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cplace Glossary

What is a Milestone?

In general, a milestone is an intermediate goal in a plan, a project, or an undertaking. This interim objective is usually defined at the beginning. It can be tied to a specific time and/ or date but does not have to be. The key factor in determining whether a milestone is actually reached is whether the content-related requirements are met. Only then do we speak of a milestone being reached.

Where does the term milestone come from?

Originally, stone milestones were erected along paths to indicate a certain distance. Later, the term became part of common usage in a figurative sense.

What is a milestone in agile project management?

Milestones play an important role in project management. They are understood to be an event of outstanding importance for the entire project. It is always a clearly defined goal or result. It must be realisable and measurable. Several milestones therefore divide a large overall task into verifiable individual stages. Other terms are therefore checkpoint or measuring point. Frequently, milestones are either at the beginning or at the end of a project phase. Depending on the course of the project, milestones can also be changed and adapted dynamically. In agile project management, the concept of milestones does not exist. In Scrum, for example, project work is structured by so-called sprints, the beginning and end of which can be seen as equivalent to a milestone. This can help to synchronise classically and agilely organised project components with each other (keyword: hybrid project management).

What could milestones be?

  • Decisions on the further course of action
  • The existence of interim results and/ or deliverables
  • Interim inspections or acceptance

How do I formulate a milestone?

To formulate milestones and subsequently check them, test criteria are defined at the beginning. All project participants must know them to be able to work towards the milestones accordingly.

Helpful questions are:

  • What is to be achieved?
  • How can success be proven?

The formulation of a milestone is then short, comprehensible, and concrete. It can, for example, consist of an event and the desired state:

  • Create cost calculation
  • Market research completed
  • Competitor analysis carried out

Why are milestones important in a project?

Milestones make projects manageable and provide planning security. Particularly in large-scale projects, this makes it possible to check at any time whether progress still meets the required deadline, cost, and quality requirements.

Milestones provide structure and orientation for all project participants.

The division into milestones and the achievement of these milestones also strengthen motivation and stamina.

Related terms: Gantt ChartProject Management


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