Use a milestones table to plan what’s actually going to happen. I have a simple example here. It’s not much more than a list of what’s supposed to happen, when it starts, when it finished, what’s the budget, who’s in charge, and — in this example, at least — which department is responsible. To me it’s the most important table in a business plan, because it’s so obviously important for tracking progress and making your planning part of your management.

You don’t need to get sophisticated with the milestones. A good list is enough.

Using simple software (meaning Microsoft Excel, Apple iWork, Lotus 1-2-3, and of course, Business Plan Pro), you can sort the list by date, by manager, by department, so you can, for example, use these milestones as agenda setters for the review meetings. Sort by manager to set the discussion points when you work with the people on your team to set expectations and follow up by reviewing results.

When and if you’re thinking about plan document output, a set of milestones makes a good chart, like the one below.

This is the bread and butter of real business planning. You can’t build implementation unless you put it into meaningful steps. Then, of course, you have to follow up on it, make it happen. Management is setting expectations and following up on results.

Tim BerryTim Berry

Tim Berry is the founder and chairman of Palo Alto Software and Follow him on Twitter @Timberry.