Software Project Milestone: What, Why and How

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Software Project Milestone: What, Why and How

The roadmap for a software project has plenty of points along the way. See why milestone mapping is important to project completion.

· Agile Zone ·
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You have probably heard the phrase “software project milestone” a thousand times or more. But, what are these milestones, who needs to create them, when are they needed, does every project require milestones, and what are the advantages of them? These are some of the questions you might have in mind and this article seeks to answer them.

What is a Milestone?

Any project or startup can “survive” without milestones. That’s true. But, will every project be delivered on time without milestones? And will it be exactly how you wanted it? That’s more unlikely. Milestones are hugely important for the Agile team and project success overall. They help you stay accountable, stay on track and complete things on time.

I would say that milestones are closely related to road mapping. After completing a road mapping process, you might want to divide your roadmap into iterations and milestones. Then you can see approximately which features are assigned to each milestone.

A milestone symbolizes an achievement, is one of the most important aspects of project planning, because project milestones are the most visible indicators of project progress toward its objectives. Failure to meet a milestone indicates that a project is not proceeding to plan and usually triggers corrective action by management. Also, in some cases, milestones determine when payments are sent to vendors and contractors.

Just to give you a simple example, even though not everyone is a project manager in the construction field, most are at least familiar with the steps involved in building a new home:

  1. The basement will be finished on Monday
  2. The floor will be finished by 1st of June.
  3. The roof will be completed on August 1st

For a clearer picture, let’s take a look at a specific example in a software project: an app that aggregates messages from lots of different sources (e.g. Facebook Messenger, Instagram, Snapchat, WhatsApp, Viber, etc. ) and lets the user manage them from one place. First off, you need a list of all the broad phases of your project. For our example, the list might look like this:

  • Registration and login
  • Connecting social networks
  • FB integration
  • Whatsapp integration
  • Viber integration
  • Snapchat integration
  • Instagram integration
  • Messaging interface and logistics
  • Push notifications
  • Profile settings
  • Offline behavior
  • Design implementation

And then, of course, you need to put the date for each one. Like this, you can track the progress of your project and make sure it goes as expected.

Milestones also help the developer to understand the structure of the project. When they create the milestones they need to understand that each step is a visible, functioning element of the app. Often one function is dependent on another. For instance, the "forgot password" functionality is unlikely to be in the first milestone, as it requires a “registration and login” functionality to be developed first.

Rules of Thumb: Software Project Milestone 

Let’s look at some rules of thumb in software project milestone creation:

  • A demonstrable milestone in 5 to 10 working days should be considered a minor milestone
  • A demonstrable milestone in 1 to 3 month should be considered a major milestone
  • When milestones are completed, it means that they:
    • met technical and design requirements
    • have tested code 
    • end with a shipped/accepted/deployed product.

Why Use Milestones in Software Development? 

Software project milestone can benefit you in a number of ways:

Monitor project progress

Software development milestones serve as checkpoints for tracking what has been done thus fare and how.

Meet deadlines

No plan is ever complete without a list of deadlines! The best way to make them noticeable and track their progress is to use the project management milestones and deliverables methodology.

Spot important dates

There are always some days in your project that could impact a project in adversely some way. It can be a mandatory training, someone getting sick, or someone leaves the company, etc. It’s important to keep all of these important events in mind when you’re planning a project because they could possibly impact your project schedule. So, when you have a milestone, you will likely pay attention to this details to be more accurate in your estimations.

Identify project bottlenecks

Many projects rely on the work provided by external teams or some software teams just heavily depend on other departments, such as design, for example. If you’re not tracking those external factors, you will most probably have a problem with reaching the deadlines. As milestones are shared, it will help you to work hand in hand with other teams and departments.

Evaluate team performance

It is a very good way of evaluating team’s efficiency and performance.

Manage risks and assumptions 

Risks and assumptions are present in every single project. To ensure that the risks mitigated and assumptions validated as the project progresses, they should be linked to milestones.


I should say that milestones are an integral part of an Agile project management. Without them, a project reminds me of going down a road to nowhere. Believe us, it helps! In Apiumhub we use milestones internally for managing the projects for our clients. Without any doubt, a milestone will make you focused on the right things at the right time.

If you would like to add some other benefits or other milestones related information that I haven’t included in my article feel free to share it in the comments section below! Thank you!

milestone ,agile development ,software development ,roadmap ,project completion ,agile

Published at DZone with permission of Ekaterina Novoseltseva . See the original article here.

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