Hitting Your Milestones

May 31, 2017 by FlexPro

Another milestone was recently celebrated in the Faughey family when my son Nick graduated from the University of Pittsburgh. It was an exciting day for the group of us who went to see the event as we watched him walk across the stage and receive his diploma. Nick’s Computer Engineering degree took 5 years to achieve, but I can’t help to think how quickly this time flew by. It really doesn’t seem like that long ago we were dropping him off as a freshman – and now he’s a graduate! What a fun day we all had watching the festivities and then celebrating Nick’s achievement with a family dinner at a Brazilian Steakhouse. Such a wonderful milestone for him. He’s working with an exciting technology start-up in Pittsburgh and will be starting out his career there. I can only imagine the bright future he has ahead of him and I know there will be many more milestones to celebrate as he begins this new adventure.

Our long drive out to Pittsburgh had me feeling a little nostalgic as I was reflecting back on all that he’s already achieved. From his first steps to his first job to college graduation, and everything in between. They were all events worthy of celebration. Even if it was as simple as a big hug for his first steps, it was an event that did not go unnoticed. I can still remember his determination and then the smile on his face. As little as he was, he knew he had accomplished something special!

It’s exciting and rewarding to achieve and celebrate a milestone in our personal life and milestones in project management are just as special (well almost, anyway!). Wikipedia defines a project milestone as: “Tools used in project management to mark specific points along a project timeline. These points may signal anchors such as a project start and end date, a need for external review or input and budget checks, among others. In many instances, milestones do not impact project duration. Instead, they focus on major progress points that must be reached to achieve success.”

So milestones, while not impacting the project in duration, are important factors is measuring the project’s forward progress. As PM’s we need to be able to track key deliverables and make sure everyone is staying on task and adhering to the timeline. A few areas in which milestones are recognized include the beginning and ending of one of the five phases of project management, meeting of a deadline during a phase and any other time a significant goal is met. Each milestone should be marked and as you record your milestones throughout the project, you will be able to see the progression in detail.

The key here is, “they focus on major progress points that must be reached to achieve success.” This is the part of the project that is “divided for monitoring and measurement of work performance.” And how sweet it is when those milestones are reached! As a project manager, and much like celebrating a personal milestone, I believe in celebrating a project team milestone. With all of the things that can and often go wrong on a project from change in scope to budget issues – I firmly believe in recognizing when things go right. Hitting a target is a big deal! Whether you’re landing a man on the moon, kicking a football through the goal post or meeting a deadline – there deserves to be at least a moment of celebration.

As we’ve talked about in previous newsletters, team members need to feel appreciated and it often doesn’t take much to make everyone feel valued. Celebrating a team milestone is a perfect way to keep everyone motivated, engaged and working towards the final goal. Some ways I like to show my team my appreciation for hitting a milestone is by writing a personal message to each member or maybe bringing in muffins in the morning or a pizza party for lunch. It’s really more about recognizing their efforts and letting them know hitting that milestone did not go unnoticed. Milestones are an easy and useful tool to use throughout the project timeline helping you to achieve the results you desire.

I’d be interested in hearing about how you celebrate a project milestone. Drop me a line and let me know your favorite ways of keeping your team engaged.

-Lynn Faughey, FlexPro COO

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