Agile milestone criteria in project marketing under the microscope

From Johanna Rothman deals with topics from the area of project management - and especially agile management. In her article about agile milestone criteria she explains the principle. In her opinion, milestone criteria can make an important contribution to ensuring that a project can be brought to completion. Milestone criteria can make sure that a certain milestone arrives before the project is completed, so that one can always see without a doubt whether the next stage can be started. Release criteria retain their justification and significance, because without them, without continuous documentation and without accompanying marketing, there will probably be no product at all in the end. Last but not least, fulfilling release criteria usually leads to processes being set in motion in a completely different place within the company. Often other departments don't even start work until they can be convinced, based on verifiable data, that a product is close to completion and they can plan sensibly. In the following we summarize your article for you.
Man looking through a telescope.

A milestone for marketing

Milestones are of course known from regular project management. They are used in schedules and everyone involved can imagine something about them. Take a building: Here, one milestone would be the granting of the building permit, another the end of the excavation work and another the completion of the shell. Everybody can imagine something underneath. But in software development it is not always that easy and not always that visible. Let's take another look at the example of a marketing campaign. Only a few companies wait until a product is finished before they start marketing. Most of the time, however, they are at least concerned about how marketing should look like. It is a tightrope walk to prepare the marketing exactly enough so that it fits perfectly on the day the product is finished and can simply be let go. Waiting for the campaign when the product is already finished costs time and money. Completing the marketing before the product is completely finished can go wrong and also cost money because steps have to be repeated. The solution to this: A milestone that indicates when marketing can begin.

Criteria for the milestones

So there is now a milestone for the start of the marketing campaign. This needs criteria. If you are working with many release criteria, your milestones can be set at relatively short intervals, for example, every few weeks or months. This is of course related to the total duration of your project or product development and has to be planned in advance. Also, the question of how much of your campaign should run before the release, and how much when the product is already available, plays a role. This is where marketing managers and experts come in, because this in turn depends on the type of campaign and the advertising strategy. A movie, for example, is advertised months before it is released, while a new type of yogurt is only shown in the advertising when the yogurt is actually available for purchase. The situation is similar with software products: There are such and such.

Step by step to milestone criteria

Now let's assume you have a project that is supposed to last a year and you have agreed with the experts that the marketing campaign should start three months before publication. Now the milestone criteria must be defined. As a first step, already in the first month, you have to find out the release criteria of each department, sub-project and program. This will help you find out when the final product will be available. Some of these release criteria may also need to be reformulated so that they make sense together. Now it gets interesting. There is the milestone of when the marketing campaign should start. The people from marketing want the product to be ready by then, so it makes sense to start a campaign. To define that, i.e. when it is "ready enough", you need milestone criteria, because release criteria are not sufficient here.

When is "ready enough"?

So the point in time when the project is "ready enough" is basically your milestone. In order to define and recognize the time exactly, different minima can help. For example, you probably want your MVE (Minimum Viable Experiment) to be completed and your MVP (Minimum Viable Product) and MMFs (Minimum Marketable Features) to be largely in place. This will ensure that your product will definitely work. Also a little customer research and testing should already have been done. The criteria for your milestone can be very different. For example, if the product has a payment function, one of the criteria could be that at least one of the payment methods in this payment function must already work. The criteria can cover all possible functions and determine when your product is "ready enough". At this point, the product is recognizable in its basic functions, testable and tangible and marketable for the marketing department. So now both departments, marketing and development, can continue working on this basis. Of course, marketing is only one example and only one of many areas in which milestone criteria can be helpful, save valuable time and allow better timing.

One more tip: It is best not to work with percentages. The fact that something has to be finished by 80% to be "finished enough" is not a good criterion, because it could be the wrong 80%. Milestone criteria should always be very concrete and clearly recognizable and measurable. A clear yes or no.  Johanna Rothman is convinced that good milestone criteria help teams to concentrate on their tasks and set the focus correctly.
Author: IAPM intern

Keywords: Agile project Management, Milestones, Project Planning, Tip

The IAPM certification

The certification can be taken via a reputable online examination procedure. The costs are based on the gross domestic product of your country of origin.

From the IAPM Blog

Become a Network Official

Do you want to get involved in project management in your environment and contribute to the further development of project management? Then become active as an IAPM Network Official or as a Network Official of the IAPM Network University. 

For better readability, we usually only use the generic masculine form in our texts. Nevertheless, the expressions refer to members of all genders.