As an organization incorporating remote working into its culture, keeping track of your project milestones is essential to ensure it's headed in the right direction. Working in different locations and time zones can be difficult, especially when working on a project. Since you are not in the exact location, keeping track of the project and each team member's work might be challenging. This is why you have to set project milestones to help measure your progress and ensure that you and your team are still on track with the project. This article will discuss what we mean by project milestones, how to keep track of them, setting them up, and why they are essential for any successful business.
What Are Project Milestones?
A milestone signifies a significant event in the history or development of something. Therefore a project milestone is an important event occurring during a project's life cycle. It is used to signify an essential phase of a project, like a start or end of a project. Overall, project milestones are markers that help you know if your project is on the right track. In the same way, a miles marker helps a driver know where they are and how far they have to go; project milestones help team leaders, employees and project managers know how a project is progressing.
While tracking a large project may be overwhelming, you can break it down into more minor phases and set the achievement of each step as a milestone.
What's the Difference Between Milestones and Tasks?
Project milestones mark important and specific points of a project, while tasks are events and mini-projects that need to be completed to reach a particular milestone. Tasks are activities assigned to each individual to complete to achieve a specific goal or milestone, and they might take time to complete since they have start and end times. However, milestones do not take time to complete because they show a point in time when a group of tasks has been completed.
Let's take it this way, a milestone is like a mile marker on a highway that helps indicate where you are, and tasks are the miles you must cover to reach your destination.
Why You Need to Track Project Milestones
Defining, managing and tracking a project schedule can become overwhelming. This is why milestones should be created for every project, no matter how big or small. Here are some of the reasons project milestones are essential:
Since milestones help you break projects into smaller meaningful parts, the team leader or project manager can estimate and allocate resources based on those phases. So instead of calculating the whole project cost, you can evaluate the needed resources based on each step. So when the project begins, they can assign their best workers to complete critical tasks to reach the said milestone.
Identify and Resolve Potential Issues.
When you keep track of your project, you can quickly identify various issues and resolve them as soon as possible. This works best when you break or divide your workload into smaller parts, making it easier to identify and tackle problems. This kind of strategy is good because if you don't identify potential issues in your project early, it will affect the overall delivery of that project. When they discover a problem, project managers know that they need to reassess crucial factors. These could be inefficient workers, poor planning, inadequate funding, using the wrong tools, etc. Furthermore, team leaders can analyze these areas to resolve issues and get their team on track to reach the next milestone.
Adjust Project Duration
Another advantage of setting and tracking project milestones is to either extend or shorten the duration or timing of a project. Since setting milestones gives you precise details of the project, including its goals and objectives, workforce, resources and other essential elements. All this will provide you with an accurate estimate of the project, which can help you decide whether you need to adjust the project duration.
Teams achieving their milestones ahead of schedule could bring forward their project deadlines, while teams struggling to reach checkpoints might need to extend theirs.
Create a Clear Project Plan
One important reason to track your project is to help you and your team create a clear project plan. Handling a big project can be tricky, so you must develop milestones to break the work into smaller pieces. This way, you can create a plan for each phase and how to achieve it.
Keep Your Team Motivated.
Keeping track and marking project milestones can help you keep your team members motivated. By keeping track of your project and dividing them into smaller parts, each team members know what they are working towards. It also gives them a clear idea of the project's progress, streamlines team communication, and improves collaboration. Furthermore, team members can make suggestions and provide ideas on issues that might delay the team from reaching the milestone.
Keep Track of Your Project's Progress.
Working on a big project comes with its challenges and distractions. The considerable number of tasks can be incredibly overwhelming. With milestones, your team can focus only on the job needed to reach the next project phase. This helps you track your project's progress as you move it from one stage to another. Project management software makes it easier to keep everyone in the loop as projects progress from one stage to the next.
How to Track Project Milestones?
Since your team is not meeting physically, explaining the project vision, goal and strategies is the first step in achieving the project's overall plan. You and your team must understand the following;
- Understand the project
- The goals and objectives of the project
- What each team member is delivering
- timelines and quality of the project
- How will each deliverable affect the project goal
- Duration of the milestone
- Strategies to complete the milestone
- Communication channels
The above will ensure that your team has a good understanding of what is expected of them.
Create a Project Goal
The first thing you need to do is to have a project goal and objectives. This will give the team an idea of what you are working towards. Remember that these goals must be SMART(specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timebound). For example, the goal might be creating a new product or service. By creating a timeline for your project, you can easily track your project and work towards your goal.
Milestones mark the important project phases and act as a checkpoint to successfully meet the project's goal. For example, if you are launching a new product, the timeline for completing market research, product website, marketing advertising outreach, public relations, online marketing, etc., can be said to be significant milestones.
Assign Milestones Into Tasks and Subtasks
You can start by writing summaries for each key milestone and include tasks needed to complete that project phase. These tasks can be further broken down with a detailed description of each. After creating your goals and milestones and ensuring everybody on the team understands them, you can start dividing them into tasks and subtasks. This task and substack can be assigned to a specific group or an individual based on their area of expertise to see it through. For example, the market research milestone can be set to someone with deep knowledge of consumer behaviour, and the online marketing phase can be assigned to the marketing team.
Use a Gantt Chart to Visualize Milestones.
You can start visualizing your entire project timeline on one worksheet. People tend to commit to things they can see, which is why you should imagine your project timeline to help you increase productivity and collaboration.
One of the ways to visualize your project milestones is to use the Gantt chart method. It is a tool often used in project management. The Gantt chart is one of the most popular and practical ways of showing activities (tasks or events) displayed against time. It uses horizontal bars as a representation of the project timeline. The timeline goes on the horizontal axis, while the task is listed on the vertical axis.
The chart allows you to see the following;
- The project schedule
- Task and substack
- task dependencies,
- Allocated time for every job
- When each activity begins and ends
- How long is each activity scheduled to last
- Where activities overlap with other activities, and by how much
- The start and end date of the whole project
Where You Need To Include A Milestone
Now that you know what a milestone in project management is, let's look at where you need a milestone in your project
- The start and end dates of the project and any specific project management phase
- Major project deliverables sent to the client for approval
- Task and subtask
- Approval from the project stakeholders
- Completion of a complicated and critical task in your project depends on
- Delivering an important presentation or deciding certain features in a stakeholder meeting
Best Remote Project Milestones Tracking Tools
Milestone planner is used and trusted by thousands of organizations to build and track plans. Furthermore, you can also create timelines, set milestones and collaborate with team members on projects. This app lets you connect and share your goals with your team, track deadlines, capture actions and create reports. In addition, users can assign milestones to responsible team members and give them permission to add notes, change milestone statuses and edit deadline dates.
monday.com is a project management tool trusted by 152,000+ customers worldwide, including Canva, Cocacola, Hubspot and many more. It is comprehensive for handling multiple projects, and users can manage and track project timelines or milestones. It comes with powerful tools like the Gantt chart–inspired timeline management feature, which provides teammates with a visual overview of their project and easily tracks its progress by adding milestones to the timeline. This helps increase team alignment, efficiency, and productivity by customizing any workflow to fit your needs.
With Monday.com. Users can comment and share tasks in the timeline, making it very easy to collaborate with teammates. It also comes with a built-in notification, ensuring you don't miss any changes in the project. For example, Monday.com is even better if you work on multiple projects. So you get to compare different workflows between each project and measure their progress against each other.
TeamGantt is another project management tool used for tracking project milestones and timelines. One advantage of TeamGantt is the Gantt chart–enabled optimization acts as a timeline management tool, allowing users to track time spent on tasks and projects. Another fantastic feature is that users can set milestones through the Gantt view. This way, users can track the completion of a phase in a larger project and mark off progress in short projects. You can also track multiple milestones within one timeline. Users can also see the status of all their projects with a single click and adjust tasks that are falling behind.
- Mobile friendly
- Project plan templates
- Easy collaboration
- Track project timeline
- Set milestones on multiple projects
- File storage
- Realtime progress
Trello is a software used by over two million teams worldwide for tracking project milestones. Unlike the others above, Trello follows a kanban-based organization system that displays all information visually using boards and cards. This way, users can follow what's going on with their project at a glance. Trello helps keep all the information your team needs to be organized and in one place. Users can also assign members, add due dates, leave comments, and more. Moreover, you can keep track of deadlines and set due dates on cards as they come up in the project timeline.
Also, keep your team accountable by adding members to cards for their projects and tasks. Finally, it integrates well with slack, zoom, and other remote work tools.
- Track project timeline
- Integrates with different tools
Asana is used by over a million teams in 190 countries to get the work done and ensure that tasks don't fall through the cracks. Its timeline management feature allows users to track deadlines and monitor task progress. You can also convert your spreadsheets into actionable timelines. Its automation tools help users streamline processes and reduce errors and time spent on routine tasks. It also comes with Gantt chart features, allowing users to track project timelines. Users can
- It integrates well with Zoom, slack and other tools.
- Work, project, and task management.
- Team management.
|Pricing (per user per month, if billed annually)||Free||$10.99||$24.99||Contact for quote|
|User Limit||15 users||Unlimited||Unlimited||Unlimited|
|Project Views||List, Board, Calendar||List, Board, Calendar and Timeline||List, Board, Calendar, Timeline, Portfolios and Goals||List, Board, Calendar, Timeline, Portfolios and Goals|
|Security||SOC 2 Type II, Multifactor authentication (MFA)||SOC 2 Type II, MFA, data deletion, Google SSO||SOC 2 Type II, MFA, data deletion, Google SSO||SOC 2 Type II, MFA, data deletion, Google SSO, SCIM, regional backups|
|Support||Community Forum, webinars, Guides, Support||Community Forum, webinars, Guide, Support, Customer Success options||Community Forum, webinars, Guide, Support, Customer Success options||Community Forum, webinars, Guide, Customer Success options, 24/7 Support|
Project milestones can seem overwhelming sometimes, but taking the time to understand the idea behind using these milestones makes project management more effortless. Creating and tracking project milestones help you break down projects into smaller parts, making it easy for team managers to assign tasks to each team member.
Project milestones make the completion of a project more manageable and more organized. Taking the time to go through this article will help you get started.