Here’s A Quick Way To Keep Your Milestones in Focus in Primavera P6

Primavera P6 Quick Tip Focus on Milestones

Milestone Activities in any schedule usually represent the most important deadlines, deliveries, start ups or drop-dead dates for a project. These are undeniably dates that you’ll want to stay on top of and keep close at hand in case you’re asked for a report or to check on the health of the project. But it can be difficult to search for milestones in a large schedule, and at the least it may take a few clicks to turn on a filter to show only your milestones. Filters are great, but once you filter for milestones alone, you can’t see what activities are impacting a milestone, since the filter hides all other activities.

What if your manager or even the client shows up and wants a quick word about key milestones? Will you filter first or scroll and seek?

A Smart Way to Focus on Milestones in Primavera P6

It comes down to laying out your project data smarter. I’m an advocate for planners and schedulers thinking of themselves as data architects. Project schedules contain a mountain of data and it’s the planner/scheduler’s job to manage it and organize it into a coherent system.

The foundation of your project’s organizing system is the Work Breakdown Structure (WBS).

Give Your Milestones a Home in Your WBS

In terms of a project’s layout, a smart layout choice is to put all of your key milestones together under a single Work Breakdown Structure element right at the top of the project.

Primavera P6 focus on milestones

Here’s how:

  1. Simply add a new WBS element called “Key Milestones” or something similar at the top of the project.
  2. Cut & Paste (or drag and drop) your project’s milestones under this WBS element.

Easy to Find, Easy to Focus

The result is handy layout where milestone are easily found right at the top of your schedule, leading to impressing your client or project manager. Now it’s easy to keep those key dates and deadlines in focus while the project moves forward. No more filtering either.

This type of layout has been widely adopted in the scheduling community and many companies enforce this layout as a template for their schedules.


Question: My project is very large and it will take too long to Cut & Paste all of my milestones.

Answer : You could use a Global Change like this one to move all milestones to a single WBS element.

Primavera P6 milestones global change

This Global Change will move all Start or Finish Milestones to the WBS specified in the “Parameter/Value” column. Go ahead and build it and give it a try. Please make a backup of your project first.

AND….remember to update or re-baseline your project if you adopt this layout. You’ll want your baseline to match.

Question: Should I move all of my project’s milestones to a Milestones WBS?

Answer : Depending on the size of your project and the total number of milestones, I would try to aim for moving only the top 25-50 milestones to keep things clean. This could also be a rotating list, and completed milestones could be moved back to their originating WBS and more current / nearer milestones moved in as they are a high-priority to the project. However the challenge with rotating milestones is that a changing list will not match your baseline and it will make baseline comparison difficult.

Have Your Say

What are some best practices to you to keep your milestones in focus? What project layout tricks do you use to make your project easier to navigate?


    • PlannerTuts says

      Tag them using a project “Activity Code”. Then build a filter that shows only those activities that have been tagged.

  1. Rafael Davila says

    I will go 100% with Planner Tuts approach on using Activity Codes and will avoid unnecessary milestones.

    Unnecessary milestones divert attention especially when placed outside the WBS they should belong. Milestones as any activity must be updated and updating of unnecessary activities that do not add to the logic not only is a burden but can be the source of updating errors. Keeping milestones (the necessary ones) close to linked activities is very convenient.

    It is not uncommon to ask others to update part of the schedule by full WBS Phases such as Electrical an Mechanical using software files. For isolated activities usually we ask the responsible party for the updates without using software files, usually you filter the activities by a Responsibility Activity Code. One such code might be General Contractor (a lot of activities) another might be Roofing Contractor (a single or a few activities).

    At home we usually organize Main WBS based on Construction Specification Institute (CSI) divisions. Even our Payment Breakdown is required to be organized as per CSI divisions.

    Activity Codes look similar, they are not equal/equivalent. WBS structure defines a strict hierarchy while Activity Codes hierarchy can be switched.

    Some reports such as Earned Value requires a strict hierarchy such as WBS. With multiple WBS structures we can define multiple ways to organize EV reports but with unlimited Activity Codes Structures we cannot define a single reliable EV report. I do not believe there is a single CPM software that organizes EV using Activity Codes. Both have their advantages and disadvantages, both are needed.

    I use software capable of multiple/unlimited WBS structures but this is unique of Spider Project, P6 is not capable of defining multiple WBS Structures. I never overdo the WBS Structures, 2 to 3 such structures and activity codes are usually enough.

    • says

      Hi Rafael,
      Thanks for the comment – the nice thing about P6’s Activity Codes is the ability to build a hierarchy also. So if you are using CSI codes, then you can code their structure in P6 also and use grouping to display activities in that hierarchy. I’ll agree with you on overdoing the levels of all things – I sometimes see WBS 8 levels deep and it’s hard to navigate.

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