When you’re working on something important, be it big or small, you need to set project milestones! Even if you’re already halfway through a project when you’re reading this, take the time to make milestones for the rest of what you have to complete. You’ll quickly realize how useful they are once you start using them.
So what’s so important about project milestones and how do you use them?
Projects are More than What They Seem
Even a project that seems relatively simple on the surface, such as ‘hire a VP of Sales’ can have several smaller tasks that need to be completed in order to ensure the project’s success.
“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.” – Entry
Without separating a project into these smaller project milestones, it’s much easier for things to get mixed up or for the task to look too daunting to take on. It’s far more tempting to procrastinate on a huge, difficult project than if it was just one small task at a time.
Using Situational Leadership for Project Milestones
When leadership is certain that all the steps it takes to complete a project have been examined and each of those tasks is assigned to someone specifically, then they can use situational leadership.
“Situational leadership is about adapting the style of leadership to employees involved, with an eye to the environment within which they operate. It is, therefore, more about a leader’s ability to adjust to the situation in front of her, than about personal leadership skills.” – Manage Magazine
By separating your project into project milestones, as a leader you can adapt to each task that needs to get done. This way you’ll have a much easier time finding strategies to get each part completed instead of trying to do things one way the whole time.
Making a Detailed Action Plan
By setting project milestones, each project’s action plan can be budgeted, measured for progress, and supported with skill development along the way. This level of detail will also allow teams and companies to execute much faster. This is because everyone is clear about what needs to be done, by when, and by whom.
“When you’re ensuring that a step-by-step action plan is in place for every project before it gets started, ensure that you include each of the critical components that need to get done to hit the goal.” – Cameron Herold
Each step of the project can have a date assigned to it regarding when it will get done. Then having a system in place to follow up on those milestones will ensure that work gets done quickly, on time, and on budget, instead of sliding down the slippery slope of being overdue.
Try this on your next project. Set specific milestones building up to its completion. It may seem tedious at first, but you’ll quickly learn how much it improves and speeds up the process of getting things done.
If you have questions or would like more information, I’d be happy to help. Please send an email, and my team will get in touch with you!
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in July 2012 and has been edited for accuracy and comprehensiveness.