Open Source Project Management with Salesforce & Milestones PM

Salesforce.com is an extremely flexible development platform.  Any seasoned admin or developer could create a basic project management tool in short order.

But another benefit of the Salesforce platform is that you don’t need to re-invent the wheel.  Often, someone has already created such a tool.  That’s the case with Milestones PM, a free offering from the Salesforce AppExchange.

Licensing

The good news is that Milestones PM is a free app, courtesy of Salesforce Labs.  Salesforce Labs is a program that lets salesforce.com engineers, professional services staff and other employees share AppExchange apps they’ve created with the customer community. Inspired by employees’ work with customers of all sizes and industries, these apps range from simple utilities to entire vertical solutions.

SalesforceLabs

Salesforce Labs apps are free to use, but are not official salesforce.com products.  They should be considered community projects – these apps are not officially tested or documented by Salesforce.  Milestones PM is an “unmanaged package”, meaning the app is free, but not supported by Salesforce or a commercial entity.

Important Note: while open-source tools are great for the budget, there are certainly trade-offs.  You may spend quite a bit of time with training, hunting for documentation, and working around system limitations.  These limitations often don’t exist with commercially-supported products.  But for a small PMO or non-profit, the price considerations might justify the additional legwork.

 

Installation and Setup

Milestones PM is very simple to get running.  The org admin simply needs to load it from the Salesforce AppExchange.  After that, we’d recommend walking through a portion of the sample project found here.  Notice that (at the time of this writing) the documentation is

To Be Continued…

Despite the limited documentation, Milestones PM has a solid basis of project management objects.  Milestones PM is modeled after this hierarchy:

  • Project
    • Milestone
      • Task
        • Time Items
        • Expense Items

 

If you are familiar with the customary “tab hopping” experience of Salesforce, you should be successful in entering a sample Project.  Alternatively, you can explore the sample project to get the lay of the land.

 

Features

Use Google Charts to visualize progress.
Use Google Charts to visualize progress.

For a free tool, Milestones PM has several nice features.  It includes functions to chart progress, dashboards for assigned tasks, and validation rules to prevent invalid dates.  Milestones PM is a great “starter pack” for a small PMO.  (In fact, we think the app should have been named “PM Starter Pack”, after the highly successful “Non-profit Starter Pack”.)

 

Best Practices

We’d recommend installing this app and testing it out before committing to a full deployment.  You may need assistance with data loading and customizing reports.  Make sure to get your Admin involved, or reach out to a provider like Cloud Notions for support.

Once you are confident with the tool, conduct a limited pilot to make sure it fits with your PMO methodology.  This will help ensure your stakeholders understand the tool and have input on any requested changes.

Lastly, we recommend an iterative approach.  Begin by keeping it simple and iterate based on the needs of your company.

Keep it simple!

 

Support & Customization

While the app is open source, there are options for support.  Milestones PM+ offers expanded features and premium support packages.

Cloud Notions would be happy to discuss this free PM tool with your PMO team, as well as help compare with any other tools.  We offer strategy consulting and implementation services to help ensure your project management efforts step off on the right foot.  Contact us today!