The Milestones table is one of the most important in your business plan. It sets the plan into practical, concrete terms, with real budgets, deadlines, and management responsibilities. It helps you focus as you are writing your business plan, and then, the Milestones table and plan-vs.-actual management analysis helps you implement your plan as you grow your business.
Put some bite into your plan and management by listing specific actions to be taken. Each action becomes a milestone. This is where a business plan becomes a real plan, with specific and measurable activities, instead of just a document.
Set as many milestones as you can think of to make it more complete. Give each milestone:
- a name
- a start date
- an end date
- a budget
- a person responsible
- and a department.
Then make sure that all your people know that you will be following the plan, tracking the milestones, and analysing the plan-vs-actual results. If you don’t follow up, your plan will not be implemented.
Sort the milestones
You can sort the Milestones table on Start Date, End Date, Budget, Manager, etc. This sorting is intended to facilitate real management. For example, before a meeting with all managers, sort the Milestones table by date to get all the relevant milestones for that time period. Are you on budget? On time? Do you need to make any corrections?
Sort the Milestones on Manager to highlight the activities of each manager. This can help you identify problem areas…who is on target, who needs support, extra resources, or assertive encouragement.
The value of a plan is measured in its implementation.
The Milestones should be the most important section of the entire business plan. Each marketing and sales-related programme you plan should be listed in the table and explained in the accompanying text, along with relevant details. You want to cement your sales strategy with programmes that make it real.
- How is this strategy to be implemented?
- Do you have concrete and specific plans?
- How will implementation and success be measured?
In the illustration you see columns for evaluating the actual results and the difference between plan and actual results, for each programme.