But what exactly are project milestones?
How are they different from deliverables or a bunch of tasks?
What are the best practices for identifying project milestones?
In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know about milestones.
What is a project milestone? How are milestones different from deliverables and tasks? Reasons why milestones are critical to project planning. Best practices to identify milestones for a project. How to add a milestone to a project roadmap in Toggl Plan? How to share milestones with clients & stakeholders?
Let’s get started.
What is a project milestone?
A project milestone marks a significant point in time in a project’s life cycle. It could be the start or end of a project. Or it could note the completion of an important phase.
When a project reaches this point in time, the milestone is achieved.
Alternatively, a project milestone can also be defined as a marker that signifies a change in the project’s state.
Project milestones act as markers throughout the project’s course. And ensure that a project stays on track.
Milestones are also effective scheduling tools.
With project milestones, you can break down a large, complex project into smaller phases. This helps deliver projects more predictably.
In summary, a project milestone tells us what the project is supposed to achieve at a pre-set date. It refers to a point in time and not a period. Milestones are about what we want to achieve, not how we achieve it.
Key differences between milestones & other project terms
It’s easy to mix-up project milestones with other project management concepts. So let’s quickly review the differences.
Project milestones vs goals
Goals represent the big picture of the objectives that you wish to achieve with your project. Milestones, on the other hand, are checkpoints on the journey to achieve a project’s goal.
For a new website design project, milestone examples are:
Freezing the style guide, Choosing a website platform, Designing page templates, Adding content, or Promoting the website. Project milestones vs deliverables
Deliverables are the output or the result of the project activities. Milestones are specific events in a project’s life cycle. Some milestones when achieved result in delivery.
For our example web design project, deliverables could be: brand elements, the actual website, and a maintenance service.
Whereas, for the project milestone example, “Freezing the style guide”, the deliverables could be a pdf style guide, brand imagery, etc.
Project schedule vs milestones
The schedule includes all the activities that need to be executed to complete a project. The schedule can be a high-level project roadmap. On the other hand, it can also be a task-level project plan.
Milestones are specific points in time on the project schedule.
For the fictional website design project, the project schedule starts at project kickoff and ends when the website is handed over to the client.
Project milestones vs tasks
Tasks are the activities in your project with a start and an end time. They take time to complete. However, project milestones take no time to complete. They are just signposts to signify the time by which a group of tasks needs to be completed.
Let’s consider the project milestone example of “Freezing a style guide”. To achieve this milestone, the project team will have to complete tasks such as:
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