A project milestone is a task of zero duration that shows an important achievement in a project. The milestones should represent a clear sequence of events that incrementally build up until your project is complete.
Project milestones are a way of knowing how the project is advancing, especially if you’re not familiar with the tasks being executed. They have zero duration because they symbolize an achievement, or a point of time in a project. Since a milestone’s start and end date depends on a task’s start and end date, task association is a major feature of a milestone.
What Are Project Milestones I Can Understand?
Not everyone is a project manager in the construction field, but most are at least familiar with the steps involved in building a new home. When building a home from the ground up, you’re likely to work off a list that resembles this:
- The floors will be finished on Monday
- The roof will be completed on November 1st
- The gas installation will be connected at the end of the month
Think of each of the above as a milestone—or a clear sequence of events that build up until your home/project is complete.
As you’ve probably noticed, we intuitively talk about project milestones, not tasks, because this is how we understand the process. When creating milestones for your own projects, think of the house as the main deliverable, you as the project manager, and your friends and family as the stakeholders. If you’re planning your first project or simply need a refresher, some typical milestones include project approval, requirements review, and final approval.
What Are Project Milestone Best Practices?
When planning your schedule, it’s a good idea to start with several project milestones at once. From there, estimate their completion date and compare it with the actual completion date. Milestones should be the minimal points of control in the project for those who are not familiar with it, such as high-level sponsors, stakeholders, and executives in the organization.
As a project planning best practice, place key milestones in the schedule to better manage a stakeholder’s expectations. This practice will help you define a dashboard for all projects, identify the milestones that have been reached and those that are lagging behind and manage expectations of those that are involved in the project.