Andrea Beithon Senior Project Manager Follow
October 24, 2016

Hand tracing along a road on a map
Milestones vary from project to project, but in a typical website project, there are a handful of critical points that are integral to the project’s future and its success.

Project Goals Prioritized and Defined

Phase: Definition & Planning
Responsible Party: Both Teams

This milestone determines key performance indicators, site audiences, site functionality, their relative importance, and what the site needs to be able to do. Once the project is launched, these goals will serve as the measuring stick for the project success.

Visual Designs Approved

Phase: Definition & Planning
Responsible Party: Client

This milestone cements the specification of the solution that will meet the needs of the site’s audience. It also allows the production of the solution to begin.

Scope Verification and Budget Alignment

Phase: Definition & Planning
Responsible Party: Both Teams

This milestone occurs in tandem with the previous one. Once the developers have been briefed on the solution, they are asked to re-estimate the amount of time it will take to complete. If this amount differs from the one set forth at project signing, the teams work together to re-align the scope and budget by adding budget or reducing scope.

Site Building Completion

Phase: Execution
Responsible Party: Agency

When site building is complete, the client can begin adding content and, simultaneously, ensuring that the solution meets the requirements that were agreed upon in the design and strategy stages. This is where the concept starts to turn into reality.

Launch Blockers Submitted

Phase: Execution/Closing
Responsible Party: Client

Until this milestone is achieved, the site launch date will remain subject to change, as the list of launch blockers defines the finish line. Once this list is in hand and final, the launch date can be set. This milestone also leads to client acceptance of the project.

You may have noticed that “Launch” is not one of the critical milestones – this is no mistake! The task of “launching” is simply altering a few values in the DNS Configuration. And, while this task garners a lot of attention, it is actually just the last launch blocker from the previous milestone. Launch is often anticlimactic for the project team, and we should hope that it is! The only thing that changes is the address in the URL bar, all else remains the same.

Achieving These Milestones Ensures Project Success

The timeliness of accomplishing these milestones, whether they were early, on time, or late, is an excellent way to assess project health. The sooner project health is determined, the  likelier it is to stay on track and become a success.