(from University of Minnesota's Dissertation Calculator)
The key to a good relationship with your advisor, your department, and the University is to understand what they expect of you and what you can expect of them. Norms for behaviors, attitudes, and roles exist and your goal is to work with your advisor to agree on what they are (or at least understand the constraints under which you will be working). You will also need to explore what a dissertation means to your advisor, your department, your discipline, and to the University. Without a clear-cut sense of the mutual expectations and responsibilities, you may find your dissertation process derailed before it has even begun.
Step 1: Seek out & establish necessary support.
Step 2: Negotiate with your advisor/department about what they seek/expect from you.
Step 3: Discuss expectations for the dissertation with your advisor/ department.
Step 4: Generate and complete forms and timeline.