Milestones are Handoffs

 

I taught a workshop about transitioning to Agile earlier this week. One of the things that's difficult for many project managers to recognize is that milestones must be deliverables–otherwise, it's too hard to know when something is done.

One of the participants had a slightly puzzled look on his face when I said that, so I'm not now thinking that another way to think about milestones is to call them handoffs. If everyone has the idea that their milestone is really a handoff to someone else in the project, you're more likely to get to “done” for a milestone.

Updated later Friday, changed a “not” to a “now.” Thanks Jason, for letting me know I made not enough sense 🙂

Labels: project management

6 Replies to “Milestones are Handoffs”

  1. Hi Johanna,
    ‘Handoff to someone else’ is not specific enough. Should have it been ‘handoff to customer’?

  2. Sometimes ‘feature complete’ milestone is achieved by piling buggy and not integrated code in front of QA team. Makes project plan look nice for a while, but is hardly related to real progress.

  3. The handoff idea is interesting. In some situations it makes sense for it to be the customer, in others it could be the QA team.
    I led a team that built a product that was more-or-less shrink-wrapped software. The developers would write their own unit tests as they coded the feature, which would run as part of the build system. When the developers thought they were done, the QA team got the feature. They would closely scrutinize the new feature for usability. They would try anything and everything to break it. Finally, they would write UI automation, using a product called TestComplete, to add coverage for the new feature to their suite of automated regression tests. The system worked reasonably well.
    To address Alex’s comment:

    Sometimes ‘feature complete’ milestone is achieved by piling buggy and not integrated code in front of QA team. Makes project plan look nice for a while, but is hardly related to real progress.

    Depending on the team dynamic, either peer pressure, management intervention, or both are called for to stop the offending individual. If this has spread to the point where it is simply ‘how things are done’, this is a symptom of a very dysfunctional situation. My best advice is: get out!

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