Milestone trend analysis: How to analyze your stage wins

Milestones mark important dates within a project. Whether these dates are adhered to or postponed is visualized by the milestone trend analysis (MTA).

Andrea Schlagbauer

Andrea Schlagbauer

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These "colorful" lines are above all one thing: an important controlling and early warning instrument. The MTA visualizes the defined milestones over time: from the start to the planned end date. Good software tools mostly create an MTA automatically.

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The horizontal axis is subdivided into reporting times, e.g., weeks or months, depending on the average duration of your projects. The vertical axis represents the date of each milestone at each checkpoint. Connecting lines can be used to detect delays early and to derive trends - where appropriate, measures can be taken to ensure compliance with deadlines.

Analysis of MTA trend patterns

What do the various trend patterns shown represented in the MTA mean?

  1. Horizontal lines: everything is according to the plan and the deadlines are met

    mta-plan

  2. Uptrend or rising lines: delay of the milestone date

    mta-delay

  3. Non-linear trend: unrealistic milestone date

    mta-unrealistic

  4. Downtrend or falling lines: earlier completion of the milestone and the planned safety buffer is too large

    mta-safety

  5. Zigzag trend: usually indicates many uncertainties in the schedule

    mta-uncertainties

What is the gray zone?

When a milestone reaches the gray zone, either this milestone has not been reached or the milestone plan has not been kept up to date.

mta-grey-area

For an efficient milestone trend analysis it is important to ensure that milestones and their progress are updated and reviewed on a regular basis at pre-defined reporting dates. Only then, the trend patterns are meaningful and can fulfill their purpose as an important controlling and early warning instrument.

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Relevant Project Management Terms

Milestone  

A milestone is a verifiable event without duration and activity. The setting of such milestones, or intermediate goals, facilitates project planning and project controlling.

Milestone Trend Analysis MTA  

Milestone trend analysis, also known as MTA for short, is a method used to control the achievement of milestones or adherence to deadlines in a project. The MTA visualizes the defined milestones from the start to the planned finish date. The horizontal axis is divided into reporting dates, for example weeks or months. The vertical axis represents the date of each milestone at each checkpoint. Various trends can be identified when using connecting lines.

Glossary