Gantt Chart Milestones
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- October 1, 2019 Updated
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Gantt charts are excellent project planning tools, but many are limited in how they track milestones. Recognizing a need, we’ve created a free, downloadable Gantt Chart Milestones template. With it, you can plan your next project by concentrating on its milestones, scheduling them easily and viewing their progress quickly. All you need to get started is a list of milestones and a schedule of their start and end dates.
Nothing makes milestone planning with a Gantt chart template easier!
Setting and Scheduling Milestones
A very simple explanation of a milestone in project management is that it defines a goal to be achieved at a predetermined point in time in a project. Using milestones in project planning lets you focus on goals and results instead of activities.
Some examples of a milestone include a top-priority task completion, a percentage of progress done, or a deliverable that meets a deadline. Keep in mind that a milestone can be a large task or a small accomplishment. What’s important when it comes to setting and scheduling milestones is that you should use realistic deadlines.
While you don’t have to use milestones to have an effective Gantt chart or project plan, they do serve several purposes that offer helpful benefits:
- They allow you to see if your project is progressing as planned.
- They can help with team coordination and efforts.
- They can motivate both you and your team.
- They can create a sense of urgency.
With all of this in mind, it’s time to put the milestones you’ve defined into an easy-to-use chart. And this free Gantt Chart template is the ideal tool.
Creating a Gantt Chart
The work breakdown section with the milestone list is displayed on the left, and the Gantt chart view is displayed on the right. These two sections work together to give you a clear picture of your project milestones as they progress.
Start by entering your basic project details and then move on to the work breakdown section, which holds the milestone list.
The basics for this template include the Company Name and Logo (optional), Project Name, and the Start of Planning date. You’ll see these fields above the milestone list on the left. Just click each line to enter these details.
Start of Planning
For the Start of Planning field, enter the start date for your project. You can use whichever date format is most comfortable for you and the template with reformat it as you see it. So, you can enter June 4, 2019 or 6/4/19 and it will be formatted as 04-Jun-19.
The template will automatically update the dates in the Gantt chart view based on the date you enter in this field. Keep in mind that the chart week date will always start on Monday. So, if you enter a Start of Planning date of Tuesday, June 4, the Gantt chart will start on Monday, June 3.
Work Breakdown Structure – Milestone List
When you finish completing the project details, continue with your milestone plan by adding the list of tasks in the work breakdown section.
Milestones and Responsible People
Enter the name of each task in the Milestone column and the resource name directly to the right in the Responsible People column. This gives you an easy way to see which members of your project team are in charge of which milestones.
The template has spots for 10 milestones, but you can insert more rows for additional tasks if needed. To do so, simply:
- Select a milestone row by clicking the number on the left side of the Excel sheet,
- Right-click the row and select Copy, and
- With the row still selected, right-click it and select Insert Copied Cells. This should place your new row directly above the one you copied.
Start and End Dates
If you have the start and end dates for the milestones ready, enter those next or as you enter the tasks and resources.
Just like the Start of Planning date, you can use whichever format is easiest for you and the template will automatically reformat it.
Work Days Number
Do not enter any data in the Work Days Number column. The fields in this column will be calculated and populate automatically as you enter the start and end dates for each milestone.
The Chart View
The Gantt chart view on the right is where you can see your milestone schedule. The template uses the start and end dates you enter in the work breakdown section to give you a clean view of your milestone timeline and progress. You can simply scroll to the right in the Gantt chart view to see the upcoming weeks.
The template is designed for 16 weeks (you’ll see a small dialog box as a reminder in cell A1). To make scheduling simpler, each week begins on Monday, contains five workdays, and alternates lighter and darker blue for easier viewing.
Below the weeks and dates, you will see dark blue boxes for the milestones. These boxes represent the number of work days for each task to be completed.
For example, you can see Milestone 2 is scheduled to start on June 10 and end on June 20, which is 9 work days. This milestone will display nine blue boxes in the Gantt chart across those dates.
This view lets you quickly see how far out the current milestones will be completed, showing you the critical path. So, you can update your team and stakeholders easily.
Milestones Make Useful Markers
Remember, milestones can include anything from design approval to obtaining funds to communication updates. These types of milestones make useful markers for how well your project is progressing and if it’s going as planned.
If you’re ready to create your project plan with this simple Gantt Chart template, then your project is already off to a great start. Grab your task list and prepare for success!
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