Project Management Needs Project Milestones
Project milestones are special events that signify the completion of a promised deliverable. No project lasts forever; each has a defined beginning and an end. Because each project has a unique outcome (as opposed to business as usual), each must be managed with its own set of unique milestones built in.
Project milestones not only help project managers accurately determine whether or not the project is on schedule, they add significant value to project scheduling.
Managers and clients love project milestones because they provide an opportunity to validate the current state of the project against the overall schedule, since each milestone signifies some set of underlying work has been completed.
If a milestone date is missed, everyone knows immediately that the project is behind schedule. Clients don’t need to know the individual status of all the activities in the work plan; he/she just needs to keep track of the status of the milestones to know if a project is on schedule or not.
Each project has a distinctive scope and set of goals. Project milestones provide a means to measure the inputs and the outputs of the project against the work plan. They also provide a great way to take a step back and validate the overall health of the project.
All successful projects have milestones, created at the beginning of the project and regularly reviewed and updated as the project continues. To insure the success of your endeavor take note of the following:
– Before the project begins, make sure that the client has approved the scope and goals, required inputs (time, money and resources), processes (planning, project management, analysis, testing and implementation) and outputs (project milestones and key deliverables) of the project.
– At each milestone, check the work plan to make sure that you and your client understand where the project is and re-validate the activities required for completion of the project.
– Evaluate what’s been accomplished and the effort, duration and cost estimates for the remaining work. Are your remaining estimates accurate? If not, modify the work plan. If it appears that your budget or deadline will not be met or if there are other potential problems, raise the issue and resolve the problem now.
– Issue a formal status update and make any other communications specified in the work plan.
Project milestone dates provide a great time to validate where you are, make any needed adjustments and get prepared to charge ahead.