Running successful projects means sticking to a schedule and reaching certain moments in a project’s life cycle that are critical to reaching the end of the project. These moments, called milestones in the project management world, help you stay on track and reach the end of the project on time.
However, if you’re not tracking these milestones or, worse, you don’t even have them defined, you run the risk of your projects wandering all over the place, missing critical moments, and not finishing on schedule.
Luckily, we have a project milestone template that can help you find the milestones in your projects, track them for your whole team, and crush those deadlines.
What is a project milestones template?
A project milestone template helps project managers track project milestones throughout a project. These templates help you define the key moments for each project you’re managing to help you get a clear picture of where you are in any given project, what the important milestones are for each project, and what needs to be done to reach those milestones.
Project milestone templates can be used to give you a singular view of each project you’re managing. But, they can also be used to track milestones across all the projects you’re managing to help you get a full view of where you are in the various projects you’re in charge of. This gives you a way to identify any projects that need extra help or even where bottlenecks exist in your project management system.
Why it is important to define project milestones?
Project milestones are important because they represent moments where a project matures to the next level of the project. It’s these moments where an idea becomes a minimum viable product (MVP), where your MVP becomes a multi-featured demo, where your demo becomes a fully usable product, and so on. This means that milestones are a key part of project planning.
Beyond that, though, there are so many reasons why you’d want to define milestones for all your projects, even the smallest ones.
Create a complete project outline.
It’s one thing to create a project outline based on the desired outcome and who’s working on your team. But when you add in milestones that define the key moments of your project, you get an outline that captures the true essence of the project. It also highlights those moments that you need to reach in order to move to the next step. Not only does this help create accurate project plans, but it also helps you know who the key players will be during each stage of the project, ultimately leading to a clear project roadmap.
For example, if you’re building a product and you reach the milestone where the back-end has been completed, you know it’s time to bring in the front-end team. Similarly, if you’re managing a construction project, like building a house, you know the roofers won’t be needed till the rest of the exterior has been completed. This prevents you from bringing in teams before they’re needed, saving you money and them from the frustration that comes with showing up too early and not having anything to do.
Visualize project timeline.
Much like defining the milestones helps you create complete outlines, you can also use this information to create a highly accurate timeline of the project. And, because you’ve got the key moments highlighted, you can create visual models of the timeline using something like a Gantt chart (we’ve got a
you can use for this) that shows you how long each segment of the project should take. This gives you a way to quickly check in on projects and even makes it possible to create a complete visual timeline for all the projects you’re managing.
Stick to project schedule.
It’s really hard to stick to a project schedule when you’re not sure whether you’re on track or not. Milestones help you set a pace that pushes you towards smaller goals (the milestones) in your project. Rather than look at the whole project as one piece, you end up with smaller chunks in chronological order that don’t overwhelm your team. It’s much easier to know you’re 78% of the way towards a milestone than it is to see that you’re 2% of the way through the entire project. You can use a project timeline template to help you fully develop the schedule for the project.
Inform all team members of key milestones.
Milestones give you a clear way of communicating the key moments to your entire team. By defining those moments, you gain a way to let everyone on the project team know where the project needs to be by certain dates. This information should be passed on to the team as early as possible to make sure everyone is clear on the milestones, when they need to be completed, and whether or not they need to be involved in a particular section of the project or not.
Gain overview of project and task dependencies.
This is another big piece of the importance of milestones (and something we’ve already touched on a little). Milestones help you understand any task dependencies that exist within a project, which also help you determine the
for the project (the shortest possible route through a project). Dependencies are sections of a project that require a previous task to be completed before you can move on. With clearly defined milestones, the dependencies become obvious and you can start creating a logical order for your projects. It’s like the example from above, you can’t bring in the roofers until the roof itself has been built.
👉 Get started with this project milestones template.
After you copy this template, you can start utilizing this free project milestones template for your projects and business.
How to set project milestones with Coda's milestone template.
Step 1: Adding a New Project
Starting with the
page, you can add a new project that your organization is taking on by clicking the
button. In the
table you can add details for your project like
column will be automatically be filled in once milestones related to your project are added.
Step 2: Creating Milestones for your Projects
Next, you can add in milestones for your correlated projects in the
table. By clicking the
button you can add in details for your milestone like
. Milestones allow your organization to see prioritize certain objectives before others based on their timeline.
To see a visual representation of the milestones you can visit the
page where you can see a timeline that is organized by
and a timeline that is organized by
Extra Steps: People, Teams, Roles
To keep track of the teams and people that are a part of you organization you can visit the
page where there are tables to define
and assign each person that is in your organization to a team and role.
Project milestones template FAQs
What are the milestones of a project?
Milestones are specific points in a project that can be used to measure progress. These can be anything at all in a project, but tend to be key points like important dates (like start dates and end dates), the completion of an important feature, or gaining approval from stakeholders.
They’re designed to help determine what moments in your project are important to pushing forward. Even things like meetings and presentations can be milestones, as they likely require the project to be at a certain point before you can do the presentation. The good thing is that you can customize milestones to specific projects, so you’re not limited to using one set of milestones (like beginning, middle, and end) for each project.
What is the purpose of a milestone?
The purpose of a milestone is to act as a way point that indicates you’ve crossed a major point in a project. Milestones are similar to mile markers on a trail, they let you know where you are in relation to the end of the project and help you understand whether you’re on track or falling behind. You also gain visibility into how your team is performing and whether or not you’re experiencing any bottlenecks in your workflow.
What is the difference between a milestone and a checkpoint?
The biggest difference between milestones and checkpoints is that milestones are key moments in a project, like finishing up a critical component. Checkpoints, on the other hand, are moments when the team stops, assesses progress against the project timeline, and makes any necessary adjustments to workflow or similar things.
Checkpoints are used mainly to make sure that everything is going the way that it should be going, whereas milestones are specific moments that need to happen before the next step can occur.