project milestones

The project milestones: planning objectives and results

Milestone or project milestone is the management tool used to define a specific point in the project planning.

The points define, in fact, the beginning and the end of work and mark the end of an important phase of the work.

Milestones can be used to symbolize all started and finished stuff.

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“CONTENT INDEX”

Project milestones: the planning
Keep track of progress
Simple task or milestone?
Project milestones: Why use them?

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If a milestone focuses on the main points of project progress, it becomes useful as a planning tool.

Just as the tasks break down a larger project into manageable parts, the milestones split a project into milestones.

So, when starting a project, milestones can help immensely with programming.

Milestones are usually present in project management software, and of course also in TWproject.

They have their own specific icon in the Gantt chart function, and are diamond-shaped.

Project milestones: the planning

Project milestones are a way to estimate the time needed to complete the project more accurately.

Hence, they become essential for precise project planning.

With milestones, you can better calculate project planning by segmenting it into more manageable and easier-to-control time intervals.

They are also a flexible tool for planning.

With a little bit of flexibility, they can do much more than act as mere indicators of the project phases.

For example, milestones can be used as reminder of important meetings for the project or to report other interesting events, such as workshops or training courses.

project milestone

In an important editorial plan, for example, a digital project manager, can use them to define the release of individual articles within the blog.

In short, using this diamond icon is a great way to make sure everyone is aware of upcoming deadlines and upcoming important meetings.

Naturally, milestones can indicate the deadlines for anything related to the project.

For example, they can report a result from another linked project or an impending delivery from a supplier.

In addition, milestones are good to mark a point where there is a transition between two phases of a project.

Milestones, like activities, can be linked and connected to each other.

This happens for example when a milestone’s phase can’t begin until the end of the previous phase, linked to another milestone.

Project milestones: Keep track of progress

Part of a project’s planning is the ability to monitor and keep track the progress of that program in real time.

Milestones are a way to see both at what point is a specific single activity, and the general state of progress of the project itself.

This is useful when dealing mainly with stakeholders.

In fact, these are generally not interested in a detailed report of the project progress.

What they want to know is if the project moves forward or not as initially planned.

Milestones are ideal for this type of report because they show the main phases completed.

Project milestones: Simple task or milestone?

Discern between what to consider a task and what to consider a project milestone can be difficult.

More projects are complex, more difficult is to recognize the difference between task and milestone.

To resolve the doubt it is essential to ask itself the following questions:

  • Is this a task or a final result?
  • Will this affect the final deadline?
  • Is this an important moment in the project that will indicate future progress?
  • Are stakeholders to be informed about this particular point?
  • Is it an event that has an impact on the project?

Answering these questions will help you understand if we are talking about a task or a milestone.

Basically, the most important events of your project must be reported as milestones, so that they can be easily visualized and mapped by the project team.

The milestones have, in essence, a greater mean than “simple” activities.

Project milestones: Why use them?

Milestones can improve project planning and execution in different ways:

1) Monitor deadlines

No plan is complete without a list of deadlines. The best way is to use the project milestones to indicate them.

The milestones, as already mentioned, are usually marked as a diamond-shape icon in the project planning software.

Hence, this icon represents a delivery, a presentation of the deliverable or in any case a deadline that mustn’t be forgotten.

2) Make it easy to identify important dates

Are there important days that may have an impact on the project?

Perhaps a training course for the project team or a workshop?

Or a meeting with the stakeholders?

It is important to keep in mind all these events in project planning.

project milestone

These are events of such importance that they can have an impact on the whole project and it must be easy to identify them.

3) Identify potential blocks of the project

Many projects rely on work produced by external teams or partners in order to progress.

If these external factors are not monitored, the probability to forget or not following them increases.

So, if you are working on a project that depends – even – on someone or something of external with which you do not have frequent contact, it is important to list these results as milestones.

As we have seen, milestones are a very useful project management tool.

It is also an easy-to-use tool for project planning and reporting.

In Twproject a milestone always coincides with the beginning or end of a task, this because normally a milestone is linked to a delivery or a kick-off phase.

In order to support the team in achieving the goal, TWproject also sets up a milestone notification system.

The notifications make even easier the work of the team that will automatically receive the alerts of the activities expiring or delayed and they will complete the tasks.

By default the alarm (milestone of the neighboring task) is 3 days before the milestone, but it is also possible to change it from the configuration pages. (insert a screen)

Reaching and overcoming a project milestone is also good for the morale of the team and of the project manager himself.

This is why every tool (like the alert) that facilitates the task is always very well received.

Have you ever used the milestones in your projects? What is your opinion?

Leave us your comment.

Set the milestones of your project.

Enterprise Project Management – Twproject

Twproject is a high-end project and work management tool. You have great teams, we will help you making them happier.

 

Twproject is built to adapt to your working methods and operative environment; it give you a full set of instruments to stay informed on project progress, budget, and scope creeps. Twproject facilitate work offering you the right place to “collect” information, store documents, take notes and whatever else run around a project without effort.

Be free

Twproject do not push you to use a methodology. You will be free to use a classic waterfall as well as a Agile or a Prince2 approach. No additional effort is required to use Twproject; you drive, we follow.

Above all, control

Complex projects, several teams, issues, budgets, milestones; how to keep everything under control? There is one answer only: collecting feedback, any kind of feedback (status changes, date changes, work done, issues opened, notes, discussions etc. ), from where things are done. This point is the crucial factor; only if you get actual information from the “base”, managers will have significant data to get the right decisions. This requires that your software need to be widely adopted. We spent several months to make Twproject UI nice and friendly, making it useful to every users profile. This is why Twproject has a very low “rejection” rate.

Security, not jails

Enterprises are complex; organizational charts, permissions, grants, delegations, bosses and customers. The refined security role based model covers any kind of requirements of access/visibility on projects; just assign resources on tasks and Twproject will do the rest. No effort is required to setup a security structure that fits your company needs. More than ten years of adoption success stories tell us that this it’s true!

You will be able to set access from a single sub-task to the complete project in few clicks. High security standard are used for data encryption, control access, enforce password policy, but do not duplicate you efforts if you have already setup your network security: Twproject uses your LDAP, Active directory, file servers, or DMS with one click. Read more about Twproject security here: https://twproject.com/support/security-faq/

 

Add, adapt and stretch

Every company has its own “mandatory oddities”: Twproject is built to extend the basic set of features by adding custom properties on task, issues, resources, costs and every main entity.

Users can make its dashboard “a la carte” adding its preferred widgets. Custom forms, wizards and reports will complete the set of feature Twproject  offers to fit enterprise’s needs.

More on Twproject flexibility here: https://twproject.com/support/customizations-faq/

Make your IT happy

Twproject runs everywhere. It is built on Java and run on all the most used servlet containers. “Compatibility” and “connectivity” are our keywords.

Twproject installs in minutes on every operating system. You can use your company’s preferred database. Twproject is the IT world’ preferred  product.

An easy data structure, API, schedulers, and connectors will allow you to let Twproject talk with your existing ERP, CRM and accounting systems.

Don’t have an IT or you want to spare upgrade and maintenance costs? Use our per-customer dedicated servers on Amazon cloud.

Ready to give Twproject a try?

One try is worth a million words.

Twproject 5.4 now available

New free features and a new site

We are very happy to announce that after a long period of development we have just released Twproject 5.4 (build 59600).

This new release includes a relevant redesign of the interactive Gantt chart, moreover we improved the interface usability of the entire application, fixing most of the bugs signaled through our support forum (thank you!).

This release also contains a major internal refactoring focused on providing better access to Twproject trough an API that will be released soon.

Some additional fields have been added on the database schema, now supporting custom fields on resources; it is also functional to maintaining custom orderings in Gantt chart. As usual the upgrade procedure will perform all necessary steps automatically.

 

Gantt Chart

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The new interface has been rebuilt using HTML5 and SVG, giving to our users a brand new usability experience.

We lets you navigate the grid using your keyboard, in this way editing and creating task will be much easier. We also introduce the fixed header to help users interact with complex trees. Task and dependencies can be selected and removed directly from the chart side.

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The Gantt chart is now really easier to use. You can manually link projects creating dependencies, task names are displayed beside each task, task days are shown while you are enlarging or reducing tasks.

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The new Gantt editor also includes critical path identification. Critical path computation can be turned on and off and is updated automatically with your tree changes.

 

Discussions

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We think that team communication is essential for task progress and for this reason we enhanced discussions’ strength giving new visibility to this feature.

Now is easier to create conversations and contribute. Users can initiate a new discussion on each task, so that will be easier for workgroups to discuss about specific task matters. Subscriptions and notifications keep your group up to date.

Mobile

twproject mobile

 

Minor changes and a really nicer skin.

 

Minor features and bugs

  • Added paginator on bottom page lists
  • Added isPersonal and isUnavailable in agenda’s small editor
  • Added custom fields on resources
  • Fixed header and footer on worklog week
  • Main menu can now be opened in new tab
  • Redesigned Copy task feature for a more intuitive cloning procedure.
  • Fixed issue filter with duration>0
  • Fixed agenda search bug on private event
  • Fixed issue order on Kanban
  • Full search for Task: filter is now preserved
  • Fixed moving issue assignment bug
  • Fixed public page bug
  • Minor bugs fixed

 

Twproject Shop

Since Twproject 5.4 you have direct access to Twproject shop in order to easily increase you number of user licenses or update your license expiry date. The new license will be generated and sent to you within few minutes. If you are using our cloud solution, your environment will be automatically updated.

A brand new site for Twproject and guide

We are also very proud of our new Twproject website released last week. We worked really hard to make all information about our software features available to customers in a simple and intuitive manner.

Buying Twproject is now more simple and fast, licenses are sent to your email address immediately after purchase and Amazon dedicated Instance are instantiated automatically too, in a few minutes.

We completely redesigned our guide that is now a dedicated site to help all our acquired customers finding answers on their work management problem.

Teamwork 4.5 released: a major free upgrade

We are really happy to announce this major release update. As you may guess from the length of this announcement, this update will improve your Teamwork in almost every section, providing more modeling tools and functions. The web browsers’ enhanced capacities (in particular those of Firefox, Safari and Chrome) are used in depth to give users a better experience.

This is a free upgrade for all users of version 4. Get the installer / upgrader here: http://www.twproject.com/download.page

The main features of this release are:

– Issue managing by dragging – “kanban” like.

– History of issue assignee, status and task change (better help desk and issue scaling support).

– Customizable issue statuses.

– Better graph and agile / scrum handling.

– Cross links between tasks / issues / resources / agenda events / meetings / boards.

– In-place popup editors.

– Operator load computation has become much smarter.

– Greatly extended user guide with real case work “mappings” to Teamwork, and a new section on performance optimization.

Layout changes

Several pages that up to now were popup windows are now windows in place, which improves their usability: issue editor, custom forms, workgroup selector.

Several text areas now support internal links (e.g. T#MYCODE#), web links (http://www.twproject.com), smiley’s, absolute URLs to images.

New features

Issues.

Issue statuses – customizable. New issues statuses can be created. There is a page for managing issue statuses (which before version 4.5 were fixed):

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And for every status not only its color, but most importantly its business logic behavior is determined from this editor:

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Whether it should “behave” when asking user feedback as an open status, as close, whether it should ask for comments and / worklog when entering a status.

So typically if your status is something in which the issue enters at “end of life”, it should be marked “as close” and “ask for worklog” too should be enabled.

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Issue change history. When changing a status, task or assignee on an issue, the editor will ask for a reason, and the change will be recorded on the issue. And in fact there is an additional tab on the issue editor, “history”.

Issue organizer “Kanban”. Issues can be now be organized in a completely visual way by dragging and dropping them: filter the issues in which you are interested in, and then select the “organizer” button.

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clip_image010 Now you can also enable use of external codes on issues (admin -> default for projects).

Dashboards.

The usability of the “customize this page” function has been improved: all portlets are always visible:

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And it’s easier to drag them in the dashboard. Moreover it is easier to access the general page / portlet disposition page: just click “all users”. clip_image014

There is a new additional starting page: help desk support.

Operator load and planning. This was the user request:

“refine the operator load showing the effective load taking in consideration worklog done. E.g: 100h estimated on 20 days, done 10h in 10 days the resting 10 day must have a load of 90h not 50h like now”

Also take care of unavailability.

Use the new operator load on plan, load by day, end wherever it is meaningful

Operator load textual: put worklog with totals and pink holydays. Use striped background

Advanced users

– The examples in the distribution and the documentation now cover also “custom wizards”: see section 14.4 Custom wizards of the user guide.

Minor improvements

– More kinds of documents are now full-text indexed; these are the extensions now supported:

“.txt”, “.rtf”, ”.log” “.pdf”. “.htm”, “.html”, “.zip”, “.war”, “.jar”, “.xls”, “.xlsx”, “.xltx”, “.xlsEmb”, “.doc”, “.docx”, “.dotx”, “.docEmb”, “.ppt”, “.pptx”, “mpp”, “mpx”, “.msg”, “.msgEmb”, “.vsd”, “.pub”.

Also custom fields are full-text indexed.

Here are several user requests fulfilled:

– “Add worklog approval monthly screen” -> We will add bulk status change in worklog search / analysis

– Expose issue id in editor and list.

– LDAP authentication cascades to system one.

– Develop a resource snapshot.

– Sort File Storage Document Listing.

– Make “add document content” in a rich text editor.

– Please put a link to a task on the agenda event : we actually did much more by having full internal links.

– Need to add subscription event for when a new version of a document is uploaded.

– Display agenda items in planByResource like in worklogWeek.

– Search for specific custom fields.

– You can have a customized help message in the “help” page, just add in the labels CUSTOMIZED_HELP_CONTACT.

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– Notes on issues are on the main tab and self-resize.

– Issue assignee selector got simplified.

– Now you can create subtasks as sub-fluxes.

– Counters can now be reset and deleted.

– When changing a task on an issue, notify the new assignees.

– Since version 4.5 custom fields support also “typing” of data. E.g. “cost,20,java.lang.Double” will add a custom field of length 20 and type “double” (a floating point number).

– Holiday settings: now you have year-specific settings.

– In issue list you can now filter by task type.

– Resource print includes my assignments.

Bug fixes

– Check why in the assignment notification we add a link to the task even if the resource has not the rights to read task … .

– Meetings are not full-indexed.

– Index custom forms data.

– Create issue from task editor menu does not launch creation nor filters???

– Issue multi edit: bulk change gravity do not close actions clicking “close”.

– Fixed MIME for teamworkMenuPlusCss.jsp,

– Issue cloning did not raise events,

– Fixed various combo positions in bulk update screens in case of scroll.

– Summa is not saved on document link and file storage on tasks and resources.

– A fix for Oracle on Resources with no surname.

– An operator may change his own password even if cookies are enabled.

– Do not notify disabled users.

 

Technical points

– In order to optimize memory usage,

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If you log as administrator and go to the label management section, open the “label rules” container (it is closed by default), and say if you want to have only English as language, type EN in the enabled languages field and select SAVE.

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– Teamwork 4.5 is no more on quirks mode – we dropped support for Internet Explorer 6 – and pages are in HTML 5

Important for upgrades. Several JARS have been updated, added and removed. If they are present these JARs should be deleted by hand from WEB-INF/lib:

o commons-collections-2.1.1.jar

o commons-logging-1.0.4.jar

o poi-3.0.1-FINAL-20070705.jar

o jcaptcha-all-1.0-RC3.jar

– Added -server configuration to the Java JVM distributed.

– If using HsqlDB you can make a dump of the current log by hand from system check instead of having to wait Teamwork restart:

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Notes for updating to 4.5:

Any custom filter on issues will need to be redone as the issue statuses are a lookup field.

Unfortunately all document list attached to discussion points of meetings will be reset.

P.S. We’re building the beta of a new online service – called Licorize – a cocktail of Delicious bookmarking and light to-do management. If you’d like to beta-test it,  just send an e-mail to info@twproject.com with “Licorize” in the subject or body – we will soon give you access and also a year of free usage to your entire group.

Teamwork release 4.3 available for download

Teamwork 4.3 multi-Gantt view.

Teamwork 4.3 multi-Gantt view.

A free upgrade release for all users of version 4.0-4.2, this release includes some major extensions of functionality; while there is no “revolution”, this kind of release makes your “Teamwork life” more comfortable. Several features requests from the feedback service have been fulfilled. Also the user guide has been updated.

Download this release here.

Multi-Gantt support

This was motivated by this request: “Manage graphical Gantt-type overview of all projects”. We then realized that all it needed was the filtering power of projects search together with a Gantt style visualization. So this is what we’ve done: we added an additioanl visualization of the search results. So for example you can see all your root open project closing in 2 weeks in a Gantt style view.

Also all the Gantt scales have been extended to 5 years.

Import from CSV – Bugzilla

Import of issues and resources from CSV files: issues get imported from the Bugzilla CSV export format, but of course in this way you can import from anything.

Collapsible project trees

Projects trees can be collapsed and there are options to keep them open by default etc. . This was this request; thanks to Halil for the first implementation.

More Twitter integrations

Twitter integration with any action and there is a new portlet for filtering tweets on any topic: see the user guide, section 8.3.3.

Little improvements

– All notifications have in the subject the task they refer to, if it exists (this request).
– Display log on descendants (this request).
– Balloons have no more the confusing Roman number.
– Use  darker gray on Gantt duration background – better prints.
– Search analysis worklog: make the field “action” larger.
– In resource list there is no more the bothering default filter by company.
– Snapshot of a task can be edited.
– Search analysis worklog: make the column “action” larger.
– Issue multi editor: if there is a task on the issue and you have an assignment on it, let the watch icon appear even if the issue is not assigned to you.
– Experimental: supporting SSL over LDAP (LDAPS)

Bug fixes

– Issues didn’t get indexed any more for full text search.
– Order in company news doesn’t work.
– Portlet news doesn’t show news ordered by order factor.
– Resource hourly cost sometimes gets set to zero.
– Meeting: drag&drop multi editor doesn’t work for the just inserted.
– The link to resource drawn by the smart combo if the resource is from another area on which you have no right you see the link but you get an error.
– Search of a string containing ” in issues looped the application.
– Sometimes the rollover menu opened in the wrong direction.
– If you change the allowed file storage roots, disable links to old locations.

Technical notes for upgrade

This release build is 11250; it contains no database schema changes for all users of 4.2.10080 and following. As it contains an issue full-text indexing fix, you should reindex your data: see 17.4 of the user guide.

try darker gray on gantt duration background

Notes on usability, game mechanics, and Teamwork’s evolution

happyDoggyIntroduction

The work documented in this post was ignited by receiving the first video tests from usertesting.com and other sources (by the way, Usertesting supplied valuable feedback for a very cheap price), and about at the same time watching a video where Amy Jo Kim from Shufflebrain does a great and inspiring presentation showing how some game mechanics are used by successful social software.

Motivation

Teamwork 4 was realized after studying several texts on usability, and even inventing new techniques, see for example

Smarter search and recent object functionality

Managing with lists vs. managing with trees

But our internal speculations lacked the ideas that may come from an independent fresh look; we received a lot of positive feedback from new users of Teamwork 4, but the problem is that those that do not understand your software, don’t usually give you feedback. So we submitted Teamwork 4.1 to several testers that were first-time users. Then, looking at the testers’ video, these were full of surprises, and quite… painful to watch! Poor users!

Putting together feedback of the testers and the idea of the prime importance of positive feedback from the software, in particular in early usage phases, we designed a new release of Teamwork which we hope should be friendlier for both the first starter and the daily user. Here we document some of the differences. I hope that being this a concrete example of usability evolution, it can be of some interest for those who are working on web application usability in general.

The criteria which we used for evolution of the interface have been inspired also by Amy Jo Kim’s work from Shufflebrain who in this presentation shows how some game mechanics are used by successful social software, and this may inspire in general who is designing any kind of application:

Putting the Fun in Functional: Applying Game Mechanics to Functional Software

This is filled with interesting ideas and observations; to me what results more interesting is not so much the extrapolation of the specifics of game mechanics, but looking at ways to involve with feedback the user in its first steps in your application, and then guide the evolution of it. It is clear from the speech and Q&A part of the video that she has a wide usage and behavior culture which is only partly expressed there.

Limits of game techniques

Looking at human beings as reacting to behavioral stimuli is taking an extremely partial view, which has little explanational mileage, but not zero.

It is true that games tap in primal response patterns; but that is also their limit, at least for games that use proximal metaphors (body movements) and not reasoning, collecting, quantifying. Collecting and quantifying means inserting strings and numbers; something at which Mario Bros. like interfaces are vary very bad at; like using the iPhone keyboard for a lot of data input. But collecting and quantifying is what is most important for a huge number of applications, and where the proximal metaphors simply won’t help.

In playing games, often the player is happy to use “low level” skills; in planning work, not so much. That is also why simple stimulus – response – reinforce metaphors can be effective in gaming, advertising, but not elsewhere; we are not (fortunately) always that stupid. It is surely false that the most powerful way to manipulate human behavior is to do a variable response schedule: a good argument to a responsive crowd can do better than any behavioral proximal stimulus. But that would take us far, on the failures of behaviorism (this is old stuff from the 50’s). Still, when the users of any software are in their first steps, the response patterns of the application matter a lot.

On the Business of software discussion group I’ve recently seen a discussion on a tool for visually collecting bookmarks. The developers chose to develop a desktop client before developing a browser plugin (!); this to me is a clear mistake in adoption path strategy, which does not consider the critical point of lowering the adoption path as much as possible for such a secondary tool. Seeing collecting bookmarks as a “game played in the browser”, makes it immediately that the separate client idea is disastrous!

My point of this section is just that the gaming metaphors can help, but in limited forms and cases.

Examples

The task given to the testers was this:

  • enroll to demo
  • create a project
  • assign yourself to it
  • create a resource
  • assign it to the project
  • create a child task
  • create some issues
  • register some worklog
  • search for a task
  • create a to-do

Going through this, they met some difficulties, which we tried to overcome, and we document all this in this PDF:

TeamworkUsabilityExamples

(1.5 MB – lots of screen shots).

Some ideas in the PDF can be generalized; additional  “behavioral reinforcement” tricks which we put in place:

  • Whatever first tests the user does, he makes a % increment
  • the “user score” (which was already there) has been structured in “badges” (which in our case are balloons of different color)
  • operators are associated to a “color”: so say sticky notes coming from them are immediately distinguishable

Progress feedback always increasing.

Users are associated with a color.

Users are associated with a color.

N.B. The changes to which we refer are not released yet (May 13th, 2009); the demo and the downloadable version are those before changes, the new release (Teamwork 4.2) will be available in a couple of weeks.

Additional references

The World’s Largest MMORPG: You’re Playing it Right Now