Understanding the Project Milestones and how to set them?

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by StarAgile

May 18, 2022
Category Project Management


When you are working on a project as a project manager, you have so many things to overlook and there are things that are very crucial. So, to make sure that you are not overlooking anything, having project milestones can be very helpful. With so many practices and terminologies involved in the project and its management, learning about the milestone in the project is very much needed. So, to make sure that you are well aware of it and know how to utilize it in the given project, we have illustrated milestones in the project below in this article. After reading the article, you will be able to understand all about these milestones, common examples of milestones in the project, how you can set them, and the advantages of using the milestones in the project. So, let us begin first with what is a milestone in a project management?

What is Milestone in Project Management?

The milestone in the project is the specific points in the project and its life cycle which are used to measure the overall progress of the project which is working towards a specific goal at a particular time. They can be simply defined as the signal posts that mark the remarkable points in the project. This could be the start date or the end date of the project, some reviews or inputs that are needed, submission of major reports and deliverables, etc. They mark the important events in the project and they are the task of zero duration. They can be used for the accurate estimation of the tasks that come in the project. When defined in the project planning phase, they can set the route for the whole project.

Mostly, they are a sequence of the things that are happening in the project till the project reaches the finish line. When you are not familiar with the actual tasks that are going on in the project, the milestone in the project gives a fair idea about the health and progress of the project. They tell how advanced the project is going and what is the current state of the project. Using the milestone will make sure that the planning, scheduling, and communications are done in a clear way. Using the milestones that are based on the real world and also possible to achieve is very useful and this will help the team to achieve the goal that they have been working towards. Now let's see what are the common examples that you can have for the milestone so that you can have a better understanding of these and implement them in the project.

When to Set Project Milestones and What are Project Milestone Examples?

The milestones for the projects are usually set in the planning phase of the project but they are updated as the project progresses. As mentioned, they work as the post sign which helps in checking the health of the project and making sure that using these reference points, major events and pending decisions are taken on time. The team involved in the project will be able to see the whole life cycle of the project and work as per the requirement.

If we look at the typical milestones in the project, some of the most common milestones that are present in the project are:

  1. The beginning and the end date for the project
  2. Budget checks and other submissions and approvals from the stakeholders help in mobbing the project to the next phase.
  3. Tests and inspection of the tasks in the project and key deliverables
  4. The final submission or go-live of the project remains the most important milestone in any project.

The milestones in the project depend on the project but the above-mentioned are some of the common types that are mostly present in all the projects. The project manager can set the milestone as per the requirements of the stakeholders and the project goals. The launch of the product is also one of the major milestones that are defined in the project. Also, these milestones can be the mark for four phases of the project: initiation, planning, implementation, and closing.

Importance of Milestones in Project Management?

Now that we have understood the project milestone meaning, it is time to see why these project milestones are needed in the project anyway. Below are some of the points and benefits for why they are needed in all the projects.

Monitor Deadlines

One of the major benefits that come with having milestones in the project is that it will help in making sure that deadlines are met. There are many complex projects and they are bound to go off track and miss a deadline. But with milestones, the project manager can make sure that with core milestones the deadlines are met and the project is in good shape.

Know the Risks

There could be several bottlenecks that the team might face when they start working on the project. But when the milestones are set for the project in the planning phase, it helps in calculating the risk associated with it and taking proper measures as per the requirement beforehand.

Know about the Critical Dates

Following the plan throughout the project can be made smoother when the milestones are defined for the particular task. The dates defined to complete the task will help in completing the tasks on time and overall making sure that the project timeline is not disturbed. The important dates can be easily spotted with the project milestones.

Better Allocation of Resources

Having the allocation of the resource so as to get the maximum benefits from the available resources is the major task in the project. With milestones in the project, managers are able to distribute the resource efficiency that helps in delivering the project on time and on budget as well. Furthermore, the payment to vendors can be done in an efficient manner with the milestones.

Involvement of Stakeholders

Whenever a milestone is approaching, the stakeholders tend to get more involved in the project. So, this can be used to take approvals and new talks with them and make sure that everyone is in the project.

Accountability and Readability

The milestones defined in the project will make sure that the team is aware of who is responsible for what tasks. This way, the tasks will be done with accountability. Furthermore, the readability of the task will also increase as everyone will be able to see what are the milestones for the project.

Having milestones can change how things are going on in the project. They can be used as measures of success and this will help in boosting the overall confidence in the team. This will keep things on track and make sure that everyone is giving their 100% to the project. There are various ways that you can use to share those milestones with your stakeholders. You can master all the important project management concepts with our PMP certification training which will help you prepare and crack the PMP exam.

What is the Best Way to Create Milestones in the Project?

Being familiar with the milestone definition in project management is not enough as you should know how to create the milestones in the project. The below steps and practices can be used when you need to create milestones for the team.

Step 1: Create your Project Goals

One of the major things that are needed when you are looking to define the milestones in the given project is to have defined project goals. You can work without the objective of the project. This will make sure that you have an incremental sequence of milestones that helps you to reach that goal in the end. With the clear goal of the project, you can work with the team to define various milestones that would lead to that goal.

Step 2: Define Task and Sub-tasks

One of the best practices that you should follow in the project is to make sure that you are dividing the project into tasks and sub-tasks. These tasks can be milestones for some work. These various tasks will ensure that you have distributed the project into smaller parts and it will be easier to manage. However, it may seem tedious in the planning phase, but with time, these task helps in knowing where the project is headed.

Step 3: Assign Those Milestones

Now that you have provided the structure to your project, it is time to assign those milestones to the concerned person. This will increase the accountability of that milestone and with the right resources, you can make sure that you are achieving the milestones on time. This may sound simple, but efficient allocation is needed to make sure that the purpose of having milestones is completed.

Step 4: Map Those Milestones

Now that the milestones are ready, it is time to map them to your project. There are various tools that are available in the market, but one of the most commonly used tools that you can use is Gantt Chart for those milestone mapping. Using this chart, you can give the total visualization of your project with the defined milestone. In this, you can also mark the milestones that have high priority and which are minor milestones. This way, this mapping can be very helpful in achieving the milestones.

Conclusion

Here on this page, you have learned about milestone meaning in project management. Milestones give a sense of achievement and the team will be motivated to work towards them and complete them. With the right tools in your pockets, you will be able to create, visualize as well as complete all the milestones on time. As defined above, there are numerous benefits of having milestones in the project. Smart project managers will always have a bucket of milestones set in their project so that they can have good progress in the project. Always remember to have key events as the milestones in the project.

Well, now you have familiarized yourself with the major points about milestones, if you are looking to improve your knowledge on project management and make a mark in the industry, then going for PMP certification would be the best way. The project management professional certification holds a great value and will help in getting the dream job you have always wanted.

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