How to set and achieve project milestones in Teamwork Projects

Posted by: Gráinne Forde /

With 37% of projects failing due to a lack of clearly defined objectives and milestones to measure their progress, it’s fair to say that the Milestones feature in Teamwork Projects is one you can’t afford to ignore.

But what are Milestones and why are they so important? Within Teamwork Projects, a Milestone is a target date by which you’re aiming to have reached an important objective or goal in your project. Milestones are important markers within project schedules that help to create momentum and drive projects along to completion by breaking your big-picture goals down into smaller, more manageable chunks.

As your team and other stakeholders can only get an accurate view of a project’s health if they are looking at the right signs, choosing the right objectives to use as Milestones is extremely important.

Along with obvious milestones like the end of a project, here are a few examples of what Milestones in Teamwork Projects might represent:

  • Project phases
  • Deadlines
  • Client approvals
  • Important presentations or meetings

When it comes to best practices for setting and achieving Milestones for your own projects, there are a couple of important factors that you should take into consideration:

1. Timing

Ensure you set a clearly defined timeframe for your Milestone by choosing a due date. Without a concrete timeframe, you’ll be unable to tell whether your team is running behind schedule, making your Milestone less helpful as an indicator of your project’s progress. It’s also important that the deadlines you choose are realistic so that your team has enough time to complete high-quality work and isn’t put under unnecessary stress.

2. Frequency

Don’t label every task as a Milestone, as overusing Milestones can actually diminish their importance. (When everything is marked as high priority, nothing is.) On the other hand, not having any Milestones at all can make your project seem overwhelming and make it harder to see how the work is progressing. It’s best to space Milestones out so they don’t all fall at the same time, and use them carefully by controlling their frequency.

3. Visibility

On a well-run project, everyone has clear visibility into the Milestones that have been set — from project managers and team members to clients and other stakeholders. Using Teamwork Projects, you can attach related tasks to each Milestone and track how everything is progressing, which helps you to anticipate changes, distribute tasks more effectively, and get a better understanding of what’s working and what’s not. You also have the option to set privacy on any Milestones you add to your projects, which is particularly useful when you’re working with clients and want to keep certain internal milestones private to your team.

4. Accountability

Missing a Milestone can be detrimental to your project. To prevent this from happening, there’s a simple formula: every Milestone in Teamwork Projects is assigned to a specific member of your team. You can also use change history for Milestones to see every single change that was made along the way, and by whom, so you can easily track your Milestone’s journey and maintain full accountability.

Adding a Milestone in Teamwork Projects

In Teamwork Projects, you can create Milestones within individual projects. Here’s how:

Go to the Milestones tab of your project:

Adding a Milestone in Teamwork Projects 1

From there, click Add Milestone in the top right:

Adding a Milestone in Teamwork Projects 2

In the New Milestone modal, you can add information about your Milestone such as its name, due date, who’s responsible, and more options which you can learn about in this help doc.

You can also quickly add a new Milestone no matter which part of your site you’re currently in by using the Quick Add button in the top right above the search bar and clicking Milestone:

Adding a Milestone in Teamwork Projects 3

You can also do this using our keyboard shortcuts by pressing Q on your keyboard to bring up the menu, then pressing M.

When you add a Milestone this way, you will first need to pick which project you want to add it to.

Adding a Milestone in Teamwork Projects 4

You can then add all the details of your new Milestone — all without leaving the screen you were viewing:

Adding a Milestone in Teamwork Projects 5

Even more tips and tricks for using Milestones

  • Save time by adding multiple milestones to your project at once.
  • Viewing milestone reports is a fundamental part of managing projects. The ability to export milestone reports from Teamwork Projects into different file formats increases shareability — making it easier to provide clients with progress updates.
  • Use Milestones with your task lists to improve project planning and help everyone on the team to visualize the bigger picture. Once you have created a task list in Teamwork Projects, you can add a Milestone to it to give yourself an overarching goal to work towards.
  • When you’re planning your time, you want project Milestones to be front and center. When you add Milestones to Teamwork Projects, they will automatically appear in your calendar on the date they are due (you can also export milestones to your iCal feed).
  • Need to discuss the status of a Milestone with your team? The ability to comment on Milestones in Teamwork Projects helps to keep all of your important Milestone-related discussions together in one place.
  • Over the course of a long project, timelines and goals can often change. If you need to double-check when a particular decision was made or investigate if the scope of your Milestone has changed, change history for Milestones has the answers. This feature gives you a full account of changes to any aspect of the Milestone’s, such as due date, comments, tags, task lists, and more.

To learn more about using the Milestones feature, check out these help docs. If you have any questions, just send a mail to support@teamwork.com and we’ll be happy to help.

We’d love to hear what you think. Do you have any tips for setting and achieving project milestones? Let us know in the comments below.

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Grainne Forde
Marketing specialist

4 Comments

Richard Kerridge

Thanks! This is very useful but just one point on “Visibility” 😉 Every project I work on for clients I find that their execs tend to glaze over when I show them lists of tasks or milestones. They always want a milestone timeline chart with the project status, current risks and issues. Anything you can do to better visualize the Milestones on a “timeline” view would save, I suspect, many of us PMs a fair bit of time recreating this in something like Office Timeline, etc.

Reply
Katriona O'Mahony

Hi Richard,

Thanks for taking the time to give us this feedback. I’ve asked one of our customer success managers to reach out and get some more info on this from you so we can feed it back to the product team.

Thanks
Katriona

Reply
Karl Rosencrants

Richard,
Have you tried looking at your Projects in Chart view (from the Projects section)?
If your Project has a start date and a due date, it will be visible in the Chart view. It will also show every Milestone on the timeline style chart. Late Milestones are red, completed milestones are green and up-coming are in orange.
I do not think that this Chart view shows the project status, current risks or issues, but this might be a better starting point for you??

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