If you manage projects, you know that milestones can mean the difference between success and failure. Being able to track milestones makes project management more fulfilling and helps you hold yourself and your team accountable for success to stakeholders and executives. But how do you track those milestones? Sure, you can use a simple spreadsheet and enter dates and descriptions. But why not take advantage of apps geared specifically for this purpose? Let's look at five useful apps that can help you track those project milestones.
Note: This article is also available as an image gallery and a video hosted by TechRepublic columnist Tom Merritt.
1: Upvise Projects
Upvise Projects (Figure A) is a powerful project management app that's integrated into the Upvise Pro CRM suite. It's available for Android and iOS and allows you to manage every aspect of projects — and to do so with incredible detail. The one drawback to Upvise is its learning curve. It's steep. But the payoff is certainly worth it, as you will wind up with a one-stop-shop for all your mobile project management needs.
Upvise makes it easy to add milestones to projects and manage the completion percentage of each. Once you've created a milestone, you add as many tasks associated with the milestone as needed. With milestones on Upvise, you can keep track of what's due, when it's due, and who's responsible for getting it done.
To manage users, you must log onto the Upvise website with your account credentials (you can't manage users from the mobile app). Upvise is free to try for 30 days. After that, a license will cost you $120.00 USD (per year/per user).
Trello (Figure B) isn't actually a project management app as much as it is a task management app. However, due to its flexible nature and ease of use, it works well for project management — especially for those who don't need all the bells and whistles (and added complications) that come along with the likes of Upvise.
What I like about Trello (and its ilk) is the ability to use the software for a different task than it may have been intended, while retaining a few added features that make project management a bit more enjoyable (such as the ability to add images to cards). Using Trello for milestones will require you to add due dates to cards. Once a "milestone" is complete you can tap and drag it to the top of the screen for archiving. With easy access to the archives, you can quickly see what tasks are complete. Trello is free and also has a website interface, as well as mobile apps for Android and IOS.
3: Project Management System
Project Management System (Figure C) might suffer from a bad name, but it does a great job of making it easy to manage milestones within your projects quite easy. In fact, it's almost overly simplified, but that makes it a solution anyone can use. You won't be adding much in the way of details to tasks ─ just start date, end date, priority, assignee, and a simple note. But the app does let you share tasks via email.
PMS is free, but if you want to be able to add reminders and import/export to other devices, you'll need to drop the coin for the PRO version ($8.13 USD). Remember one thing about this app when you judge it — it's all about simplicity.
4: Zoho Projects
Zoho Projects (Figure D) is a powerful piece of the Zoho puzzle. With the addition of the mobile app, Zoho Projects can easily take on the task of managing your project milestones. Although the mobile app isn't nearly as powerful as the web-based version, you can still easily navigate around your portals, projects, and tasks. From the app sidebar, you can also work with timesheets, documents, and feeds. Creating milestones for a project is as simple as tapping the + button and then tapping Milestone. From within the Milestone creation window, you can add description, users, due dates, and specify whether the milestone is internal or external. Zoho Projects is free, although you do have to have a Zoho account first (which is also free).
Collabtive (Figure E) is an open source project management server that is about as powerful as you'll find. Add the Android app into the mix and you have an ideal solution for managing your project milestones. Collabtive lets you add milestones that include name, description, and start/end dates, and you can edit and mark them as complete.
One caveat: The mobile app is nothing more than a web wrapper and can be challenging to use on smartphones, although tablets work fine. If you happen to be the administrator of the Collabtive system, you can add a number of powerful plugins to further extend the flexibility and power. Both Collabtive and the mobile app are free. Collabtive plugins, on the other hand, are not.
There are many options available for tracking projects and milestones. Don't always assume you're stuck using an app that will tether you to your desktop ─ not when there are mobile and web-based apps available. Give these a try and see if one of them doesn't meet your milestone tracking needs.
What tools do you use to track project milestones? Share your suggestions with fellow TechRepublic members.
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Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website jackwallen.com.