What Is a Milestone List?

Milestones mark important events and progress in a process with specific dates. Milestone lists can be used for things such as:

  • Scheduling
  • Business communications
  • Reporting.

Because they are specific points in time, they should not be given a duration time when added to a project schedule. A milestone marks a specific moment, not a range of time. Some milestones are more historic in nature, marking a time you want to remember or be encouraged by. Other milestone types act as incentives or goals for new progress and projects.

Milestones should be treated as achievements and are always associated with a specific task that was completed. The start and the end dates of a milestone depend on the start and end date of the task it is marking. Aspects of a milestone list might include the:

  • Scope baseline
  • Organizational process assets
  • Enterprise environmental factors.

These achievements don't necessarily always need to point to pivotal points of a project or the finalization of a project. They can be used throughout the duration of a process. Milestones can help put activities in a helpful sequence and plan out the work involved in a lengthy business endeavor.

Examples of Milestones

There are many different ways to use milestone lists. Before deciding how to use yours, be sure to have a good understanding of the full scope of your project, process, or other endeavor. Here are a few different examples of milestones:

  • Phases
  • Communications
  • Decisions
  • Plans
  • Designs
  • Resources
  • Processes
  • Deliverables
  • Integration
  • Environment
  • Training
  • Objectives
  • Goals.

Phases are a good milestone to mark when working with a massive, multifaceted project. You might mark phases throughout the duration of the work on a project to help organize the workflow and information, as well as to give the people involved clear things to focus on along the way. Marking phases as milestone are also ideal for shareholder communications.

Many corporations are required to hold shareholder meetings. If you're trying to bring a large group of shareholders up to speed on a project, phases are a great way to show them progress and answer the "where do we go from here" question. A milestone list in the form of phases might include the following:

  • Concept
  • Design
  • Getting supplies
  • Construction
  • Development
  • Testing
  • Final launch.

You'll want to give the phases clear and descriptive titles when communicating with shareholders. People can understand something like "fire safety drills completed" better than "testing phase 2B."

Deliverables refer to the point of getting a finished product to a client. This is usually a great milestone to recognize, as it marks the completion of a goal and makes your clients happy. These types of milestones can also be useful for workflow processes. If a product has been delivered, this should trigger a payment.

Creating certain environments, whether physical or mental, is another good example of a milestone. You may be working toward creating a new environment, such as:

  • An expanded office space
  • An updated lab
  • A friendlier work environment.

Integration milestones can easily be a part of this as well. As a new environment is being created, old processes and people must be integrated and start to run smoothly.

Milestone List Example

Even if you're not managing a project on a construction site, you can understand the process of building a house. You'll need to start from the ground up. Therefore, a milestone list for a home construction project might look like this:

  1. Flooring finished September 3.
  2. Roof completed September 15.
  3. Gas installed and fully connected by September 30.
  4. Move-in ready October 8.

This clearly doesn't cover all the aspects of a construction project, but it gives an idea of the type of information included. Milestone lists should be clear and detailed.

Best Ways to Handle Project Milestones

Project milestones should be viewed only occasionally by those not deeply involved in the project. Shareholders can benefit from looking at a milestone list, but they shouldn't need to be following every step of the way. The idea is to help give shareholders realistic expectations for a project while also giving the workers involved clear goals and motivation.

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