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Deliverable vs. Milestone — What's the Difference?

By Maham Liaqat & Fiza Rafique — Updated on May 15, 2024
Deliverables are tangible outputs of a project, whereas milestones mark significant progress points or events within a project timeline.
Deliverable vs. Milestone — What's the Difference?

Difference Between Deliverable and Milestone


Key Differences

A deliverable in project management is a specific, tangible product or result produced as part of a project, such as a report, a piece of software, or a building. Whereas, a milestone is a key point or event within the project timeline that represents significant progress, such as the completion of a project phase.
Deliverables are often the end results of tasks and are used to measure the project's progress toward its final goals. On the other hand, milestones may not be tangible but are crucial for tracking the timeline and ensuring the project stays on schedule.
The completion of deliverables can sometimes mark a milestone; however, not all deliverables are milestones. In contrast, milestones can occur without the completion of a deliverable, such as reaching an important decision point or approval stage.
Deliverables are often subject to approval by stakeholders and can lead to subsequent phases of a project. Whereas milestones often signify approval points themselves, allowing for the next phase of work to begin.
While deliverables are essential for achieving project outcomes and are closely monitored during project reviews, milestones are used as checkpoints to assess the health and timing of the project, making sure it is following the planned path.

Comparison Chart


Tangible outputs or results of project tasks
Significant points or events in a project


To fulfill specific project objectives
To mark project progress and key achievements


Tangible and specific
Conceptual and often symbolic

Role in Project Management

Measured as output and quality indicators
Used as scheduling and control points


Software product, marketing brochure, new device
Project kickoff, phase completion, final review

Compare with Definitions


Essential for achieving the project's goals.
Delivering the marketing brochure on time was crucial for the campaign's launch.


Marks significant points within the project's timeline.
Achieving the prototype demonstration was a major milestone for the project.


Often requires several tasks or activities to complete.
The development team completed multiple coding sprints to create the deliverable.


Often used as a checkpoint for stakeholder updates.
At the milestone meeting, stakeholders reviewed the project's current status.


Can be a document, a part of a software, a building, or any other physical or digital product.
The construction project's deliverable was a fully renovated office building.


Indicates progress but is not a physical deliverable.
Reaching the design freeze milestone allowed the team to begin production.


A deliverable is a tangible or intangible good or service produced as a result of a project that is intended to be delivered to a customer (either internal or external). A deliverable could be a report, a document, a software product, a server upgrade or any other building block of an overall project.


Can be related to achieving a certain number of features or reaching a decision.
The milestone was set for completing the first phase of user testing.


To bring or transport to the proper place or recipient; distribute
Deliver groceries.
Deliver the mail.


Helps in project planning and tracking.
The project timeline was segmented by several key milestones.


To surrender (someone or something) to another; hand over
Delivered the criminal to the police.


A milestone is a numbered marker placed on a route such as a road, railway line, canal or boundary. They can indicate the distance to towns, cities, and other places or landmarks; or they can give their position on the route relative to some datum location.


To secure (something promised or desired), as for a candidate or political party
Campaign workers who delivered the ward for the mayor.


A stone marker set up on a roadside to indicate the distance in miles from a given point.


To throw or hurl
The pitcher delivered the ball.


An important event, as in a child's development, the history of a nation, or the advancement of knowledge in a field; a turning point.


To strike (a blow).


A stone milepost (or by extension in other materials), one of a series of numbered markers placed along a road at regular intervals, typically at the side of the road or in a median.


To express in words; declare or utter
Deliver a lecture.


(idiomatic) An important event in a person's life or career, in the history of a nation, in the life of some project, etc.


To give birth to
She delivered a baby boy this morning.


To place milestones along (a road, etc.).


To assist or aid in the birth of
The midwife delivered the baby.


(idiomatic) To plan out a project as a series of major steps.


To assist (a woman) in giving birth
The doctor delivered her of twins.


A stone serving the same purpose as a milepost.


To give forth or produce
An oil well that delivered thousands of barrels a day.


An event or accomplishment marking a significant advance in an endeavor; a notable achievment; as, putting a man in orbit was a major milestone on the way to the moon.


To set free, as from captivity, peril, or evil
Deliver a captive from slavery.


Stone post at side of a road to show distances


Able to be delivered.
The packages were not deliverable because the roads had flooded out.


A significant event in your life (or in a project)


The tangible end product; that which will be delivered.
Due to inclement weather, we will be unable to provide our deliverables.
We packaged the deliverable, a program called FLOOD.EXE, in an installer file.


Capable of being, or about to be, delivered; necessary to be delivered.


Something that can be provided as the product of development;
Under this contract the deliverables include both software and hardware


Suitable for or ready for delivery


A specific result or product that is produced during the project.
The final deliverable of the project was a completed software application.


Subject to review and approval by project stakeholders.
The project's final deliverable was submitted for stakeholder approval last Thursday.

Common Curiosities

How do milestones help in project management?

Milestones help in tracking progress, scheduling, and aligning the team and stakeholders with the project timeline.

How are deliverables approved?

Deliverables are typically approved through a review process involving stakeholders or clients.

What are examples of typical project deliverables?

Typical deliverables include reports, software products, marketing materials, and constructed buildings.

What are the implications if a milestone is missed?

Missing a milestone can lead to delays, cost overruns, and may require adjustments to the project plan.

What is the main difference between a deliverable and a milestone?

A deliverable is a tangible output required by the project, while a milestone marks significant progress points within the project.

What does reaching a milestone imply in a project?

Reaching a milestone implies that a significant phase or component of the project has been completed successfully.

How are deliverables identified in a project?

Deliverables are identified during the planning phase and are outlined in the project scope and documentation.

What role do milestones play in risk management?

Milestones are pivotal for risk management as they provide opportunities to assess and mitigate risks at critical points in the project.

Can a deliverable be a milestone?

Yes, the completion of a major deliverable can also be considered a milestone if it signifies a significant achievement within the project.

Are milestones always time-based?

While often time-based, milestones can also be event-based, such as the approval of a critical document or completion of a key test.

How detailed should a deliverable be in project planning?

Deliverables should be detailed clearly to align team efforts and expectations, including specifications and desired outcomes.

Can there be multiple deliverables within a single milestone?

Yes, a milestone can encompass the completion of multiple deliverables, especially in larger projects.

What happens when a deliverable does not meet the required standards?

If a deliverable doesn't meet standards, it typically undergoes revision or enhancement based on feedback until it meets the criteria.

How often are milestones set in a typical project timeline?

The frequency of milestones depends on the project's duration and complexity but is generally set to reflect significant project phases or achievements.

Is the completion of every milestone celebrated in projects?

The celebration of milestones depends on the project's culture and significance of the milestone, though acknowledging them can boost morale.

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Author Spotlight

Written by
Maham Liaqat
Co-written by
Fiza Rafique
Fiza Rafique is a skilled content writer at, where she meticulously refines and enhances written pieces. Drawing from her vast editorial expertise, Fiza ensures clarity, accuracy, and precision in every article. Passionate about language, she continually seeks to elevate the quality of content for readers worldwide.

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