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6 Tips for More Effective Project Milestones

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6 Tips for More Effective Project Milestones

6 Tips for More Effective Project Milestones

A post from our Project Management blog

      Written by Jordan James
What would it do to your project planning if every task and decision was given equal importance?  It would be pure chaos, to say the least. Without a way to measure your progress or plan the next stages of your project, you would be lost.

Confused Businessman

Whether you are developing a website for your business or working on creating a new product, making sure the project is completed on time without compromising the overall quality is a rather challenging task. And that's where project milestones can help. They help to reduce the chaos and bring clarity by way of providing actionable goals.

What are project milestones?

Project milestones provide a yardstick to identify and measure the progress of your project. They are strategic tools that help you define the priorities of the project. Milestones take a variety of forms. It could be a task, an event, a decision, a phase of the project, a specific sum of funding, a deliverable or even a deadline. It could be anything that holds some significance to your project.

Once defined, milestones provide a framework for monitoring the progress of your project and the project schedule. This forms the basis of reporting the status of the project.

So what exactly makes for an effective milestone? To help your project planning process a little bit easier, we have collected below our top 6 tips for more effective project milestones.

1) Make them specific

Milestones are not effective unless they are specific, and they also need to be clearly outlined. Anyone looking at a milestone should be easily able to tell what is required in order to reach it. If your milestones aren't specific, you or your team members will have a hard time getting things done. Having clearly defined actionable milestones for every member of your project team will help you reach the finish line much more effectively.

2) Focus on progression

An effective milestone is one that is progressive, one that progresses toward the end of the project journey. Each milestone should pave the way for reaching the next milestone - that's progression, and that is the way for successfully completing your project.

If a milestone at the start of a project is dependent on milestones that are due at the end of a project, you will be wasting a lot of time and your project's progress will be hampered. Once a milestone is completed, you should be able to move on to the next milestone in the process and complete it without difficulties.

3) Define the time-frame

For the best results, always make sure to clearly define the time-frame of each of your milestones. Each milestone should have a start time/date and end time/date. In the absence of these time-frames and concrete deadlines, you will never get anything done. Nip procrastination in the bud by mapping out the entire project journey with time-bound milestones.

4) Make sure they are attainable

Having a time-bound milestone is good, but make sure the milestone can actually be achieved in the given time-frame. If a milestone is too big or too complex for a given timespan, it will inevitably derail off course. If necessary, split a milestone into two smaller but attainable milestones that will give everyone the confidence to reach the finish line comfortably.

Project Milestones

5) Make them easy to understand

Each milestone should be easy to understand. If a milestone is full of jargon, you will find it much more difficult to present it to your clients, or third party organizations responsible for approving your project. An effective milestone is one that is easy to comprehend no matter who is reading it. The language should be easy, clear and simple to avoid confusion or miscommunication.

6) Keep them easily assignable

Each milestone should be assignable. When you assign a milestone to someone, the person should be able to get it done without hassles or depending on someone else. Individualise your milestones so you can minimise chaos and confusion.



Do you have any other tips for more effective milestones that we haven't included in our list? Let us know!

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