What are project milestones in project management?

June 27, 2019 By

Plans and schedules are not just for those who think strategically and plan ahead. In a professional environment, plans are important to list out tasks and highlight project timelines. With an accurate measurement of the different timelines, the assessment of the project progress can be done better.

project milestones

What is a milestone in project management?

Project milestones are key events that mark parts of the project life cycle and marks the targets that are to be reached in that time period. This zero duration task, usually carried out by project managers, highlights the key achievements that have been made in the project cycle.

They’re an indication of your teams’ performance and how the project is progressing. The complete milestone schedule can also help map the way forward, helping you plan tasks ahead to fit the timeline.

As a project manager, these landmarks can be your friend. You can give both yourself and your team a sense of direction.

Some project milestones examples include the start or end, or major decisions that are to be taken during the schedule. You can give detailed updates to senior management, and show them the progress that your team has made in the task cycle. Every achievement made serves to encourage your team members to remain productive and move on to the next task in line.

Therefore, the key learning for you has to be how to use these goals to your advantage. From knowing when and where to how frequently to use them, there is a lot that goes into using these markers efficiently.

So, what do you do to make sure that you’re using them the right way?

Key milestone indicators in project management

Milestone frequency

One of the important things to consider while setting these up includes how to space them out throughout the timeline of the project. Let’s suppose your company chooses these goals every two weeks. There are chances that this timebox may not suit your project cycle.

The best way to decide on your project plan milestones, in this case, is by using situational judgement, since no one is more familiar with the project’s particulars than you.

For months in the project schedule which have a lot of activities going on, there will be many stages where you think you should put in a goal for the project.

During stages of review or execution, on the other hand, there won’t be many activities apart from making reports or making minor changes in the schedule. Therefore, you can expect that critical landmarks will be far in between during these phases.

Keeping your project milestone chart flexible would also give you more authority and freedom in the long run. You can make changes easily when the project schedule changes.

Do make sure you communicate these turning points well in advance to all the team members. This will help them plan their activities accordingly.

Timing

To figure out where key project milestones should be put, you need to ask yourself the following questions:

When does the project start and end? – Needless to say, the first two major turning points of your project are the beginning and end of it. Keep these two points in mind while putting down the main landmarks on paper.

What are the deadlines? – This would not include you or your team’s personal deadlines or deliverables. Instead, these would include the most strategic points where you need to take a decision for your project. They will be linked invariably to major deliverables to the client, or payment for your work done.

How do I plan milestones while forecasting risks? – Project schedules are constrained by staff availability and how skills are distributed across multiple projects. Any changes made, therefore, ultimately impacts the number and type of milestones expected to be completed.

Therefore, make sure that you take employee schedules and workloads into account when planning out your timelines. Put in a stage of review in your project cycle, which would help you make changes in different stages if required.

Other key milestone indicators to keep in mind

Long-term visibility: Visibility of the nearest and long-term project goals are important to make them work properly. When the different landmarks are easily identified by upper management, your team will be motivated to put in good work. They can also work as a standard for the kind of work that is put in by your team members.

Project landmarks: This becomes important when assessing the performance as well. With each important goal that has been completed, it is also important that they are completed on the planned time period. This can be an important factor during the review of the employee’s performance.

When you are reviewing the performance of the team, make sure you are also judging how much time is taken to complete the particular task.

Project review: Close monitoring of the milestone list on project management will also decide the fate of your team’s work. It is not just enough to set goals and review the progress when the time is up. Intermediate checks on the progress in the different tasks can also help to make good progress in the project.

In agile workplaces, where scrum and Kanban processes are being used, for example, employees can check their own progress after each sprint. Roadblocks are identified better in this way. You can plan and execute some quick-fix changes when required so that everything stays on track, and goals are met.

In order to make the most of your project landmarks, it is best to include technology in your planning process. A resource management software would help you maintain project timelines with no difficulty at all.

Resource allocations and work forecasts are based on Gantt charts, which are easily customisable, and accurately displays how resources have been utilised. Analytical reports can also be prepared at any stage of the project progress for easier communication.

Sign up for a free trial of Saviom’s Enterprise Resource Management tool today, and simplify your workload with better timelines right away!

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Emon Dastidar

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