Using Milestones Professional with Atlassian Confluence…
An insanely genius way to find simplicity out of clutter
“Out of clutter, find Simplicity. From discord, find Harmony. In the middle of difficulty lies Opportunity.” -Albert Einstein
It’s no surprise to anyone working at a large company that there are plenty of complex processes. And in the attempts to make things easier to understand, well intended co-workers (myself included) often create PDF files, Microsoft Word documents and PowerPoint presentations to try and bridge the gap. The result is an explosion of scattered data that’s not properly stored or secured…not to mention how difficult it becomes to find in the line of fire.
Allow me to share a recent story while working for a large global software company. First of all, our division is responsible for the ongoing training of 70+ Customer Success Managers. For anyone not familiar with this role, Customer Success Managers (CSM’s) are the glue of any successful organization. They’re responsible for the customer experience across multiple touchpoints (sales, support, services, operations, development, product management, renewals and more). This also means they get constantly bombarded by the above teams’ internal sites, documents, file shares and bookmarks that seem to change every week. And the kicker is, they’re actually required to absorb all the latest data so they can advocate for their clients throughout the entire customer lifecycle. A complex initiative no doubt!
So in our latest onboarding of 20+ new CSM’s, I decided to attend one of the training sessions to brush up on a few internal processes and meet some folks. From the first 10 minutes, I couldn’t help but notice several panicked faces. Don’t get me wrong…the content and instructors were great, but the sheer volume of data being thrown at these guys and gals was staggering. And this was just 1 topic. What they were being asked to comprehend in 3 weeks of training must have felt like a full semester’s worth of coursework from college. Keep in mind many of these CSM’s are recent graduates from top tier colleges and universities like Duke, Michigan, Georgetown, Virginia, North Carolina, Texas, and other elite academic institutions. Obviously, they’re not afraid to learn…but when the content contains a massive amount of detail, is scattered across multiple locations and has limited context to what they covered in previous training sessions, it tends to get overwhelming really fast.
The good news is I was able to step up to the podium and help calm some nerves. I presented a customer lifecycle dashboard that I created using Milestones Professional. It’s a clever, single page timeline/Gantt chart acting as a hub to all the key links within our organization’s internal knowledge base. Consider it a high level map with visual, clickable icons helping CSM’s understand what to do, when to do it, and where to find the content. As I started demonstrating how it can be used, I think I heard a few collective sighs of relief. After the training, I talked to the attendees and honestly heard comments like “this is genius” or my personal favorite…“what you created is insanely helpful!” I guess there really is a fine line between genius and insanity. J I give most of the credit to KIDASA Software’s Milestones Professional and Atlassian’s Confluence. Together, they create an insanely genius way to find simplicity out of clutter.
Customer Lifecycle Dashboard: How it works, the benefits, and tips on creating your own.
How it works: Single click access to the information you need!
CSMs click a lifecycle milestone on the dashboard… …and get specific content from our Confluence page
Likewise, if CSMs click icons in the shaded blue area… …they get help with specific content on that subject
This turns painful knowledge searches and slow responses back to clients into faster and more accurate communication, while simultaneously improving collaboration. CSMs simply add/edit entries as needed.
Create your own dashboard to simplify a complex process:
1. You must own a copy of Milestones Professional 2017 with the latest update.
2. Optional – If you want to publish your dashboard to your organization’s internal knowledge base site, you need access to a content collaboration software such as Atlassian’s Confluence.
- In Milestones, set your date range and date heading type:
- I used a year-long date range (starting with January 2016 and ending with December 31, 2016).
- I created a custom heading to display phases of my organization’s product lifecycle.
- Establish your milestone symbols that will map to your key processes:
- Determine the milestones you want to use for your dashboard. You can choose from 100+ symbols in the Milestones toolbox or you can use bitmap images as symbols like I did.
Here’s what I chose:
- Position symbols on your timeline/bar as needed. If you have a lot of detail you’ll need to adjust your schedule lay out size and/or adjust the position of symbols within a task row to relieve crowding.
- Now add symbol hyperlinks – I added the URLs of the Confluence web pages containing the key content on that particular subject. For example, the “Upgrade” milestone above would link to a Confluence page which discusses the overall upgrade process, including key support documentation.
- Optional – Feel free to add additional symbols on your dashboard (like I did in the lower section shaded in blue). It gives users the help they need.
- Use free form text links for any additional sites/links:
- Publish your dashboard:
- Use the Milestones Professional Internet Publishing Wizard to create the graphic and HTML code.
- The output will consist of an HTML document and a picture of your dashboard.
- Remember where you saved these 2 files…you’ll need them if you want to include your dashboard on your collaboration site. If needed, check: Tools|Program Options|Folders.
- Keep in mind, even if your organization doesn’t have a collaboration site, you can still publish your dashboard as an Adobe PDF file. This is a great way to send co-workers your beautiful dashboard in an email so they can open, view and click to access all those useful hot spots/hyperlinks.
- And if you prefer, you can have co-workers download your dashboard using the free Milestones Professional viewer
- Include your dashboard on your content collaboration/knowledge base site:
- Depending on the internal content collaboration tool you use, you should have a way to insert the HTML code within the page. Here are the HTML Macro instructions from Confluence.
- To put the correct HTML code into the HTML Macro, I took the following steps:
A) I use Internet Explorer as my default browser for Milestones. And when I’ve published my schedule, I can easily go to the View tab in Internet Explorer and choose Source. At that point, I can copy the HTML code and insert it into the HTML Macro for Confluence.
B) Now I upload my dashboard picture/file from Milestones into the Confluence picture library. Then I right click the newly uploaded file and select “copy link location”. Once I’ve done that, I replace the 2 generic file names of my image in the existing HTML code with the actual URL of the file I just uploaded. For example, I replaced the two “G001.jpg” entries in the Milestones HTML code with the following URL:
Now your dashboard is on your company’s knowledge base site and ready for prime time!
Upgrade to Milestones Professional 2017
Click here to Upgrade to Milestones Professional 2017 for only $149 (if you already own any version of Milestones Professional).
To see what has changed, check out our “What’s New in Milestones Professional 2017” page.
August 2017 Tips and Tricks
For these and more, view Tips and Tricks for August 2017
Assign Specific Text to a Symbol
Is there any way that I can assign each toolbox symbol to have a specific text to it or to include the task name next to each symbol automatically so I don’t have to do it manually?
Move one symbol only
When I move one symbol on my schedule, other symbols are moving too. Help! I only want to move one symbol.
What can affect Fill to Status Date?
Bars are not filling to status line. The Bars – Fill to Status Date option on the Dates tab is checked. I have followed the instructions. Any ideas?
Use a Bitmap as a Symbol
How do I convert a picture into a symbol to use in Milestones?
Summary bar not aligning with lower level symbols
The summary bar isn’t always extending out to the latest dates of the lower level symbols. Not sure what is going on.
Number of Vertical Links
How many vertical links can start from a single symbol?
Legend and DataGraph Placement
Is it possible to have a Legend and DataGraph(s) shown at the same time?
For timing charts Heading frequency only goes to 60
We use milestones for schedules and also for machine timing charts. When doing timing charts, we usually use 1 day as equal to 1 second. When cycles are really short, then we use 1 day equal to 1 millisecond, so 1000 days is equal to 1 second. We have a header type (within Date Headings Dialog Box) of Daily 1,2,…30, 31,32,33… Even though the frequency settings allows entry of numbers above 60, it seems to not change anything on the header. So the time breakup in header for frequency of any value above 60 is always 0—-60—120—180…… and is not readable due to everything running together. Is there a way to change this so that the header is 0–250—500—750—1000?
No vertical lines in date headings
We have created a new schedule and in the date headings we have displayed the Months, however there are no vertical lines separating the month titles. I have the vertical lines within the schedule but want the lines in the date headings area too. I have searched high and low…Can you tell me how to add these?
Show curves and bars in DataGraph
I need to create a data graph with both bars and lines on the same DataGraph area. It appears that DataGraphs can either be bar graphs or line graphs, but not a mix. Suggestions?
Why are some symbols not filled?
Why are some of the symbols and connectors on my chart filled in while others are not?
Add tasks from Microsoft Project to an existing schedule
I have a Milestones schedule which I imported from Microsoft Project. Now, I would like to add several tasks to the schedule without re-importing. What’s the best way to do this?
Save version 2017 schedule in an earlier version’s format
My coworkers still have Milestones Professional 2015 and I need to share my schedule with them. How do I do this?
For these and more, view Tips and Tricks for August 2017
Join the Milestones Professional Users LinkedIn Group
For anyone interested, there’s a free Milestones Professional user group on LinkedIn you can join to share best practices, network with other users, and maybe learn some tips along the way from other experienced Milestones users.
To join, head over to the following website and click Join:
Note: This user group is an unofficial group run by Milestones software users, and is not managed by KIDASA Software, Inc. A free LinkedIn account is required to join the group.