Industry Contributors

Mastering Milestones: Effective Construction Management with Construction Project Dashboards

March 4, 2024
9 min read

They weren’t kidding when they said Rome wasn’t built in a day. It actually took over 1,000 years to build the ancient Roman Empire, which probably wouldn’t surprise any construction pro.

Construction management is a complicated system of moving parts involving internal stakeholders, clients, on-site employees, project managers, logistics, supply chain, and safety officers. All of that ladders up into a complex industry that requires complete solutions when it comes to modernizing project management strategies.

With so many moving parts, it’s easy to see why construction project managers often turn to project tracking as a method of organization. Project tracking is the real-time tracking of data points to assess productivity, pain points, budgets, and milestones. In the world of construction management, project tracking via a centralized project management dashboard is the foundation of any buildout.

But a well-organized dashboard hosted on the right software can go a long way in construction management. Construction management informed by a dynamic project dashboard to identify project milestones, streamline communication, alleviate bottlenecks, manage personnel, and stay on budget.

Understanding Project Milestones in Construction

What are project milestones?

Project milestones are markers of key project aspects — including phases, deadlines, deliverables, or actions. Project milestones are used to indicate progress toward project completion.

The project management institute (PMI), identifies five phases in project management: initiation, planning, execution, monitoring, controlling, and closure. Entering each new phase is a project milestone within itself, but every phase has its own unique milestones with regard to a given project.

Project milestones are often identified in the planning phase and are then used as a guide post for determining the schedule of a project. Milestones give project managers an accurate idea of how long it will take to complete the overall project, setting realistic expectations in terms of timelines and budgets.
At its core, project tracking revolves around project milestones. It is important to track project milestones to stay on track with a project deadline and, subsequently, on budget.

Project milestones in construction

Behind every major construction project is hundreds of tiny, individual tasks. These tasks add up to milestones — key moments in a project that are pre-identified in the planning stage and used to keep a project on schedule and on budget. In the case of construction, milestones can be leveraged to inform major aspects of the budget, including material and labor costs.

It’s important for construction project managers to pay careful attention to detail in milestone tracking — especially when it comes to budgeting. In the world of construction management, a single overlooked task or milestone can throw a major wrench in a project. This can have negative implications for the overall timeline, not only delaying the completion of a job but also exceeding the budget.

Project milestones often revolve around key events, metrics, or phases. Common examples of project milestones in construction are as follows:

  • Contract signings

  • Material sourcing

  • Securing permits

  • Project kickoff

  • Design approval

  • Architectural approval

  • Document collections

  • Completing structural framing

  • Laying foundation

  • Patios or enclosures

  • Finishing details

  • System installations

  • Material sourcing

  • Project completion

What are Construction Project Dashboards?

The construction industry is the definition of a distributed workforce, with employees stationed at multiple job sites, warehouses, and even offices. With each team physically siloed, it’s easy for organizational systems to become siloed in turn. In an industry that runs on communication — whether it’s filing permits, flagging problems, or even paying the bills — it’s important that nothing gets lost in a sea of missed emails, cluttered spreadsheets, or piles of jobsite-related paperwork. Struggling to manage information or assets can grind progress to a halt. Especially when working across the field and back office, doing work on the go becomes incredibly difficult without the right capabilities and dashboards.

This way of working may have been good enough in the past, but it’s enough to get the job done in today’s dynamic, digital world.

About Construction Project Dashboards

A construction project dashboard is the blueprint for successful projects — from commercial and residential buildings to bespoke and large-scale projects. The construction project dashboard enables the management of complex projects from concept to closeout by tracking milestones, budgets, and resources.

Key Uses of Project Dashboards in Construction Management

  • Document Management. The sheer amount of paperwork that goes into a single construction project could fill up a file cabinet, easily. Whether you’re uploading original company documents or making use of Quickbase’s customizable templates, dashboards turn piles of paper into neatly organized hubs of critical project documents, including building plans, project bids, and inventory forms.

  • Mobile features. When questions come up, employees don’t have to jump through hoops to find solutions. Instead, they can turn to an app right on their phones and easily access schedules, important documents, project specifications, timelines for project milestones, and more.

  • Equipment and Materials Management. Often, construction entails a lot of moving parts. Literally. Project dashboards act as a single source of truth for company equipment to keep track of all the equipment needed to get the job done across a project life cycle — from the smallest nail to the tallest crane.

  • Communicate easily. Miscommunications are apt to happen if your team communicates across platforms. Mobile applications, like Quickbase, allow for streamlined communication to occur across offices and sites. Quickbase’s software can also help manage communications between contractors and clients.

  • Reporting. Quickbase allows users to see real-time data, which enables pattern and trend recognition within multiple projects. Create customizable reports tailored to specific recipients, tracking relevant metrics for everything from permits and budgets to milestones and proposals.

  • Compliance and safety. Project management software allows users to update important safety protocols easily. For example, Consigli Construction uses Quickbase to prioritize safety without compromising on productivity. They’ve reduced organizational clutter and made duplicative paperwork a thing of the past through streamlined safety procedures that include modernized training protocols, paperless form distribution, and site-specific quality checks.

Why Dashboards are Crucial for Tracking Project Milestones

Did you know that, according to research from McKinsey, 98 percent of construction projects incur cost overruns or delays?

But with centralized project dashboards, construction project managers are given a real-time, bird’s eye view into the current status of a project — including its finances. In particular,project tracking enables leaders to effectively manage budgets through real-time budget control, expense tracking, and financial reviews and approvals.
Research shows that 9 out of 10 construction projects encounter overrun, or go over the projected budget. But utilizing project management software makes it easy to keep track of expenses. For example, the Gantt chart view can be used within a project dashboard to view the status of a given milestone in real time. This makes it easy to identify and quickly address any bottlenecks, delays, or unforeseen circumstances. When roadblocks are identified early, they are easy to solve and cause less of a financial headache.

Project dashboards can also be automated to carry out routine budget tracking functionalities. Project dashboards can be used to track budgets when it comes to all aspects of construction, including labor, materials, equipment, and overhead. When left unchecked, it’s easy for projects to balloon past the expected budget. In time, this can have a lasting, negative impact on client relations, business reputation, profits, and external partnerships. Bottom line: Watch that budget.

5 Best Practices for Using Dashboards in Construction Project Management

Dashboards give project managers a micro and macro view of a project, allowing them to see not only the broad timeline but also the status of every task. This real-time vantage point allows project managers to spot any potential risks, flag budding problems before they have a chance to snowball, oversee budgets, track milestones, and more. The following are five best practices for using data-driven dashboards in construction management.

  1. Communicate often and honestly. Regular, honest communication encourages seamless collaboration from employees across sectors, whether they work in the field or at a desk.

  2. Stay up-to-date in real-time. Monitor progress, project milestones, workload, and budgets. Create and distribute reports regularly among stakeholders to stay ahead of issues — and on deadline.

  3. Automate repetitive tasks. Automate manual tasks to reduce errors, Gray Work, and wasted effort. Automating gray work allows employees to stop pushing paper and start working on projects that drive results forward.

  4. Create and distribute diverse reports. Leverage project dashboard automation systems to create in-depth reports that can be distributed to groups of stakeholders with varied KPIs.

  5. Lean into visuals. Did you know that Inc. reports that 65% of all people are visual learners? Quickbase’s low-code platform offers a wide range of options to present data in a polished, professional manner, from simple pie, line, and bar graphs to interactive Kanban and Gantt views.

Case study: Canadian Solar Inc. Harnesses the Power of Quickbase

Canadian Solar Inc., a global energy solutions provider, lacked a central system for tracking and managing multiple solar installation projects. Due to technology constraints stemming from existing Microsoft SharePoint systems, Canadian Solar Inc. had data it wanted to share with contractors, vendors, clients, and lenders, but was unable to communicate effectively.

That’s where Quickbase came in. The fully customizable, no-code project management software allowed Canadian Solar to create bespoke project dashboards that addressed their specific needs. These dashboards helped to manage budget issues, productivity bottlenecks, and project schedules.

Now, Canadian Solar harnesses the power of a well-organized project dashboard in order to stay on budget and on deadline.


Managing a single construction project — let alone hundreds, simultaneously — takes lots of planning from a thorough understanding of the industry, safety protocols, contractor capabilities, design specifications, client wants, and finances.

Still, construction project management shouldn’t feel like juggling hundreds of pieces. With the right software, it can be a well-organized series of processes. Using tools like project dashboards to identify and track project milestones helps dynamic teams reduce gray work, stay on budget, and deliver high quality results. With access to the right tools, construction managers can reach new heights. Start building with Quickbase today. Try a free trial of Quickbase today!