May 23, 2017

PMP Exam Tip: What is the Difference between Project Objectives and Milestones?

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by Markus

May 23, 2017

When preparing for the Project Management Professional (PMP)® Exam you will first come across objectives and milestones in your project charter. Here is some help in understanding them better, so that you can properly answer PMP Exam sample questions:

A Project Objective is the goal of a project; what is the project trying to accomplish and what are the parameters to do so? Project objectives can be such measurable items as schedule, cost, quality, performance, stakeholder satisfaction, or whatever will be used to determine the project success. Some examples of project objectives are; the project will be completed no later than March 2018, the budget for the project is $5M, the reject rate during production must remain less than 3%, this version of the software will run 25% faster than the prior version, and stakeholder satisfaction will be maintained at no less than 98%.

Milestones are points in time or scheduled events such as the end of a project phase within a project. Milestones can be used to evaluate a project to determine if the project is performing as planned, is the project meeting the project objectives?
Milestones are similar to regular scheduled activities as they use the same structure and attributes, but do not have any duration defined since milestones are a point in time (Duration =0). Milestones can be included in a project in the manner that best fits the project. For example a milestone may be scheduled in a project once a month to calculate the cost variance or schedule variance, or a milestone may be scheduled at the end of project phases to determine if the project is progressing as planned.

The thing to remember for the exam is:  project objectives are developed to define the goals of the project and are typically something that can be measured and milestones are points in time or events within a project that are used to evaluate a project and to determine if the project is performing as planned.

A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide) fifth edition discusses both Project Objectives and Milestones in sections,, &

About Markus

Markus Kopko, PMP

20+ Years of Relevant Experience

Markus has more than 20 years of management and leadership experience, including more than 18 years in Project and Program Management.


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One of Markus's central objectives and motivations is to implement and deploy the PMI project philosophy and a PMI-based project management methodology in his company.

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Markus set up a few PMI certification related LinkedIn groups and is co-administrator of the biggest and most active PMP related LinkedIn group:'I want to be a PMP'. Markus is also one of the most viewed contributors in PMP and PMI related content/questions at Quora. He also founded his own Project Management related website at

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