Blog / Staying on Track with Project Milestones

Project milestones are absolutely essential to any endeavor of any kind. They will help you stay on track, keep you and your team motivated, and enable you to celebrate small victories along the way. Here are our best practices for making them and using them.

Posted by Lauren McKenna on May 24, 2019
So, what is a milestone?

A milestone is a smaller goal that you hit in the process of completing your project or your biggest goal. Every project should have a series of milestones that help you know that you’re progressing. A milestone is not a task, but is met by completing a series of tasks. Recognizing a milestone is not only a great way to make sure you’re on track, but also to keep you and your team excited through the long haul.

“Milestones are the small steps that lead to the ultimate goal, whether it be developing a new product or service or advancing the exploration of space to the far reaches of the universe.” - Ginny Edwards, Project Milestone Planning


When to use project milestones

Milestones in project management are used to mark:

1. The start of significant phases of work
2. The end of significant phases of work
3. To mark the deadline for something
4. To show when an important decision is being made.

Things to take into consideration when setting milestones:

1. Frequency and Timing. When setting the frequency and timing of milestones, you want to follow the Goldilocks rule: Not too far apart and not too close together.

2. Visibility. Keep your milestones in a visible place, be it a physical calendar in your team’s space or on a shared digital calendar. This keeps them at the forefront of everyone’s mind. On ShareYourself, you can place all of your milestones in the Tasks page of your project.

3. Accountability. Hold yourself and your team accountable if you miss a milestone! Assess what kept you from meeting the milestone and make a plan for moving forward. 

How to set milestones:

1. Big picture: You’re figuring out how to get from start to finish.
2. Brainstorm the steps you need to take to complete your project. Don’t worry about getting every last one — focus instead on big steps that are essential for the completion of the project.
3. Examine your list of steps. Are there any that are clearly concrete and have a clear end point? For example, if you were building a house then “all of the floors installed” is a concrete step that has a clear finish point. 
4. Pick the concrete steps with clear finish points and name them as your milestones. When you’re writing out the milestone, however, make sure they don’t sound like a task. 

“Milestones should have a clear description of your project schedule, but not one that implies they are a task. So they shouldn’t be called ‘Get agreement to move into Phase 2’ but ‘Phase 2 starts’. If you want to reflect the effort of getting agreement to move into Phase 2 then add a task in just before that says that.” 

- Elizabeth Harrin, Learn What A Project Milestone Is

How to Use Milestones

After setting your project milestones, you’ll now have a slate to lay down the tasks that will help you achieve them. These are the nitty gritty, more granular (but still important!) steps to reach the end of your milestone. This is also where your core team will come in handy. Some tasks are best delegated to others, in which you’ll assign them accordingly. Accountability is everything with task management, so don’t forget your due dates and priority score!

Here are some examples of using milestones:

Big Project: ShareYourself  

Milestones: As a team, at the start of each month, we decide what our priorities are for that month in order to stay on track with the growth and success of ShareYourself. These milestones are named after the month, for example: May. 

Tasks: Tasks are then determined and listed within each milestone. They all have due dates within the month, and each are also set with a priority level, a categorization and an assignee. Tasks are then added as needed throughout the month. 


Big Project: Green Mtn Chaga (a small herbal business)

Milestone examples:  First round of product production; Etsy shop launch. 

Task examples: Order packaging materials; Create logo; Create social media accounts. 

Lastly, in our video tutorial for project creators, we briefly visit milestones and tasks and how to use them on our platform. Check it out here: 

milestones entrepreneur
Share this post:
Login or create an account to post a comment