A project plan is like a map, it charts the progress of a plan. On training courses for project managers you will learn exactly how you can plan out your project, from mapping out the tasks to the dependencies and task owners, through all of the stages of the project to the conclusion. However, there is one thing that it is really important to ensure you add into your project plan, something that is often forgotten, and this is your milestones.
What is a project milestone?
In order to be able to identify your milestones and add them to your project plan it is important to be clear exactly what constitutes a milestone. A milestone is a marker for your project, it is something that indicates a stage or change in development. These are important components that will help to show the key events in your project and map any forward steps that you will need to take.
These milestones are way markers on the course of your project, and they help to make sure that the project stays on track. If you do not have the project milestone tracking built into your project, then all you will be able to monitor is tasks and this won’t necessarily show if you are on track with the goals of the project. When considering the milestones for your project it is important to understand the difference between these and the tasks. Tasks are the things that you will need to do in order to get to your milestone, however they are not in themselves milestones.
Examples of project milestones
Milestones are the things that assist when it comes to keeping you on schedule. They identify major events, decisions, dates, and deliverables. Here are some of the more common milestones you may want to include in your project plan.
- Beginning and end dates for different phases on your project
- Key deliverables
- Approvals from clients and stakeholders
- Important presentations and meetings
- Key outages and dates that may have an impact on your timeline
These milestones in your project do so much more than show the progress that is being made, they can also assist you when it comes to communicating where exactly you are up to with the project and what is happening.
Training for PMs will suggest that things like Gantt charts are a good way in which you can in fact track these milestones. They offer a very easy way in which at just a glance you can see major deliverables and dates. This information is then very easy for anyone with access to the Gantt chart to see quickly and at any moment.
It is a good idea to sit down at the beginning of any project and identify what your milestones might be so that you can plan them out properly. This will allow you to monitor the progress of your project effectively. Deadlines, even the mini ones that are linked to your milestones can really help to make a project, particularly a larger one, more manageable.