Milestones are the point at which an iteration or phase formally ends.
From a development perspective, each iteration provides an increment of functionality to the product. Thus, the
end of each iteration corresponds to a checkpoint where the project team demonstrates to stakeholders that the
objectives for that iteration have been met.
However, there are four major milestones that provide evaluation criteria at the end of each phase. From a management
perspective, the software lifecycle is decomposed over time into four sequential phases, each concluded by a major
The phases and milestones of a project
Each phase is essentially a span of time between two major milestones. At each phase-end an assessment is performed to
determine whether the objectives of the phase have been met. A satisfactory assessment allows the project to move to
the next phase.
At the end of the Inception phase is the first major project milestone or Lifecycle Objectives
Milestone. At this point, you examine the cost versus benefits of the project, and decide either to proceed
with the project or to cancel it.
At the end of the Elaboration phase is the second important project milestone, the Lifecycle
Architecture Milestone. At this point, a baseline of requirements is agreed to, you examine the detailed
system objectives and scope, the choice of architecture, and the resolution of the major risks.
At the end of the Construction phase is the third important project milestone, the Initial
Operational Capability Milestone. At this point, the product is ready to be handed over to the transition
team. All functionality has been developed and all alpha testing (if any) has been completed. In addition to the
software, a user manual has been developed, and there is a description of the current release. The product is ready for
At the end of the Transition phase is the fourth important project milestone, the Product
Release Milestone. At this point, you decide if the objectives were met, and if you should start another
development cycle. The Product Release Milestone is the result of the customer reviewing and accepting the project