Every project manager knows the importance with keeping a project on track. When a project falls behind, the team needs to put in a great deal of effort to put ensure it is back on track because of the time-sensitive stages of a project; most of the time it leads to the project being delayed or cancelled entirely. Keeping employees motivated to complete a project can be difficult, the easiest way is with the use of project milestones.

Project milestones are important points on a project’s timeline that employees can look at for visual progression of the project. The thought behind making milestones is to categorize the parts of a project into digestible sections opposed to viewing the whole project at once; this should motivate your team to complete tasks on time. However, it is important to understand there is more to making project milestones than just setting them. Setting meaningful milestones will motivate your employees more than setting frequent or unreachable milestones. Here are some things to consider when deciding your project milestones.

Tip #1: Frequency and Timing

As a project manager, you may be tempted to overuse milestones as a motivation tool to keep the team moving along the ladder to reach the surface of success. Don’t fall into the trap of labelling every task completion as a milestone. With more milestones, each one becomes less momentous, inadvertently taking away from the motivation of work. On the other hand, don’t adopt the other extreme approach by ignoring or not recognizing significant and relevant events as milestones. A good compromise is to consistently designate important deliverables as milestones.

Tip #2: Visibility

Milestones need to be placed prominently in the project’s schedule and tracked periodically. Make sure that your milestones have been incorporated into your project scheduling, calendar, or other project tracking software program. This promotes positive work productivity closer to the goal; similar to a runner getting closer to the end of a marathon.

Tip #3: Accountability

Milestones are commitments that must be met on time. If a milestone is missed, it needs to be addressed immediately by re-examining the resources to determine if they are properly matched to the objectives. This reinforces the meaning behind each milestone and the importance of the impact when achieving each milestone.

Tip #4: Fallibility

It may sound counter-intuitive, but you should select challenging milestones that carry a degree of risk for failure. Treat milestones as learning experiences and opportunities to make adjustments, so the final product can be flawless. People learn from mistakes; applying this philosophy to your projects will assist you to do your best work.

TeamHeadquarters provides full Milestone Management and reporting. Contact Entry Software for more information.

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