Project Design: Focus on Milestone and Timeline

Fatima Abedisamakoush, RA student - Mohawk College

Easy Projects


In this blog post I am going to cover the following topics, project design definition and components as well as the definition of project milestones and timelines and how to develop them. At the end, I present some tools that can be used to create milestone/timeline charts for your project.

The definition of Project Design:

Project design is a responsive plan to an identified need in a systematic, comprehensive manner.


The checklist for developing a good design:

  - Follow the exact guidelines and instructions (format, margining etc.,).

  - Accurate identification and description of the problems and the goals of project.

  - Represent clearly the executive plans to reach the project goal/s.

  - Assessment and validation procedures to evaluate the progress of project.

  - Precise calculation of the duration and cost of a project.

The main components of each design:

- Project approaches (Problem description - Idea development - goal conceptualization).

- Methods (Information gathering - Examination and testing - Analysis).

- Activities (Assessment and validation - Refinement).

- Milestones and Timelines (Schedules planning).


Project Milestone definition:

Milestones are important events/points along the project processes that lead to create a realistic project schedule. Milestones can be defined as an achievement, an approval, a completion of a specific phase and etc.,

How milestone can be identified:

Milestone is the aspect of your project that informs the next step to demonstrate project’s feasibility. Project milestones are in particular essential to monitor the progress of a project and its countermeasures. The reviewers for the submitted proposal especially consider it crucial part.

Milestone Decomposition:

Large complex projects may need to develop milestones with associated tasks to represent the deliverability of a project. Therefore, each milestone is broken down into smaller phases or steps. Every step shows the tasks need to be done to achieve each milestone. If it is a team project, it is recommended to allocate tasks by adding the responsibilities of team leaders to specific milestone.

Time estimation for each milestone:

Milestones help track the advancement of a project and indicate the time frame for each activity to be executed and completed. It also helps predict do-ability of project in a tentatively expected duration. Therefore, time frame for each milestone must be calculated accurately and realistically. 

Project Timeline definition:

Timeline is a build out plan that gives information when the project begins and when it ends. Timeline is chronological events with a summary of activities applicable to a project in which, includes tasks, the relationship between tasks (dependencies), duration and deadlines.


Why we need timeline in project:

 - To enable more accurate determination of the budget and duration.

 - To demonstrate a visual picture of the project goals, work expands and deadlines.

 - To facilitate the analysis process including assessments and validations.


The process to design timeline:

 - Identify the scope of work throughout a project.

 - Discover the project requirements, tasks and activities and the amount of time each one needs to be completed.

 - Distinguish the relation between tasks, whether completion of one task is required before beginning of another task.

- Define the project milestones.

 - Choose desired tools/formats to create your timeline charts.


Some Software used for creating timeline:

TeamGantt software, to create GANTT Charts for planning project schedules.

HubSpot,  free accessible timeline temples in Google sheets

My Product Roadmap, to create a visualized and descriptive milestone/timeline, to create a milestone/timeline for larger and more complex projects



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Development of Milestones and Project Schedules, ICTR Research Navigators, Version 4, 2014.

Developing timelines and milestone charts for your proposal, Vol.6 Issue 2, 2015.

Writing Implementation research Grant Proposals: ten key ingredients, Implementation Science, Vol. 7 Issue 96, 2012.