Master Schedule vs Milestone Schedule infographic

Master Schedule vs Milestone Schedule – Project schedule, baseline schedule, master schedule, milestone schedule and work schedule are widely used concepts in the field of time management. Project teams create work schedules in order to understand what work will be completed in which period.

Basically, a project cannot be performed without a proper work schedule. Because scheduling establishes a system to manage the activities, resources, deliverables and the project goals in a timeline.

In project management, master schedule, project schedule and milestone schedule are three different schedules used for coordinating and tracking all of the different components of a project. Although each type of schedule plays an important role in completing a project on time and budget, they are different concepts.

In this article, we will discuss important time management concepts and their key differences.

For better understanding, let’s take a glance at the definitions.

Master Schedule, Milestone Schedule, Project Schedule

Before to start, let’s discuss the basic terms used in time management.


According to PMBOK Guide, a milestone is “a significant event in the project usually completion of a major deliverable.”

Milestones have a fixed date but no duration.

Below are some examples of milestones in a project

  • Project Start and End
  • Start and Completion of each phase and/or discipline
  • Kick of Meeting
  • Site Handover
  • Sign of Contract


A schedule represents the planned dates for performing activities and for meeting deliverables.

A schedule is a communication tool used to discuss what work needs to be done in order to complete the project.

Schedules are typically created at the beginning of a project and updated and reported regularly.

Project Scheduling Steps

Before to discuss the differences between master schedule and milestone schedule, let’s take a look at project schedulig steps.

An executable schedule can be created by following the project scheduling steps given below;

  • Creating and developing the Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) of the project
  • Defining work packages and major project deliverables
  • Defining the tasks
  • Defining relationships
  • Defining and assigning resources
  • Analyzing the critical path of the project

Development of the work breakdown structure (WBS) is one of the most important steps in scheduling. Because it creates a framework for a proper schedule.

Work packages are represented as the lowest level of detail within the WBS and the activities are grouped and listed under the work packages.

Activities are the actions which have a specific start date, end date, and duration. Relationships are the logic ties between the activities. They determine which activity will start or finish first in what type of logic.

Resources are materials, labor, and machinery required to perform the activities. Once they are estimated, they are assigned to the activities.

The last step is analyzing the schedule if it is realistic or not. You analyze and control the critical path of the schedule.

Milestone Schedule

A Milestone Schedule is a summary level schedule, which identifies the major project milestones.

Milestone planning focuses on milestones instead of activities. Major deliverables, significant events, contractual obligations, and the company’s strategic goals are demonstrated in milestone schedules.

Milestone schedules are one of the most important schedules that must be maintained and referred through the project life cycle. Simply put, a milestone schedule is a summary level schedule that helps the project team to review and track all the major project milestones that may exist during the execution of the project.

Master Schedule & Why is a Master Schedule Important?

A project manager’s primary responsibility is to complete the project on time and budget along with meeting the client’s requirements. Therefore scheduling the activities and resources efficiently plays a key role in any project’s success. The project master schedule is one of the most effective tools that help the project manager to perform his business.

Master Schedule is a summary level project schedule which includes the major project deliverables, work breakdown structure components, and key project milestones.

A project master schedule is an early communication tool among stakeholders which shows the major deliverables, key milestones, and summary of work breakdown structure activities.

Simply put, a master schedule is prepared for tracking the project at a summary level.

Project Schedule

A Project Schedule represents the planned dates for performing activities and the planned dates for meeting milestones.
The project schedule details what work needs to be done and which resources must be assigned in order to perform the tasks in a given time period. Engineering, Procurement, and Execution parts are detailed in Project Schedules.

The project schedule should be updated regularly in order to monitor the project’s performance.

Master Schedule vs Milestone Schedule

  • The detail level of a milestone schedule is lower than the detail level of a master schedule.
  • A milestone schedule includes major project milestones. On the other hand, a master schedule is a summary level project schedule which includes milestones, major deliverables, and work breakdown schedule components.


In order to keep track of all of the different components of a project, project teams create a number of schedules in different detail levels. Milestone Schedules and Master Schedules are summary level schedules prepared for early communication among stakeholders. These schedules are used to demonstrate the main strategy of the project. On the other hand, a project schedule is a detailed schedule which is prepared to show the detailed tasks required to complete the project and updated regularly to monitor the project’s performance.

In this article, we discuss the concept; master schedule vs milestone schedule. We hope that it will be useful for professionals and team members working in the field of time management.

Are you using work schedules in your project? Which software are you using while developing a schedule? You can share your ideas and experiences through the comments box in below.

See Also

Work Breakdown Structure Example

External Reference

Scheduling 101-the basic of best practice


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