What are Project Milestones and Why are they so Important?

Milestones are tools used in project management to mark specific points along a project timeline. These points may signal anchors such as a project start and end date, a need for external review or input and budget checks, among others.

Milestones are a way of knowing how the project is advancing if you are not familiar with the tasks being executed.

Some important milestones are

Key Dates  – Parties, board meetings, product rollouts and other key dates mark significant pieces of your project.
Key Deadlines
External Dates and Deliveries – For example, a due date for a deliverable you are expecting from a client,  the date when your product has to be delivered, or the day that raw material is scheduled to arrive.  These key events can affect when other tasks in your project are allowed to start.
The best way to display milestones is to use a Gantt Chart.

gantt chart milestones

Example – The red markers are milestones in the above timeline picture

For example – You are building a house for your family and all you can think off are milestones: “The floors will be finished on Wednesday”, “The roof will be completed on Dec 15th”, “The gas installation will be connected at the end of the year”. We intuitively talk about milestones, not tasks, because we do not know how to build a house, and our friends ask us about the construction in terms of milestones: “When are you going to finish the roof?”, “When are you going to move in?”, etc.

A best practice in planning a project suggests we place key milestones in the schedule in order to manage stakeholders’ expectations. This practice helps us define a dashboard for all projects, identify the milestones that have been reached and those that are behind, and manage expectations of those that are involved in the project.

Do you know that you can quickly create Gantt Charts within Excel and highlight all Milestones? Click here for our free excel template.

Gantt Chart Excel Template Ribbon
Gantt Chart Excel