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.
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?
Horizontal lines: everything is according to the plan and the deadlines are met
Uptrend or rising lines: delay of the milestone date
Non-linear trend: unrealistic milestone date
Downtrend or falling lines: earlier completion of the milestone and the planned safety buffer is too large
- Zigzag trend: usually indicates many uncertainties in the schedule
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.
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.