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Project Milestones: Do you set them, or do they set you?

“There’s nothing like a deadline to get you focused.”

How many times have we heard that said or maybe even said it ourselves? And even within the context of implementing HR technology. Deadlines are important and necessary to monitor a project's progress and keep it on track. But how are these dates set? And will the deadline allow for reliable results?


OneDigital's HR Technology experts were asked to engage with a project after the third time a go-live was missed to try and determine what was going wrong. After some investigation, we learned that the project sponsor would meet with all parties—internal stakeholders, project managers, implementation partners, etc., and then would set a go-live date.

When asked how the project deadline date was being determined, the answer from the project sponsor was very telling. After all inputs were considered, the new date was set arbitrarily. The rationalization was if the date were set earlier than the plan predicted, the project team would stay focused and rise to the occasion to meet the date! That may sound good on paper, but the execution left something to be desired.

The result of this approach was not only missed go-live dates and almost all other milestones. It also left the project team discouraged, knowing the timeframes were unrealistic.

A New Approach

A OneDigital seasoned project manager had the opportunity to review the project plan from the implementation partner and then coordinate with the internal client-side team. After only a few calibration meetings, a new, realistic project plan was set, and a new go-live date was established. The project sponsor was very gracious and supported the new milestones.

With hope restored that the timeline was realistic, the team went to work and indeed met the next established go-live date!
The moral of the story, don’t let the dates set you up to fail by picking dates based on feel not fact.

Instead, set the dates based on a detailed project plan, manage that plan, adjust where necessary, and make your project successful!

Want to learn more about what approach to HR Technology implementation is right for you? Read: HR Technology: Big Bang vs. Phased Implementations.