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The Fine Art of Scheduling – The Format of Project Schedules – Milestones (#29 in the Hut A Project Management Primer)
By Nick Jenkins

Why the fine “art” of scheduling?

If it were a science then every project would be delivered on time!

This sadly is not the case. Overruns are so common that most people have no faith in project deadlines. In truth, the art of scheduling is based on experience and the more experience you have, the more accurate your schedule will be. However, you can still produce a good schedule by following some simple rules.

Milestones

If a schedule denotes a sequences of events in time, “milestones” denote the completion of significant portions of the project or the transition from one phase to another. At each milestone there will be “deliverables” which must be completed to move on to the next phase.

As previously discussed, a schedule can include any level of granularity that is reasonably practical. In fact a complex project may involve different levels of scheduling. You might work on a weekly schedule with high level milestones while other team members will have smaller scale schedules with finer grade milestones.

Typically, more detail is involved in projects where there are a number of parallel activities taking place. Where more than one person is working on a project at one time it is obviously possible for these individuals to take on separate areas of responsibility and complete them concurrently. In this case the concept of a critical path comes into play and milestones represent those critical events where ‘branches’ rejoin the critical path of a project.

Previously in the Hut A Project Management Primer:

The Fine Art of Scheduling – Principles of Scheduling

Next in the Hut A Project Management Primer:

The Fine Art of Scheduling – The Format of Project Schedules – A Simple Example

Nick Jenkins is an IT manager with 10 years experience in software development, project management and software testing. He’s worked in various fields of IT development in Australia, Britain and the USA and occasionally he learned something along the way. Now he lives on the banks of the Swan River in Perth, Western Australia, and he publishes the odd guide to help aspiring IT professionals. Nick’s website can be found at www.nickjenkins.net.

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