objective, which uses Key Results to measure whether they are being achieved or not. In order to use Milestones effectively, one must define which deliveries will be made to achieve the key results already defined, and after that, divide this delivery into smaller, more tangible, and faster execution tasks for each operational team. Here the responsibility lies with the Manager, assuming the role of Product Owner.

Right people in the right places

This is the biggest challenge for any company, as having the right potential allocated in the right place defines the organization’s capacity. For this reason, always make sure that the Managers and Product Owners have the vision and the technical capacity to detail the company’s OKRs in tangible deliveries.

Milestones breeding rituals need to accompany OKR cycles. At each completion and monthly OKR check, the milestones in execution need to be checked and new Milestones need to be built to generate real value for the business.

Milestones are a guide for the execution of the deliverable. They need to have perfect communication, in the right language for the team to be able to deliver their result.


Chapter 5

The role of the Product Owner

The Product Owner has the mission to define the Milestones that must be prioritized in order to achieve the Key Results. It has the role of connecting the strategic to the operational level, breaking intangible objectives into tangible deliverables.

An important point that any Product Owner needs to have is a vision of their product and the next step. Having ideas, making diagnoses, and formatting a Milestone is not easy.

The Product Owner is a communication piece that transforms the strategic message into deliveries and transforms these deliveries into tasks that the execution team understands as jobs to be done. Each task must have its definitions of “done”, which are the prerequisites for considering the tasks as done. For this reason, your delivery must be documentation, a guide for the team to understand what must be accomplished and what is necessary to make such a delivery.

Finally, the Product Owner is responsible for analyzing all tasks and judging whether they meet the quality requirements previously defined to define whether the tasks are really done or if something is still missing.


Chapter 6

About the Milestone cycles

Milestones cycles accompany the OKR Cycle, which has its events occurring monthly, after defining the OKRs.

gestao

These Milestones cycles start from monthly events between the strategic level and the Product Owner to align what should be delivered.

The Milestone event is divided into three parts: Milestones Planning, Milestones Grooming, and Milestones Review.

Milestones Planning

It aims to define which deliveries can be made and which will positively impact the results defined by the company. There are moments of brainstorming, analysis of possible opportunities, risk, and potential return. This meeting needs to be a rich moment, when the conversation must be directed between the strategic and tactical levels, without thinking about how the Milestones will be delivered. On the other hand, the language used in Milestones Planning must be simple enough that the operational team will understand them, after all, they will have the job of turning ideas into tangible deliverables.

Grooming

It is interesting to have representatives from all levels of the company: from those who define the objectives to those who will carry out the tasks to achieve them. This is the time to enrich your Milestones, dissecting them in tasks that, when ready, will define that the delivery is ready too. The fact of having representatives from different levels of the company at this meeting helps in defining such tasks, because who knows better what needs to be done than the team that will carry out the work?

It is necessary to emphasize that, after defining the tasks necessary for the delivery to be carried out, an informal arrangement is made: if any task was really necessary and it was not placed at Milestone, this problem was generated by those who were at the meeting and everyone must assume their responsibility. portion.

Review

Requires preparation on the part of the Product Owner, he needs to be connected to the execution and take the information of the Status of Milestones delivered, in progress and already prioritized. It is an important moment for feedback on the execution and analysis of productive capacity. To understand the team’s work capacity and technique, the PO needs to know the limit of their team, what they can and cannot do, and the way they perform the tasks. Keep internal tasks broken in your team’s capacity, maintaining the challenge of the job, but reducing complexity to facilitate delivery.

The Manager needs to take his vision to the game

For this very reason, it requires prior preparation by both parties, the manager must also generate real value for the Product Owner, passing on his perception of how he sees things.

The Product Owner needs to know his team, to know his strengths and weaknesses. In addition, you need to have your own vision, you must bring to the meeting your prior planning of what you believe should be done.

In the same way that the Product Owner depends on his team to deliver his Milestone. The Manager needs the Product Owner to help him link the strategy to the execution.

The construction and delivery of Milestones planned and divided into smaller and executable tasks is the responsibility of the Product Owner, but the achievement of the objectives is the responsibility of the Manager. So even the moment requires trust between the two parties.

Milestone’s transformation into operational tasks occurs in the head of the Product Owner, he puts on paper what was discussed in Brainstorming. Taking all the existing possibilities and prioritizing what will generate more positive impact for your product.

Grooming is the event in which all roles must work together, enriching Milestones, breaking down the delivery into small and clear tasks for future execution, making the product technically feasible, and building together what must be done to have the best possible delivery.

The cycle is repeated, always aligning the OKR cycles with the Sprint cycles, connecting the points to generate real value.


Chapter 7

What a Milestone needs to have!

Every Milestone needs to be as clear as possible, for everyone who wants to have the power to impact the desired goal in some way. It needs to deliver real value if objectives are to be achieved.

First of all, a Milestone needs a link with some Key Results of your company. It needs to be aligned with the organization’s goals and strategy and must also generate value for the company to move in the right direction, or the value will not be added.

The secret

Every Milestone must also have a clear definition of what will be delivered and how employees will work to transform delivery into something real, that creates value.

Furthermore, we emphasize here the need for all Milestone to have a responsible person. This does not mean that a person will do all the necessary work for Milestone to be delivered, but that if any employee of the company has doubts about that Milestone, the person in charge must explain what it is about and how it will have a positive impact. for the company.

Use more than one work methodology

We like to say that a well-defined strategy is worthless if no one knows how it can positively impact it. Goals and Key Results alone will not lead your company to success, contrary to what some people think. Likewise, using Scrum without connecting it to your OKRs will only make people work better. But that does not always translate into better results if they are not connected with each other.

We recommend the use of Milestones in all types of companies, and in companies of any size, be it a new startup or an old family business. Connecting strategy and execution is crucial to dictating which companies will succeed in the short and long term, and companies that do not always tend to be less competitive than those that use them.