The project life cycle contains many decisive moments. The project team, together with the Project Manager and stakeholders, answers the question of whether a particular stage of the project has been completed. Have all acceptance criteria been met? Does something still need improving or is it possible to move on? These moments are marked by milestones – beginnings and endings.
Milestones in a project – table of contents:
- History of milestones
- Role of milestones
- Setting milestones
- Milestones in a project – summary
Each milestone to date marks an important point on the project implementation map. It includes the start of a project, a team meeting, the signing of a contract, or the completion of an important stage of testing accompanying the implementation of a product or service. But why is it important to define them as early as the project planning stage?
History of milestones
The idea of a milestone – the name and symbol of a key moment in a project – was taken from the practice of the ancient Romans. They marked the extent of their civilization with milestones, and at the same time mapped the territory over which they traveled.
The Romans erected stone columns along roads at regular distances, evenly every mile. They served not only to mark the route but also to show the distance from Rome or the capital of the province in which they were deployed. Analogously, the project’s symbolic milestones show how much work is already behind us and give a picture of the road leading up to the task.
The role of milestones
A milestone marks a critical moment on the road leading from initiation to the project goal. Therefore, like Roman signposts, milestones in a project cannot happen too often. This is because they serve several key functions in a project:
- provide an opportunity for debriefing – the achievement of a checkpoint is often combined with a team meeting, during which team members talk about their observations on the progress of their work and consider how to improve cooperation in the team,
- become a powerful motivational tool – because milestones mark short- and medium-term objectives, they motivate more effectively than a distant goal guiding the completion of the entire project. They also allow one to realize how much has already been accomplished,
- present the progress of the project – very often the completion of a milestone is accompanied by sending stakeholders information or a report on the status of the project.
So how do you set milestones with the right volume and frequency? There are no universal rules here, but when determining them, the software in which we create the project schedule and plan comes in really handy.
- Objectives – Milestones are easiest to extract if we start by creating a long list of the most important tasks, and then group them into larger wholes carried out at a similar time. In this way, we will isolate objectives and the moment of their achievement will allow us to set a milestone.
- Key Tasks – First of all, pay attention to milestones to signify critical tasks without which the project cannot continue. That’s why it’s crucial not only to define what to accomplish for a milestone to have it, but also to define a contingency plan that will provide a way out in case any milestone is missed.
- Team commitment – It usually takes the whole team to achieve a well-defined milestone.
- Time distance – the achievement of successive milestones should proceed fairly evenly for the project, both for their motivational effect and the rhythm of the team.
The completion date for each milestone is an important tool for managing the project, enhancing team motivation and monitoring work progress. Choose them carefully and define them well. This will ensure that each milestone achieved will feature as a celebration of the team’s success, as well as the closing of an important phase of the project opening up the next area of task completion.
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The most important questions
Do all milestones need to be included in the project schedule?
Yes, the schedule should include all milestones. These are the most important points to determine whether the project is on time and whether the solution being developed meets the acceptance criteria.
Getting started with project management:
- What is a project?
- What is project management?
- How to manage projects?
- Project management methods
- Types of projects
- 4 examples of projects
- Prioritization of projects
- Areas of project activity
- Definition of success in project management
- Why use project management software?
- How to choose the best project management software?
- Overview of project management software
- Project life cycle
- What is the project vision for?
- Project goal. What is it and how to define it well?
- Project initiation phase - what to pay attention to?
- The domain of planning in project management
- What is a project schedule and what is it for?
- How to use milestones in a project?
- Project execution
- How to prepare a successful project contingency plan?
- Importance of project closure
- Project failure. 5 reasons why projects fail
- 4P of management: project, product, program and portfolio
- Most important tasks and responsibilities of the Project Manager
- Most useful project manager skills
- How to become a project manager?
- 5 books every project manager should read
- How to set up a project team?
- Work breakdown structure - how to delegate work in a project?
- How to lead a team during hybrid work?
- Challenges project managers face when working with a team
- Types of project meetings
- Project monitoring. What parameters to watch?
- How to write a compelling
- How to define the scope of a project and avoid scope creep?
- Feasibility study – can we implement this project?
- Risk analysis in projects and tools to facilitate it
- How to create a project charter?
- What is a stakeholder register?
- Gantt chart in project management planning
- How to create a project budget?
- Time management in project
- How to create a project risk register?
- Project risk management strategies
- Project marketing
- Sources and areas of change in the project
- Project management change models
- What's after Agile? Methods in project management