How to Use Milestones to Track Progress (An Experts Take)

How to use milestones

Milestones are a core part of a businesses workflow and are very important for tracking progress throughout different initiatives that a team, group, or individual may be working on.  As a wise product manager once said what gets measured ends up getting improved and what better way keep track of your work than with document milestones on a project gantt chart.

Project milestones are especially important for projects that require multiple phases with deliverables on  a tight deadline and joining milestones together with tasks is something that Nifty does incredibly well. From the beginning the vision of Nifty has been to make complicated workflow situations: like project management, task management and workflow simple. Their is no better way to do that than be connecting tasks with milestones and enabling different viewpoints so team members can see exactly what is needed when!

Our team at Nifty compiled a list of experts in the project management and workflow industry along with Nifty users to see and discover some of the most efficient ways one can use milestones in their workflow from looking at piers, colleagues and Nifty users in a variety of professional industries across the cross spectrum.

Without further ado here are some actionable milestone use cases that you can adopt for your needs: 

How to use milestones

How Do You Use Milestones At Your Company To Track Progress On Initiatives?

Name – Skyler Calibey

Companyhttps://niftypm.com

LinkedInhttps://www.linkedin.com/in/sky-calibey-551600107/

“Milestones are used to track feature releases and marketing schedules to ensure we have clarity on both current status and future plans.”

Name – Dennis Yu

Companyhttps://dennis-yu.com

LinkedInhttps://www.linkedin.com/in/dennisyu/

“The CEO of American Airlines once told me how he ensures alignment between the vision of the company all the way down to the tasks being done by the lowest level workers.

At the top level, it may be to become the world’s leading airline. That breaks down into measurable objectives on customer satisfaction, job created, miles flown, profitability generated, age of the fleet, and so forth.

Below each company level objective are functional objectives– like my team running digital marketing (which was called internet marketing back then). And at the functional level, we created projects for my managers that tied back up to the company-wide objectives. Launching a new website with features that allowed for online booking, a smoother experience, faster response times on emails, and so forth.

Each of these projects had major tasks that were due at certain dates– milestones, if you will– necessary for the whole plan to be successful.

And milestones broke down into specific tasks that individuals have to complete, else we risk missing the milestone.

We used a combination of project management tools in a modified SCRUM methodology to tie the corporate objectives all the way down to the task-level execution. Thus, simple 5 minute daily meetings to see what was done yesterday, what needs to be done today, and what blockages there are for any team member.

While we had software like MS Project Central, bugzilla, basecamp, Tivoli, Jira, etc– the most important part was the human communication to troubleshoot delays and issues. And this is what we see even today– that success on milestones is less about how many milestones we have, how we organize milestones, or what tools we use– but having smart, dedicated managers who care enough to make the adjustments along the way.”

Name
Chris Makara

Companyhttps://bulk.ly

LinkedInhttps://www.linkedin.com/in/chrismakara/

“With most initiatives it’s important to not only set goals, but also track your progress. When setting goals, I like to start with the end in mind and work backwards to see what needs to be done to reach that goal. Typically, these items become the milestones that need to be hit in order to get there. Ideally, you will want to have dates set for the milestones to ensure that you are on target where you need to be. These are a great measuring stick to see if more effort is needed to reach your goal. And without these milestones, it’s hard to gauge your progress on large initiatives.”

NameMelih Oztalay

Companyhttps://smartfindsmarketing.com

LinkedInhttps://www.linkedin.com/in/melihoztalay/

“As you can imagine our digital marketing agency has to track the progress of client marketing projects and advertising campaigns. In order to execute on this  you need to start with a plan that was based on research. Using milestones helps to identify the what and then the when an activity and task will be completed. This helps to achieve the necessary business goals in the fastest time. After all, time is money. In this process high priority tasks are identified initially. That is then followed by keeping track of deliverables during the timeline of the project. The the third of this process is to be sure the project is within budget and that is tracked as a separate milestone. This process impacts the planning, execution, and reporting of your project in a positive way.”

Name
Kadi Arula

Companyhttps://www.vertexsms.com

LinkedInhttps://www.linkedin.com/company/jsc-vertex/mycompany/

“Our overall goal for VertexSMS.com is to improve ratings and organic traffic, to educate new and existing consumers about our services. We use milestones to track the progress of our several SEO tactics.

I work directly with Vita Frolova, our Head of SEO, to set quarterly goals. We use milestones for competitive analysis, backlink building, guest post and blog post content goals and outreach for new opportunities.

For example, one of our current milestones is to reach our target domain rating (DR) for VertexSMS.com by the end of Q3. We have set weekly and monthly goals to make sure we are on track to reach the overall goals.”

NameEdlyn Cotaoco

Companyhttps://www.instasize.com

“Personally, I like having a goal and working backwards on how to achieve it. As an outreacher, I know what my deliverables and KPIs are on a monthly basis. I try to ensure I hit those monthly targets that the company asks of me. Should I have more than what the company asks for, I try to push the needle and see how far I can exceed my limits.”

Name Virginia Zacharaki

Companyhttps://moosend.com/

LinkedInhttps://www.linkedin.com/in/virginia-zacharaki/

“Using milestones works wonders when it comes to keeping a team motivated to reach its end game. As our team handles a lot of deadlines and projects that involve external partners, our secret would be closely monitoring deadlines and having a clear view of individual tasks communicated through email and in writing. Deadlines can give us a clear view of the timeframe in which a team member is expected to complete a task, allowing us to manage their workload better, while emails are the perfect tool to ensure transparency and great communication within the team.”

Name Yash Chawlani

Companyhttps://merlinmarketing.co/

LinkedInhttps://www.linkedin.com/in/yashchawlani/

“As Darwin stated; “One has to make small incremental progresses in order to survive”, and this applies to businesses as well. Continuous improvements require taking initiatives to incrementally better business processes. The success or failure of an initiative is determined by how it performs.

Being a B2B marketing service provider, we make use of three types of milestones to track progress of initiatives we undertook to improve our business. These are:

Quantitative Change – This involves tracking performance of each team member in terms of the total monthly word count they put out. Whether the initiative caused a positive or negative change in their performance is the first thing to be considered.

Qualitative Change – This involves gauging the quality of core writing attributes showcased in the work done by our team members, Keyword density, grammar, delivery, conciseness, simplicity, etc are some of the parameters we consider. Any initiative undertaken must not negatively affect this metric.

Fulfilment – We use this milestone to gauge how good or fulfilled team members feel when working on a specific project or with a particular client. In our line of work, the overall quality and level of output also depends on how fulfilled and happy a team member is producing a certain type of content.

Using these milestones we are able to find out which initiatives help us raise the overall performance of the business while ensuring our human resources are utilised and handled in the best manner.

So small initiatives are undertaken regularly to test out how they impact the three sets of determined milestones. If an initiative leads to breaching of all three milestones, it is inducted in our business’s workings.

We use the same cycle to test out other initiatives, those that breach the predetermined milestones are inducted otherwise discarded and the cycle starts again.

We prioritize the quantitative and fulfilment milestones more as gains made there have shown to make up for the small drops in terms of quantitative output. Thus, small improvements help us evolve and perform better with time.

In an ever changing SEO and Content Marketing landscape, having capable, productive, healthy and happy human resources is of utmost importance. We invest in their growth and wellbeing and in turn they drive our business’s growth.”

Name – Andre Oentoro

Companyhttps://breadnbeyond.com

“We use project milestones mostly to show key events and map forward movement in our project plan– so we can act swiftly if and when problems occur. In our project management, milestones are also one of the most powerful ways to communicate with team members and stakeholders. They define project objectives in clear terms, estimate when they’ll be completed, and can be used to motivate the team.

That way, we can define what we want to achieve, and when. This keeps our team members informed about their responsibilities, gives stakeholders an easy way to see progress, and lets the team collaborate with other teams on dependent tasks (and it keeps everyone on the same page). In other words, we can easily track progress on initiatives, manage internal resources, and ultimately determine if projects are meeting business objectives.”

Name – Ebnu Sudarso

Companyhttps://milkwhale.com

“Milestones play a big role in our company performance and progress. They’re important indicators of success or need of improvement. Without them, we would not be able to progress and move forward. They help us define our company goals— both short and long term. They also help our team strive for the best possible and keep them on track. Overall, they’re an integral part of our company’s growth.

With milestones, we are able to figure out how long it took us to achieve certain goals, how our marketing campaigns are performing, how our sales performance is, and how our company is doing as a whole. Achieving milestones shows that we are on the right track. Whereas lack of achieving milestones means that we might need to improve in certain areas and change our strategies.”

Name – Natasha Rei

Companyhttps://explainerd.com

“Milestone tracking performance at our company is not just about making charts and graphs. We use dashboard software to generate reports efficiently. This gives us an overview of the members of the team and what they are working on. The milestone displays a status for each project, including their progress in detail which allows us to track how well the company is progressing.

We use milestones to keep track of project progress. Milestones represent major events on a project, such as key achievements, the end of a development cycle, or product release. We usually set up these predetermined targets 1-3 months prior. This allows everyone involved to prepare a strategic plan to achieve specific milestones. We also do smaller milestones to make sure that we meet deadlines and adequately allocate resources towards them before they come due.”

NameJessica Ulloa

Companyhttps://www.myperfectresume.com

LinkedInhttps://www.linkedin.com/in/jessica-ulloa/

“When coming up with new initiatives, we first analyze them through the SMART criteria. Meaning, we make sure the initiative or project is Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and has a Time-Bound. Through the SMART criteria, we can estimate the time it will take to fully achieve the new initiative or project and the steps required. These steps are known as our milestones which we use to keep track of the progress. Milestones dates are subject to change; we might hit them sooner or take longer than expected. What’s more important than the date is ensuring that the milestone is completed in the most efficient & effective way, as each milestone is fundamental for the project’s success.”

NameVikas Kalwani

Company https://userp.io

“We divide a goal into various milestones – one leading to another. This way, we are able to track the progress on core initiatives.”

NameZoe Dayan

Companyhttps://monday.com

“When planning a long-term project, like preparing to speak at a conference, I create a timeline or Gantt chart and mark the milestones to help me make sure I am on track. This way anyone else involved in the initiative can know when I should be done with an important part of the process.”

Name – Ana Karic

Companyhttps://www.anakaric.com

LinkedInhttps://www.linkedin.com/in/ana-grasic-karic/

“Setting milestones is very powerful because they demonstrate the progress in your project plan. I use them to stay motivated, to judge priorities. One thing to remember before setting milestones is that they are different from goals. That can be pretty confusing and often lead to impulsive and wrong decisions.

I use various tools to set, track…and then celebrate an accomplished milestone :). The idea is to set reasonable predictions that can be accomplished by a certain period of time. The next steps are to brainstorm the best ways to achieve them and define actionable tasks. Personally, I like to set tasks on a weekly basis, but measure milestones at the end of the month, at the earliest.

If something isn’t going according to the plan, I tend to find what’s blocking it, if there’s something that can be done, before I settle for a different milestone.”

Name
Nandini Sharma

Companyhttps://www.proofhub.com

LinkedInhttps://www.linkedin.com/in/nandini-sharma-749b5285/

“We primarily use milestones to track our software feature releases and plan our internal business goals. Milestones help us gain a definite perspective on the progress of a release, so that work dependencies can be preemptively managed. Alongside milestones, we also use the concept of baselines that clearly differentiates the planned time versus the actual time, so that project delays can be foreseen. A typical software feature takes about 2-3 milestones to be fully realized, consisting of pre-release, production and sign-off meetings.

Milestones enable us to dynamically prioritize multiple tasks for keeping the flow of the project streamlined.”

NameArmen Tevikyan

Companyhttps://www.snacknation.com

LinkedInhttps://www.linkedin.com/in/armen-tevikyan-2794bb1b0/

“I set a team decision as a powerful milestone for the companies initiatives.”

NameFred Wilson

Companyhttps://www.ntaskmanager.com/

“We using milestones to celebrate small wins for our long term projects, and set them to get a better direction to reach to a bigger goal.”

How to use milestones

Final Thoughts on How to Use Milestones to Track Progress

Teams across practically every different industry use Milestones to be more productive and its great to see that whether it be marketing, sales or product – milestones serve as a common denominator to get work done.  Their is no better tool create milestones with than Nifty and our free plan for unlimited users makes it incredibly easy and frictionless to sign up and get started 🚀