The Milestone-Trend-Analysis (MTA) is a most effective and clear instrument for the supervision of the project progress and one of the most used “tools” in controlling the project schedule. The MTA enables the project team to visualise if the work corresponding to certain project milestones is ahead, behind or on schedule. As you can imagine, a prerequisite and key element for a sound trend analysis is a realistic project schedule that derives the definition of some meaningful milestones. It also requires the conduct of regular project meetings where the milestones are being reviewed and updated with the expected due dates based on the progress state.

In essence, the Milestone Trend Analysis is an easy-to-read combination of the history and prognosis of the project milestones and is used to graphically illustrate time-related discrepancies.

How does milestone trend analysis work?

Milestones (or deliverables) are captured during the planning or implementation stage and are often a result of the programming or (contractually) agreed with the respective parties. During the course of the project and as the planning and knowledge matures, the initially set due dates are often subject to revision.

When milestones are updated during the regular project meetings, the completion dates are re-forecasted and the estimated due date is adjusted according to the current progression of the project. For every revised expected due date, a new node is plotted on the chart. Connecting the interrelated nodes then produces a curve that clearly shows the progression of the milestone over time.

A milestone that sticks to the originally planned due date plots subsequently a horizontal line. A line that is going up indicated a delay in the schedule; a falling line means that completion will be ahead of schedule.

The chart shows on the vertical axis the due date of a milestone and on the horizontal axis the date on which the milestone has been reviewed. Obviously, the date on the horizontal axis can never be past the due date because the milestone is then either complete or late.

The advantages of the Milestone Trend Analysis are manifold and include:

  • Concise visualisation of the history and prognosis of milestones
  • Timely detection of deadline bottlenecks
  • Improvement of deadline awareness among project participants
  • It is an instrument to document project progress

The Milestone Trend Analysis is a great tool to focus the team communication on the milestones that really matter and prom(m)pt any further action if need be for a timely correction of the deviations.