At the completion of a major project phase, or after the
completion of a major deliverable, the team should take a short pause to ensure
that the prior work was completed successfully and that the project team and
the client are ready to proceed to the next major phase or deliverable. These
events are called “milestones.” Milestones are activities of zero
duration, cost, and effort. They are actually markers or flags in your schedule
that signify that something major has just been completed. Sometimes these
criteria are called exit and entry criteria, or “gates.”

There are two major areas to discuss and validate at a

  1. Make
    sure that all of the work done so far is complete, correct, and approved.
    This review process should be a formality since the deliverable completed
    so far should have been approved already in the appropriate manner.
  2. You
    should gain permission to proceed to the next phase or deliverable.
    Obtaining formal approval to proceed is important for a couple of reasons.
    • The
      team needs to make sure that it does not get ahead of itself. For
      instance if you begin the Design Phase without having the requirements
      finalized, you may end up with a design that does not fully meet the
      client needs or you may have to spend effort and money on rework.
    • You
      need to ensure that you still have sponsorship, budget, and resources.
      Taking a checkpoint and obtaining formal approval to proceed will ensure
      that the project is still valid and that you expect that you will have
      the resources you need to complete the remainder of the work. If you
      proceed without formal approval, you may end up wasting resources on work
      that no longer has a high-enough priority to proceed.

The approval to proceed usually takes place in a Milestone
Review Meeting with the project manager, sponsor, and other senior
stakeholders. The agenda of the meeting would be something like the following:

  • Validate
    the purpose of the meeting
  • Review
    Exit Criteria for the phase
  • Formally
    sign off on any of the major deliverables not yet approved
  • Review
  • Review
    any outstanding work from this phase
  • Review
    entry criteria for the next phase
  • Validate
    estimates for the remainder of the work
  • Validate
    that the business case for the project is still valid
  • Validate
    resource availability for the remainder of the project
  • Validate
    that sponsorship is still in place
  • Validate
    the high-level plan for the next phase
  • Obtain
    official approval to proceed

The official approval to proceed
basically means that all work done up to this point is okay and the team can
concentrate now on the work associated with the next phase or next milestone.