Project plans are maps that chart the course of your projects. As you build a plan, you’ll begin to map out the tasks, dependencies, task owners, and more. While you’re doing that, you won’t want to forget a very important component of any project plan: milestones.
Milestones are powerful components of a plan because they show key project events and map forward movement on projects. They act as signposts through the course of your project, as they help to ensure that you’re staying on track. Without milestones noted in your plans, you’re just tracking tasks and not necessarily following the right path in your project. But they can do more than just show progress—they can help you to communicate what’s happening with your project. TeamGantt’s milestones are part of its’ team communication software, so it synches with all of your project’s moving parts. Start building milestones for your projects with our free gantt software today!
Why Use Milestones?
No matter how large—or small—your project may be, you’ll want to track it on a couple of levels: by tasks and by major events, or milestones. Milestones can be used in your plans for a number of reasons:
No plan is ever complete without a list of deadlines! The best way to make them noticeable in a long plan is to make the deliverables milestones. Why do this? Well, it’s no secret that not everyone wants to pore over your beautiful project plan to find key dates. Most people—your teammates included—want a top level view of key dates and events. Milestones are great for this purpose, because they’re called out in a special way (usually with a diamond) in project plans. And, while you should list the tasks and effort leading to a milestone, you should present the milestone at the end of those tasks to signify a delivery, or even a presentation of the deliverable.
Are there days from now until the end of your project that could impact your project in some way? Maybe your team will need to be out of the office for a mandatory training. Maybe there is a board meeting that you’re expected to attend. It’s important to keep all of these important events in mind when you’re planning a project, because they could possibly impact your project schedule. So why not include them in your plan so you can track them all in one place?
Many projects rely on the work produced by external teams or partners in order to make forward progress. If you’re not tracking those external factors somewhere, there is a great chance you’ll forget to follow-up on it. So, if you’re working on a project that is dependent on someone or something outside of your project, list these deliverables as milestones.
Is it a Task or a Milestone?
You’re not building a rocket here, you’re building a plan and the components aren’t that complex. That said, distinguishing between tasks and major events can be difficult on larger projects, or if the project you’re managing just isn’t within the realm of your expertise (yet). If you ever get confused about what is or is not a milestone in your project plan, ask yourself these questions:
- Is this a task or a deliverable?
- Will this impact the final deadline?
- Is this an important moment in the project that will indicate forward progress?
- Does this need to be reviewed by stakeholders?
- Is this an event that impacts the project?
Answering questions like the above will help you determine if something should be a task or a milestone in a project. Essentially, you want to make the most important events of your project as milestones so that they are easily viewed and mapped by the project team. Milestones are given additional significance over tasks in a plan so that the PM can track the tasks while the team and stakeholders can focus on forward progress.
Create a Milestone in TeamGantt
Creating a plan in TeamGantt is simple, and if you’ve mapped out your overall process and plan with your team, you should have no problems identifying and adding tasks, milestones, owners, and dependencies. Adding a milestone (or converting a task to a milestone) is very easy in Team Gantt. Here’s a quick guide:
It’s that easy. And it’s even easier to track, because you’ve called out the most important points in your project. So, if for some reason, someone needed a high-level view of the project, you could list your key milestones, or just point to them in your gantt chart. Who would have thought that such a critical step could be so easy? For more information on project planning, download our free Project Planning Guide.
And with that, there is a milestone to complete here: Article Read. Nice work.
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