Managing a project or process can be a challenging task. From assigning tasks, setting deadlines, solving problems, and ensuring stakeholders are happy. This can get overwhelming, especially extensive projects that constantly get updated. Breaking such projects down makes them more digestible, less overwhelming, and easy to monitor.
You can visualize tasks better in small chunks, which gets your creative juice flowing. Milestones help project managers track key performance indicators (KPIs), schedules, and deadlines. They give structure to a project and make it possible to identify flaws in implementation.
A milestone is a specific point in a project’s lifecycle where agreed goals are evaluated to determine if progress is made. It could be a start or end date, external reviews or input, budget checks, or submission of a deliverable. A project milestone serves as a checkpoint to determine if a process can move to the next phase or if you can make adjustments. Here are ways to use milestones to break down a project and monitor progress.
A phase milestone gives an overview of the project and makes it simpler to understand. Breaking a project down into phases makes it easy to map out and assign tasks. This milestone is useful when a project must follow a specific order. It is often used in the development, construction, and engineering industries.
Although a process may have many details and teams involved, summarizing it into phase milestones keeps the various aspects focused. This way, everyone knows what to do to increase productivity. A phase milestone helps convey the process’s priority to all parties involved.
A time milestone helps you evaluate KPIs based on a specific time interval. You can break a project down into a time cycle, creating regular intervals to track progress. This milestone is helpful for projects with a specific deadline or end period. They are great for projects that have uncertain external factors included.
For example, if a particular material is not delivered on time in a production process, time milestones can allow you to readjust timelines. It offers more flexibility to remap the process to accommodate the delay. Compared to the phase milestone, it gives more control to the project manager.
Critical Task Milestones
In every project, critical tasks determine how the project turns out. Task milestones break a project down based on these tasks. So everyone knows what they have to do to move the project forward. For instance, for a marketing agency, lead generation, copywriting, and closing are essential tasks that staff must carry out to make sales.
Avoid making the milestones too detailed and frequent. Keep it top-level and focused on tasks considered crucial to the project. Project managers can use a project management tool to break a project down into milestones. You can also assign responsibility for each milestone with due dates.
Project management tools allow managers to change time tracking and task management templates to suit their needs. It presents data in a visually enhanced format that makes it easy to track progress. Project management tools have collaborative features that ensure all team members have a single communication channel.
Another way to break down a project is by deliverables. Deliverables are measurable goods or services provided at specified intervals in a project timeline. It could be tangible or intangible, depending on the industry and project. Once the desired outcome is achieved, you can move on to the subsequent deliverable.
Business owners can use deliverable milestones in manufacturing, construction, or agriculture. These are useful for projects with many materials that need to be created in sequential order. For example, a deliverable in the digital marketing industry might be a blog post, social media post, newsletter, etc.
As a project manager, you need to determine the criteria for the evaluation. You need to set goals for your project and pick the order they can be expected. Once a goal is met, you can acknowledge the achievement and move on to future milestones.
The benefit of a goal milestone is that it incorporates other landmarks. For example, say you want to expand your business to have four branches in your state by 2025. This landmark includes a time, deliverable, and critical task milestone.
Celebrate Your Milestones
Milestones help you focus on your goals and reduce distraction. However, when you achieve your milestones, take time to celebrate. Don’t wait for the big wins alone because the small victories are the propellers to achieving better things. Celebrating milestones improves an attitude of gratitude, allows rewards, and can help motivate your team in the future.