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Milestones were originally the stone markers along a route that told travelers the mileage. In modern times, milestones serve the same function for projects.

Milestones are specific, definable points on a project that are used to indicate progress. If the milestones are vague, they are hard to tell when they are reached.

For example, ‘learned to speak German’ is a hard milestone to quantify. Passed a German aptitude test is much more specific.

Knowing where a team is lets leaders take action. Leaders should have some plan about when they expect the team to reach each milestone. That way, they know if the team is on track or not.

Milestones differ from project gates. Gates are tasks that teams must be completed prior to moving past a certain point. In many cases, gates are also used to consider whether or not to continue the project. Milestones are just indicators.

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