Best Practices

Project Milestones: What are they? (With 5 Project Milestone Examples)

Jonathan Friedman
May 1, 2021
Project Milestones: What are they? (With 5 Project Milestone Examples)

Are you looking to understand what are project milestones? Or, are you looking for project milestone examples? If you answered yes to either question, then you’ve come to the right place.


If you're a project manager, then one of the essential strategies you can use is implementing project milestones. They work like checkpoints within your project timeline, helping you identify how far you've gotten in your project and where you need to go.


But you might be wondering, "What do project milestones look like? And how do I determine what a milestone is?"


You don't have to worry. In this article, we'll provide you with project milestone examples. We'll also go over what a milestone is and how you can identify a project milestone.


After covering all this, we'll share a secret about how to best map your milestones. 


Below is everything we will cover. Feel free to skip ahead.



What is a project milestone?


A milestone is a checkpoint you can use to identify when you've completed tasks, groups of tasks, or significant events as you go through them during your project timeline. 


It's only when you accomplish a notable task that you arrive at a milestone. This might include:



Why project milestones are important


One of the reasons project milestones are important is that they ensure that your team (and your business) is going in the right direction. But that isn't the only reason why milestones are essential. Here are some additional reasons why they matter:



How to identify a milestone in a project management


Now that you know what milestones are and why they matter, you need to know how to identify a project milestone. A milestone is a significant incident that occurs during the life cycle of a project.


Here are some common examples of significant project milestones:



You might be wondering: "So, does any significant incident meet the project milestone definition?" No, it doesn't. For it to meet this definition, it needs to be directly related to the project you're completing.


Other significant events might be useful for your business, but they aren't project milestones.


Examples of milestones in project management


Now that we've reviewed how to identify project milestones, we'll move on to providing you with some project milestone examples. It helps to break this up into the different events that people usually consider to be project milestones. They are:



Now we'll go into each of these in detail, using project milestone examples to illustrate them.


Project milestone example #1: Project approval


The approval of a project is usually the first milestone you reach in a project's life cycle. For example, once senior management or a project stakeholder has approved the project, this counts as the project milestone's approval.


This is because this is a moment when the project has been greenlighted. After this, you and your team can start working on the project.


Project milestone example #2: Requirements review


The next project milestone that usually occurs is the review of requirements. When you're accomplishing this project milestone, you review the project's plan closely with your clients. When doing this, you'll determine what the requirements of the project are.


Once this has all been approved, this project milestone has finally been completed. Then, you'll move on to the beginning of working on the project.


Project milestone example #3: Design approval


Once you've reviewed the requirements and finalized them, it's time to start with the next project milestone. First, you and your team need to create the design for your project. Then, you need to present it to the stakeholder or client.


They will likely come back to you asking you to change it.

There might be quite a lot of back and forth during this time, and many changes requested.


Finally, you'll reach a version design that the stakeholder or client is happy with. When this occurs, the plan has yet been approved. It is only at this moment that the project milestone is reached.


Project milestone example #4: Milestones within the project phase


Now, you're finally ready to start work on the project itself. You and your team are doing this by implementing and building the solution you designed during the last step. However, the work involved in your project isn't one drawn-out, prolonged activity.


Projects are usually split up into different phases. These might include "the testing phase" or "the development phase."


In order to stay organized, it helps to create milestones for each project phase. One milestone occurs at the start of the project phase, while the other surfaces at the end of the project phase.


It makes sense, right? Not only does this help you keep track of your project as you carry out each phase, but it is also a natural, intuitive way of setting up milestones.


Project milestone example #5: Project closure sign-off


Picture this: your team has finally finished creating the product—and now, the product is finally ready after rigorous inspection and testing. You may be tempted to celebrate, but it's not yet the time for that.


First, you have to present the product to the client or stakeholders.

If they're happy with what you've presented them with, then they'll approve the product.


You've done it! You've finished the project! Now you can celebrate with some bubbly after having reached the last milestone.


How to create a project milestone


Now that we’ve gone through common project milestone examples, you might be wondering how to create them for your project. You might also be curious about how to use them. This will involve four steps.

How to create a project milestone


Step 1: Create the goal for your project.


First of all, you need to create a goal for your project. If you don't have this goal, you don't have an objective for you and your team to work toward. This can create confusion along the way. It's like getting in your car to drive somewhere far away without a map!


It's best practice to document your project's goals and objectives in a project charter. Fortunately, TrueNxus has the only project charter template built into its project management software.


This makes it possible to split your goal up into targets. Once you have these targets, you can split those up into manageable, smaller building blocks.


This way, you have specific small steps to take along the way. Let's explore that a little next.


Step 2: Use tasks and subtasks to structure your project.


To keep your project from going off-track, you need to have a structured and detailed project management plan. The best way of doing this is by dividing your project up into tasks. Then, you'll divide these tasks up into subtasks.


This might feel a bit overwhelming. However, if you use project management software, this can help.


Look for a project software that allows you to track the status of the different tasks and subtasks. This way, you can stay on top of things. A software with checklists can help, too.


For small tasks, this makes it easy to mark that they're done.


Step 3: Assign the milestones.


Once you know what the goal, tasks, and subtasks of your project are, you can work on the next part: planning your project. First, you should organize the project tasks into groups. Each group should relate to each project phase.


Now, we'll move onto milestone planning. To do it effectively, you need to:



You're doing is identifying the types of tasks that we covered in the Project Milestones Examples section. Once you've identified these tasks, you need to assign milestones to them.


This sounds easy. But is it? It can be challenging to keep your milestone list neat and organized.


Once again, project management software can help. This will help you with your milestone project management. With the right software, you can add the milestones within each milestone task in only a couple of clicks.


Step 4: Clearly map your milestones with a Gantt Chart.


Once you know what all your milestones are, it's time to map them out. You might be asking, "Do you mean a project milestone template or timeline?" Well, not exactly. Those are a little outdated in 2021.

There's a better solution you can use: a Gantt Chart. A Gantt chart is a visual representation of your entire project. With a Gantt chart, you can easily see:



You'll also be able to see every minor and critical milestone within your project. However, it may seem a bit overwhelming to deal with such a complicated chart. That's why it's crucial to project management software.


The right software will provide you with a Gantt Chart tool that's easy to use.


Common misconceptions about project milestones


There are many misconceptions about project milestones out there. If you've found yourself feeling a bit confused while reading this article, it's a good idea to clarify what some of these misconceptions are. This way, you'll set up your project milestones properly.


1. Is a Milestone a Goal? No!


First of all, it's essential to know that a milestone is not a goal. Goals refer to things that happen in the future, while milestones refer to something you've already accomplished. Milestones are what bring you closer to achieving your goals.


2. Is a Milestone a Task? No!


Tasks are smaller objectives you have that will eventually lead to the completion of a milestone. Tasks are actionable items, and you usually allot a time estimate to them. Milestones, on the other hand, don't have time estimates assigned to them.


3. Is a Milestone a Deliverable? No!


A deliverable is what you get when you have gotten a quantifiable result. This might be, for example, the final creation of a service or product. A milestone, on the other hand, is a moment within the lifecycle of a project.


Conclusion


Now that we've provided you with project milestone examples, you should have a pretty good idea of what milestones are. To review, they are important events that occur while working on a project so that the project is successful.


To use milestones most effectively, you need to use the right organizational strategies, such as splitting them into tasks and subtasks.

If you're ready to equip your team with the best cloud-based project management software, then check out TrueNxus. We help teams like yours maximize their productivity and efficiency to deliver quality products to your clients faster. Sign up for your free trial today.