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Milestone is a very frequently used term in project management. In its origin a milestone was a sort of stone column. It defined numbered markers along a long road, that were erected in intervals of one mile. In our context a milestone designates the moments that mark important stages on the way to the goal of the project.

Milestones are thus formulated in the past tense. Moreover, the detailed formulation comprises partial activities that took place en route. Here is an illustration using again the exemplary project:

Milestone # Description Conditions met

Milestone 1:

Funding ensured Promises by A, B, C
Milestone 2: Completion of preparatory work The script is finished. The shooting location is prepared. The participants have been cast.
Milestone 3: Completion of shooting Completion of the work with the participants.

Returning the equipment. Complete material for the post-production is available.

Milestone 4: ... ...

[edit] No shifts

If possible, milestones should not be shifted because they function as a means of controlling the project. Substeps can be disposed far more flexibly.

[edit] Only few milestones as reference points

Do not define too many milestones. Ideally, they delimit the big project stages of preparation, implementation and conclusion.

These stages and the external dates will serve as reference points. Therefore determine what has to be done in order for the preparation phase to be completed. Then consider what has to be accomplished for the implementation phase to be finished. As a third step, register what has to be dealt with until the conclusion of the project. In the case of a project by the Theodor-Heuss-Kolleg, the definition of the last milestone is quite easy: The completion of the project has to meet the deadline for the final report.

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