Jira milestones and markers serve slightly different purposes, but both truly shine when you pair them with visual project management tools like the Gantt chart. Today, we will discuss what Jira milestones and markers are and how they differ from each other. Next, we will move on to showing several ways to create milestones and markers, first in Jira and then with the help of Jira-compatible PPM software BigPicture and BigGantt.
Difference between Jira milestone and Jira marker
What is a milestone in Agile? A milestone is a significant event or a branching decision point within a project lifecycle. This significant event could be a project’s start or end date, external reviews, budget checks, meeting with stakeholders, launch, or completion of a major deliverable. In other words, anything that you deem as important in your project and which would help you measure the progress toward the final goal.
On the other hand, a marker is a vertical line that allows you to mark (highlight) certain dates or date ranges. Like milestones, markers represent events. You can display multiple markers on a task or anywhere on the timeline.
Moreover, milestones and other critical tasks that need to occur from the start to the end of a project are part of a work breakdown structure (WBS). This is as opposed to markers which are not the project’s components per se.
You can think of Jira milestones and markers as book chapters and bookmarks, respectively—When you finish reading a chapter, you know you have made some progress in the story plot or your studies. On the other hand, bookmarks are not part of the book—you can insert one or several anywhere inside the book and remove them anytime, and the story will still carry on uninterrupted.
Jira milestones and markers are visual elements that become most beneficial when added to a Gantt chart. You can also use markers on the Agile board and other modules that BigGantt and BigPicture offer. (You will find more details on that further in this article.)
Can you add milestones in Jira?
Not quite. Neither plain Jira nor Jira (Advanced) Roadmaps have the Milestone feature as a separate entity. Jira users requested this feature in 2019, which is still “under consideration.” Therefore, it is really difficult to tell when Jira milestones will be available—and if at all.
How do I create a milestone in Jira?
Even though there are no milestones in Jira as such, you can work around this shortcoming by using the existing features to serve milestone purposes. There are 4 methods we can suggest:
Define Start/End or Due dates
With the first method, you define Jira milestones either as a property of Sprint, Releases, Project (Start/End Date), or as a part of the task itself (Due Date; for example, a task with no duration).
In the second one, you create versions (points in time for a project). Although versions are typically used for software releases, it does not mean you cannot use them as milestones. Simply create several versions and name them as you see fit, for example, “Milestone 1,” “Milestone 2.” etc.
Use a Kanban board
In the third method, you create an Agile board with milestone-like columns, for instance, “Analysis,” “Design,” “Final release,” etc. However, you will not be dragging tasks from left to right between the columns this time. Instead, a completed “milestone task” will remain in its original position, labeled as “Done.”
Extend Jira with BigPicture or BigGantt
If the 3 methods we suggested are not for you, there is another way. Not a workaround. This time you will be able to work with a full-fledged Gantt chart that visualizes Jira milestones and markers and baselines, critical path, task dependencies, and cross-project dependencies.
To have all of that (and more), you will need to turn to the Atlassian Marketplace, where you will find (arguably) the best software for Jira—BigPicture and BigGantt. Both of them pick up where Jira left off and help you manage your projects, programs, and portfolios while keeping them synced with Jira.
Not ready for the trial yet? No problem! Visit our demo page, where you can explore all that BigPicture has to offer. No registration or installation needed.
Creating Jira milestones with BigPicture and BigGantt is fast and easy. The same goes for markers. Let’s find out how you can do it.
Create a Jira milestone
You create a Jira milestone by converting a task (issue) to a milestone. (You can convert a milestone back to a task, too). First, navigate to the Gantt module, where you will find your project’s Gantt chart and a task list (WBS). Then, select a task from the task list next to your Gantt chart and right-click on it. A small vertical menu with options will pop up. Click on the Convert to milestone option.
After you have converted the task to a milestone, the same issue in Jira will receive a #milestone label. (Here, we converted an MNS-9 task.)
Jira issues labeling process also works the other way round—when you manually label an issue as a #milestone, BigGantt and BigPicture apps will recognize it as a Jira milestone.
What if you already have a large project created in Jira but no BigGantt/BigPicture added yet? No problem. In such a case, you can label multiple issues in bulk in Jira to, later on, see them as proper milestones on a timeline in BigGantt or BigPicture.
Let’s move on to markers now.
Create a Jira Gantt chart marker
To create a marker, you need a module that supports a timeline. Here, we will use a Gantt module and highlight a date on a Gantt chart.
Open the Gantt chart and hover over the timeline. You will see a blue vertical line appear. Click on it. A “New marker” window will pop up where you fill in the details for your new Jira marker, including a name, date, color, and description (optional). To edit or delete it, right-click on it to prompt a list of options.
Once you have your marker in place, you can also view it on other modules. In BigPicture, you will see markers in the Board, Roadmap, and Calendar modules; in BigGantt, these are the Gantt and Overview modules.
Using markers beyond the project level
Markers are not only for projects; you can also use them for programs and portfolios. Let’s say there is an important event that concerns several initiatives that belong to your portfolio, not only one project. In such a case, you could define a marker at the portfolio level.
First, navigate to the Overview module (or move to the root/Home level of your initiative hierarchy) and switch to the Timeline view. Then, add a marker following the same process as we described above.
When you move back to the individual projects or programs, you will notice that they inherited the “portfolio marker.” You will also notice that you cannot delete it from the lower hierarchy level.
Please take a look at the example below.
Hint: You can also use markers on a Board timeline to represent the SAFe® milestones, including Program Increments (PIs).
How to track milestones and markers in Jira?
No matter how many markers and Jira milestones you have created, you can always conveniently track them.
First, on the right-hand side of your Gantt chart, you will find the Infobar. Here, you will see a list of all the milestones in your project. Inforbar is available in a Gantt module in BigGantt and BigPicture.
Second, in the Reports module, you can generate a Milestones & Markers report (available in BigPicture Enterprise). It will give you a quick view of your project’s or portfolio’s milestones and markers.
And finally, since you can add several markers to the same date, you also need a way to look them up, as you can see only one line on a particular day. Right-click on the marker and select Show markers list.
On the screenshot above, there are 3 markers on July 15, 2022: 1 belongs only to a given project; the other 2 come from the “upper” initiative.