Milestones

Important deadlines in a project programme are highlighted by specific points in time called milestones. These are timeless activities usually at the beginning or end of a phase or stage and are used for monitoring purposes throughout the life of the project. Needless to say, they should be SMART, which is an acronym for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Timebound. Often milestones are used to act as trigger points for progress payments or deadlines for receipt of vital information, permits or equipment deliveries.

Milestone reports are a succinct way of advising top management of the status of the project and should act as a spur to the project team to meet these important deadlines. This is especially important if they relate to large tranches of progress payments.

Milestones are marked on bar charts or networks by a triangle or diamond and can be turned into a monitoring system in their own right when used in milestone slip charts, sometimes also known as trend charts.

Figure 25.1 shows such a slip chart which was produced at reporting period 5 of a project. The top scale represents the project calendar and the vertical scale is the main reporting periods in terms of time. If both calendars are drawn to the same scale, a line drawn from the top left-hand corner to the bottom right-hand corner will be at 45° to the two axes.

The pre-planned milestones at the start of the project are marked on the top line with a black triangle (T).

As the project progresses, the predicted or anticipated dates of achievement of the milestones are inserted so that the slippage (if any) can be seen graphically. This should then prompt management action to ensure that the subsequent milestones do not slip! At each reporting stage, the anticipated slippages of milestones as given by the programme are re-marked with an x while those that have not been re-programmed are marked with an O. Milestones which have been met will be on the diagonal and will be marked with a triangle (V).

As the programmed slippage of each milestone is marked on the diagram, a pattern emerges which acts not only as a historical record of the slippages but can also be used to give a crude prediction of future milestone movements.

A slip chart showing the status at reporting period 11 is shown on Figure 25.2. It can be seen that milestone A was reached in week 22 instead of the original prediction of week 16. Milestones B, C and D have all slipped with the latest prediction for B being week 50, for C being week 62 and D being week 76. It will be noticed that before the reporting period 11, the programmed predictions are marked X and the future predictions, after week 11, are marked O.

If a milestone is not on the critical path, it may well slip on the slip chart without affecting the next milestone. However, if two adjacent milestones on the slip chart are on the critical

Figure 25.1 Milestone slip chart
Figure 25.2 Milestone slip chart

path, any delay on the first one must cause a corresponding slippage on the second. If this is then marked on the slip chart, it will in effect become a prediction, which will then alert the project manager to take action.

Once the milestone symbol meets the diagonal line, the required deadline has been achieved.

Project Management Made Easy

Project Management Made Easy

What you need to know about… Project Management Made Easy! Project management consists of more than just a large building project and can encompass small projects as well. No matter what the size of your project, you need to have some sort of project management. How you manage your project has everything to do with its outcome.

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