What are Milestones in Project Management?
November 23, 2022
The milestones, or milestone in English, is a recurring term that you need to know in project management. Find out what it is.
You surely know the game Mille Bornes where you have to collect kilometer markers until you get 1000 km, while avoiding the various pitfalls of the road. This game could be a kind of representation of project management. In English, kilometric terminal is called “ milestone ”. This is the term used by English speakers in project management to determine an important point in the project schedule, which in French is called a milestone.
A milestone can be two things at once:
Milestones are key dates in the execution of a project. They are positioned in the project planning calendar by the project manager and/or by the project sponsor. Milestones allow you to define intermediate objectives, which gives rhythm to the project and helps employees to stay involved and motivated.
The passage of a milestone is an opportunity for a meeting between the project team and the various stakeholders, such as the client, who can thus validate the progress and direction of the work. Milestones generally materialize through a concrete achievement such as the production of deliverables.
During the crossing of a milestone, three actions are carried out:
It is often when the milestones are reached that we decide to continue or stop the project and that we validate the new proposals. The milestone is therefore an essential element in the life cycle of a project.
Namely : the milestones have a short duration, or even zero duration. It is an event, a marker that indicates the end of one step and the start of another.
There is no standard answer to this question because the number of milestones depends on your project and its planning. However, it is imperative to have enough milestones to effectively manage your project, maintain regular communication with stakeholders and avoid the risk of drift, tunnel effect (when the team works on its side without communication with the sponsor) as well as a drop in your team’s motivation.
Also be careful not to have too many milestones in order to avoid too many unnecessary cuts in the progress of the project.
Milestones allow you to divide your project into several stages and let you know when you are moving from one stage to another. It is also a good way to remind you of important project events as well as future deadlines concerning deliverables or supplier deliveries, for example.
Like tasks, milestones are sometimes interdependent and you cannot start a new phase of the project until the previous milestone is completed and validated.
In project management, it is essential to follow the progress of your project and know where you are in your schedule. Milestones in a project work just like mile markers on the road that show you how many miles you’ve already traveled since you started and how many you have left until you reach your final destination. You can thus count the number of milestones already achieved and those that you still have to accomplish until the end of the project.
It is also a good way to communicate with stakeholders about the progress of the project. Indeed, rather than reporting on progress, you just need to show them the number of milestones achieved in the month and those in progress, specifying whether you are on time or behind schedule.
Crossing a milestone is an important moment in the progress of a project and must be a strong act of management. On this occasion, the project manager must set up a ritual to mark the event. Take the opportunity to congratulate your team and celebrate the achievement of a new milestone in the project. You can then simply shake hands with all your employees, organize a meal with the whole team or give them a financial bonus. Whatever you decide, the important thing is to celebrate this new victory in order to keep your team motivated and involved for the rest of the project. This also allows you to develop team cohesion and maintain good relations with your employees.
The most important milestone is the end of the project. It usually happens after a series of tests and revisions, when the project is delivered to the client. This is an opportunity to hold a closing meeting and an assessment, but above all to celebrate the success of the project and the team as it should be.
A milestone is an important event in a project’s schedule. This is the passage from one stage to another, which implies validation internally or by the sponsor of the project. Plan your project and track its progress with milestones.
Finally, don’t forget to celebrate each milestone to keep your team motivated.