Download the tool and describe the milestones precisely. The milestones are the results during the project. A consistent project follow-up is only possible if the milestones are well defined and SMART formulated. A good milestone description includes a definition of the condition to be achieved, the deadline and who is responsible. The description must include the assumptions on which the milestone is based and the requirements that the milestone must meet, how it is tested that the requirements are met and who should approve the milestone.
Purpose and yield
The tool ensures that the milestones are clearly defined. A milestone is a result (a sub-deliverable) at a set time. The purpose of the tool is to help you specify your milestones precisely so that it is easier to follow up on the project. This will give you a better basis for your management.
The tool describes:
- What must be achieved, at what time and who is responsible
- What inputs are needed to achieve the milestone?
- What criteria should the milestone be tested against?
- Who should approve the milestone?
When is the milestone description used in the project?
- The milestone description is prepared in connection with the planning of the project.
- The description is used during follow-up on the milestones.
- The milestone descriptions are adjusted when changes occur in the project plan
Pitfalls and restrictions
- Milestones are described inaccurately. This means that it is difficult to determine whether a milestone has been achieved.
- The milestones are described as activities instead of a result. Example: “Description of the new workflow”. The milestone should be described as: “New workflow for customer complaints is described”.
- The milestones are not described as the final result. Example: “New workflow for customer complaints is described”. This may mean that the milestone is not actually achieved when described. It should be stated: “New workflow for customer complaints has been described, tested and approved”.
- It is often not described how the milestone should be tested and who should approve it. This may mean that a tested milestone is not approved because the people who should approve the milestone have not accepted the test method.
- Milestones must be described so that the result is sufficient to build on in the project plan in question.
- Many milestones have met the requirements described by the project team, but have not been approved by those who need the result.
The descriptions are made by the specialists in the project who have knowledge of the topics in question. This may mean that the milestone must be described by an interdisciplinary group. Since the milestone is input to the next part of the project, the following link must approve the description, or even better, contribute to the description of the requirements the milestone must meet.
Three examples of milestone descriptions
Template 1 (describes several milestones)
- In the simplest version the description includes a definition of the condition to be achieved, the deadline and who will be responsible. It is important to describe the requirements the milestone must meet, how it is tested that the requirements are met and who should approve the milestone.
- It is also appropriate to describe what input the milestone is based on (assumptions and prerequisites), as well as how test and approval ensures that the milestone can be used as input to the later course of the project.
Template 2 (describes one milestone)
- The top line defines the project, workstream, the date and version number of the description
- Line two defines the milestone name, deadline and who will be responsible for achieving the milestone.
- Under line two, the two major fields describe the milestone assumptions. To the left the required prior milestones are described (dependencies). To the right of this field it is defined which prerequisites must be met for the milestone to be realized (e.g. previous results, documentation, tests and approvals).
- As the fourth line on the left, the two major fields describe the milestone result. To the left requirements from the subsequent milestones are described which will use the result (dependencies). To the right of this field the result of the milestone (documentation, tests, approvals, etc.) is defined.
- To the right of the template you find three columns describing the test and approval of the milestone. The three columns describe from the left the acceptance criteria, how these criteria are tested and verified. Finally, the right column describes who will be responsible for this approval. It can in principle be different people depending on the test criterion.
Template 3 (describes one milestone)
The template corresponds to template 1 with the following extension: The three columns to the right are expanded with a rough plan describing the main activities leading up to the milestone. The three columns describe the following:
- Description of activities leading to the milestone
- The duration of the activity and the resources needed to complete the activity
- The budget for that activity
Please note that templates 1, 2 and 3 are slightly different in the Word edition, as it is an A4 vertical format (the content is the same).
The templates in the tool are so general that they can be used regardless of whether you work with projects based on IPMA, Prince2 or PMI.