Milestones are the irreducible minimums of your entire programme - they are the building blocks around which your projects and tasks should be developed. They are the ultimate goals that need to be achieved - with the timelines based around being ready for your opening ceremony or the first day of the event.
So with that deadline set in stone, how do you go about beginning to develop your baseline milestone plan that leads up to that point?
- The first waypoints are the significant chronological milestones leading up to your event - competition schedule finalised, one year to go, six months to go, closing ceremony, etc. In a long planning cycle, these points will help you break down your work into more manageable chunks.
- If you are a newly created organising committee for this major event, it is vital that you get your governance in order. Build milestones around appointing your major hires (C-level), setting an initial budget benchmark and building in contingency, and establishing your risk register. Achieving these early milestones will give your organisation a solid framework.
- Then, confirm a timeline for any external stakeholder milestones. These might include signing hosting agreements, venue use agreements, and host broadcaster agreements. Your major event will have a huge footprint and working with external parties can bring risk, delay and frustration. Once you know the important milestones, you can begin those important external collaborations.
- Next, which milestones do you expect every internal function to hit? A good example here might be a deadline for finalising functional operating plans, or confirming a readiness schedule that all functions must adhere to. Establishing what you expect from your functional areas gives the whole organisation clarity.
- Finally, let each individual function decide their own major milestones. In marketing, for example, that might be 'Brand identity established', 'Event website go-live', or 'Digital strategy confirmed'. Feed these into the existing milestone map and be flexible as functions begin to understand how other functions want to operate, and how their work relates. Which other functions need to be involved in some of your major milestones?
The next step is to be aware of the risks that threaten these milestones. Milestones guide your major event planning - but uncertainty can derail it. Once you have established this milestone plan, take time to consider where there might be risks, and be flexible in building contingency and mitigation plans, and adjusting milestone timelines (where possible) accordingly.
Learn more about how WeTrack can boost the planning of major events and organisations in sport. Or, watch a short introductory video to WeTrack where you can learn about the operational challenges that we help to combat.