Is there a better way of doing milestone reviews?

Here are some of the issues with traditional milestone reviews (especially in Acquisitions) as I have experienced them in the past:

  1. They are very hard to schedule for in-person meetings
  2. Engineers and other involved parties rarely review the documents ahead of time
  3. Decision makers never review the documents, always relying on the engineers or involved parties
  4. Do VTCs do a better job because it alleviates scheduling challenges?
  5. Would web meetings be better?
  6. How about a purely electronic concurrence?
  7. Can government infrastructure accommodate more “virtual” reviews?

I’ll try and go into a little more detail about each.

Scheduling is always an issue in a challenging operational environment, especially because milestone review require sign-off from stakeholders, several of which are typically an executive of some type. Getting the right people in the same room alone is a major stumbling block.

The necessary reviews of documents presents at least two major challenges:

  • First being people actually reviewing documents. In several government agencies I’ve worked with the executive stakeholder had some underling do this for them, and got a yea or nah notice ahead of time. This actually worked somewhat well, but during debates of issues made it clear the voter had little knowledge of the issues at hand.
  • If you have a May 27th milestone review, you might have to get deliverables produced and distributed 2 weeks ahead of time. If you have to do several pre-release reviews and approvals, you could be required to produce a final deliverable a month to six weeks before the review.

VTCs can help with colocation for review purposes, by enabling people to be in different facilities or even regions of the country. But often times the collaboration isn’t the same, and the lack of simple tools for VTC at each person’s office or desk complicates matters.

Web meetings are solid idea in many government entities when the nature of their work is not of a classified nature, but all my clients are in the Intelligence Community and we’re just not there yet with web meetings on those specific networks.

I have seen as a contractor on a few contracts where electronic reviews and “signatures” were done totally via a coordination system. This seemed fairly productive and useful, but not widely done in my experience.

And several of the last items point to the government infrastructure often times being a limiting factor. Finding a conference room in a government building alone these days is nearly impossible. Let alone having enough bandwidth and feature rich tools for collaboration

What do those on GovLoop think? Are there any ways you’ve found to improve milestone reviews?

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