How to save time using timeline templates for PowerPoint


Using timeline templates in PowerPoint

Timeline templates for PowerPoint to jump-start your planning process

If you have a project plan and want to see it through, you need to map out the steps required to achieve it, and then convey them on a timeline. An essential component of the planning process, a timeline allows you to visualize critical tasks and dates, creating an easy-to-follow roadmap for your project and helping you stay on track.

Building a timeline involves taking all the information you have about your project and turning it into a clear schedule of when everything is going to be done. But where and how to start?

The easiest way to make simple timelines is to start with a template and one of the handiest tools is Microsoft PowerPoint. As one of the most popular presentation platforms available, it helps you generate presentation-ready plans that you can easily display to your teams, executives or clients.

To guide you through the process of using timeline templates in PowerPoint, we’ve created this easy-to-follow blog post. Read on to find out the basic steps and don’t hesitate to give it a go yourself.

Is there a timeline template in PowerPoint?

With a variety of features to enhance a presentation, PowerPoint does include timeline templates as well. You can create a timeline either using PowerPoint’s native templates or the more advanced ones which come with the free PowerPoint plugin called Office Timeline. Below, we’ll explain how both alternatives work.

I. How to create a timeline using PowerPoint’s native timeline templates

  1. Create a new presentation or open an existing one in PowerPoint.
  2. Click on the File tab on the PowerPoint ribbon and go to New.
  3. Type ”timeline template” in the Search box at the top of the page and press Enter.
  4. Double click to choose your preferred template from the resulted examples.
  5. Start customizing your chosen model.
  6. Searching for timeline templates in PowerPoint

Although PowerPoint provides a pretty varied range of timeline templates you can choose from, you will need to update them manually whenever a change occurs. This can become not only time-consuming, but also frustrating if you want to apply some more custom updates to the visual.

II. How to create a timeline in PowerPoint using Office Timeline templates

Next, you will find out how to quickly build, customize and update your graphic using Office Timeline, an intuitive PowerPoint add-in that automates timeline creation and management. First, you need to install Office Timeline and you can get started with the 14-days trial for free. This will add a new tab to the PowerPoint ribbon.

You can make a timeline using any of Office Timeline’s built-in-app templates or by downloading one from the wide collection of examples in our timeline gallery.

II.1 Using Office Timeline’s built-in-app templates

  1. Inside PowerPoint, go to the Office Timeline tab, and then click on the New icon. From the dropdown menu, choose Templates.
  2. Office Timeline New Templates creation

  3. To select the preferred timeline template from the gallery that appears, double-click and then click on Use Template.
  4. Office Timeline Template Gallery

  5. In the Data wizard that opens next, enter your tasks, milestones and their set dates or copy and paste an existing schedule from Excel.
  6. In the same Data view, make a few styling choices such as changing the shape or color for each item.
  7. Office Timeline Data view

  8. In the Timeline view, use the drag&drop editor to adjust the layout and move elements around.
  9. Office Timeline Drag&Drop editor

  10. Once ready, click the green Create button.

II.2 Using a downloaded Office Timeline template

  1. Go the timeline template gallery and choose your favorite template.
  2. Click on the Download button under the template of your choice.
  3. Once downloaded, double-click to open it in PowerPoint.
  4. Follow the simple 3 steps provided on the first slide of the presentation.
  5. How to update a downloaded Office Timeline template

Once created, the timeline can be quickly styled further or updated automatically with the help of Office Timeline. For example, you can change shapes, colors, timescale and dates on the fly, or reposition items on the timeline using the add-in’s intuitive drag & drop interface. Not only that, but Office Timeline also allows you to create and save your own custom templates that you can use for future work.

If you want to build smart timelines as native PowerPoint slides that are easily shared and on which colleagues can collaborate right from the browser, you can also try out our simple, accessible online timeline maker.

That’s it! These are the basics steps to get started with a timeline template for PowerPoint – all you need to do now is to find the one that best suits your project and customize it to fit your particular data. Good luck!



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What Is a Timeline (with Examples and Templates)


10 timeline examples

What Is a Timeline?

A timeline is a type of graphic that arranges a chain of events in chronological order. Perfect for telling stories and visualizing projects and processes, timelines are generally used to:

  • Give an overview of events;
  • Detail an agenda;
  • Highlight critical points in time;
  • Depict different temporal relations;
  • Track progress over time of multiple events happening simultaneously;
  • Identify specific patterns within a course of procedure in a streamlined format.

What Should a Timeline Include?

Representing an alignment in time and making a chronological statement, a timeline should include the series of events and activities (milestones and tasks) that you want to display on your graphic, along with their dates to mark their occurrence over a particular phase.

Whether you employ this type of visual content for knowledge sharing or tracking the progress of a plan, here are the two main things you need to consider in order to outline the structure of a basic timeline:

  • Listing out the main steps/stages of your plan and setting clear deadlines/time reference points – break up your work into tasks with start and due dates to estimate how much time each of them will take;
  • Figuring out the logical order in which your tasks will occur – determine which of your tasks need to be completed first and whether there are any that can’t start until others are completed.

How to Create a Timeline

Now that we’ve covered what a timeline is and should include, you can create one from scratch or starting from a template. There are a variety of purpose-built tools to help you achieve this goal, and one of most accessible ones is our online timeline maker, that you can try for free right from your browser.

If drafting a timeline from start to finish is too time-consuming, opting for a template might be the better alternative. Below, we’ve put together a varied collection of 10 timeline examples that you can customize depending on your needs to effectively convey project plans, team schedules or workflows, and other similar chronologies. These are:



All of them have been designed natively in PowerPoint so that you and any team member who uses the presentation platform can contribute, edit and share them with ease.

Each of the templates can be customized in PowerPoint either:

  • by manually replacing the placeholder texts with your own data and restyling any colors, shapes, and positions;
  • or automatically, by using a PowerPoint add-in called Office Timeline.

If you opt for the second option, you need to install Office Timeline, which will add a new tab to the PowerPoint ribbon.

Office Timeline menu

Once the plugin is installed, follow these steps to quickly build, customize and update any of the timeline examples presented below:

  1. Click on the Download button under the template of your choice.
  2. Once downloaded, double-click to open it in PowerPoint.
  3. Select the Office Timeline tab on the PowerPoint ribbon, and then Click the Data Edit button.
  4. Edit the data with your own milestones and tasks.
  5. Click Save to instantly update the template.

Timeline Examples to Bring Your Plans into Action


1. Project Implementation Plan Timeline


Project Implementation Plan Timeline Example

EXPLORE AND DOWNLOAD TEMPLATE


Designed to help project managers and team leaders create clear tactical plans effortlessly, the project implementation plan template provides the much needed bird’s eye view of an entire project. By turning strategic goals into actionable steps, it enables all team members to quickly see what they are expected to deliver, when, and what tasks they need to complete. The easy-to-follow format makes this graphic a good tool not only for internal communication, but also for presenting the overall picture to management, clients and other non-project audiences.

Since effective planning lies at the heart of successful project management and delivery, this template can also be used to show relationships between activities, track individual task progress as the project moves forward, or identify at-risk tasks.


2. Gantt Chart Template


Gantt Chart Template Example

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Including a timeline with editable milestones to highlight key events, this free Gantt chart template outlines a project schedule at a high level in a simple and user-friendly manner. Unlike most Gantt charts that are complicated and difficult for other people to read and understand, this timeline template maps out the essential and can be easily included in communications such as project reviews, proposals, plans, scorecards and status meetings.


3. Marketing Plan Timeline


Marketing Plan Timeline Example

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Any good business initiative relies on a solid marketing plan which usually takes pages of documents to be detailed. This timeline example offers an effective reference point to support the delivery of your marketing plan and assess its progress. Use this free marketing timeline template to present important marketing strategies and communicate with clients, management and other high level audiences that need to be briefed in a clear, easy-to-understand way.


4. Sales Plan Timeline


Sales Plan Timeline Example

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Having a good sales plan is essential to achieving sales and marketing goals. This timeline template enables sales leaders, marketers and account executives to illustrate theirs with clear objectives laid out monthly, quarterly or annually and present it to staff, sales teams and management. Used as a visual aid in important meetings, it helps align organizations and management behind the key targets and deadlines of sales campaigns. Alternatively, it can serve as a scorecard to present a plan’s progress against its objectives.


5. Year Timeline


12-Month Timeline Example

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Since many business initiatives, campaigns, marketing programs, and personal projects are created over a 12-month term, the year timeline example is ideal to plan and outline your objectives before embarking on the actual venture. It gives you the visual aid to share and present your plan to stakeholders in a familiar graphical way to obtain the buy-in, state your intentions or update others on the progress that has been made.


6. Event Planning Timeline


Event Planning Timeline Example

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Illustrating all the major deadlines on a single summary slide, the event planning timeline was designed to give planners, their teams and partners the ability to keep track of what items need to be done and when. Easily accessible and shareable, this template helps you never lose sight of pending milestones and is a resourceful tool to manage teams and vendors.


7. Crime Timeline


Crime Timeline Example

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Providing a linear outline for events, this timeline template will help attorneys lay out the key facts and circumstances of their case in a way that is simple for any audience to understand. Use this timeline example to better structure arguments, analyze events, and prepare for trial with a chronological, visual exhibit that increases the jury’s understanding of your oral discourse.


8. Daily Schedule Timeline


Daily Schedule Timeline

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Graphically displayed as an hourly Gantt chart rather than as a spreadsheet, this downloadable timeline template can be easily be printed in full color, shared in emails or included in presentations. Unlike most list-based daily schedules which don’t accommodate schedule overlapping, this graphic comes with a simpler, easy-to-read layout that lets viewers check the calendar at a glance.


9. Pharmaceutical Product Discovery Timeline


Pharmaceutical Product Discovery Timeline

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This timeline template was designed to help pharma professionals involved in the development of a new drug to stay on track in this complex, multi-staged process. Covering the key phases of the discovery of pharmaceutical products, along with major milestones such as drug selection or approval, it documents the journey from research to commercialization and lays out a clear roadmap for a project of this magnitude.


10. Generic Timeline


Generic Timeline Example

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With a basic structure that displays a series of milestones and an elapsed time indicator on the timeband, this visual is suitable for historical presentations, project reviews, status reports, plan presentations, scorecards, or for any other effort that requires a simple project schedule or the illustration of a plan.


Check out more templates

For more examples to get inspired in building stylish timelines, visit our timeline gallery or explore the free, simple-to-use built-in-app templates offered by our online timeline maker.



Quickly turn project data into professional timelines

Build stunning timelines, roadmaps and Gantt charts that are easy to make and simple to communicate. Get the advanced features of Office Timeline Pro free for 14 days.

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Van Halen Timeline

Eddie Van Halen timeline

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Eddie Van Halen, legendary guitar virtuoso and co-founder of iconic rock group Van Halen, passed away on October 6, 2020 after a decade-long battle with cancer. While he might have shed his mortal coil to Jump with the angels, his legacy lives on: Eddie’s son Wolfgang took up his father’s – and uncle’s - mantle. The youngest Van Halen joined the hard rock quartet back in 2006 as bass player after the departure of Michael Anthony, and he’s already very popular with the fans. In Eddie’s own words, “To have my son follow in my footsteps on his own, without me pushing him into it, is the greatest feeling in the world".

One might say that talent runs in the family, since Eddie’s father - Jan van Halen was also an accomplished clarinet, saxophone and piano player. The fact of the matter is that, while the passion for music tends to be genetic for the Van Halens, it didn’t get the band to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame alone. Eddie and his brother Alex began studying the piano from the age of 6, then gave other instruments a pat-down before settling on the guitar and respectively, drums.

As a teen, Eddie would recall in an interview, he practiced the guitar everywhere, whenever he got the chance, sometimes while he was walking around with the instrument strapped to his chest. On the other hand, he also “confessed” to never being able to read music, and picking up songs near-perfectly be ear alone. Nature? Nurture?

Or perhaps it’s sheer ingenuity, considering Eddie did invent a new fingering technique based on a concept introduced by Jimmy Page AND a flip-out support device for the guitar that facilitates playing it like a piano. He even held a patent for the latter until 2005, when it expired. Let’s also remember that perseverance is a defining trait for the immigrant family who came to America in the 60s with a piano and 50 bucks to their name; they’re a prime example of living the American dream.

Van Halen albums timeline

Van Halen’s big break came in 1977 when Kiss frontman Gene Simmons watched their performance in a local club and immediately saw their potential. What followed was a contract with Warner Records and several multi-platinum albums including Van Halen II, Women and Children First, Diver Down and Fair Warning. 1984 and the album with the same name would elevate them to genuine superstar status.

Van Halen albums timeline

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Eddie’s journey was not without trouble. Alcoholism, drug abuse, divorce, a few band breakups and cancer marred his ascension to the top of the charts, but he never stopped fighting his demons. Eddie got sober in 2008 and would never again fall off the wagon. He stayed friends with Valerie Bertinelli after the divorce, with his ex-wife and son even attending the ceremony of the star’s second marriage to Janie Liszewski. Eddie would continue his battle against cancer until the very end, regularly flying to Germany for his radiation therapy.

Eddie Van Halen’s story arc speaks volumes about finding your passion and following through in spite of hardships, making mistakes and atoning for them, but most importantly never backing down in the face of adversity.

We have created the Eddie Van Halen timeline and the Van Halen albums timeline as a tribute to the rock legends using the Office Timeline PowerPoint add-in. You can download them free of charge as editable PowerPoint slides and add other major milestones that you feel we might have missed.



Quickly turn project data into professional timelines

Build stunning timelines, roadmaps and Gantt charts that are easy to make and simple to communicate. Get the advanced features of Office Timeline Pro free for 14 days.

GET FREE TRIAL

Top 5 Balanced Scorecard Software

To have a balanced view of their performance and assess their effectiveness, companies need to look at both financial and non-financial measures, along with their short- and long-term goals. One of the best ways to do this is by using a balanced scorecard, which needs to be regularly tracked with the help of an appropriate tool.

Since there is a variety of related options out there, choosing the right fit for your organization can be a real challenge. To help you make an informed decision, we have put together a list of selection criteria and the best 5 examples on the market.


Best Balanced Scorecard Software

Why Are Balanced Scorecards Important?

When it comes to defining what optimal business performance means and determining whether a company’s management is achieving the desired results, nothing works better than a balanced scorecard.

Translating an organization’s mission and values into a comprehensive set of actionable steps set to propel it into success, a balanced scorecard acts as an effective strategy planning and management framework.

To successfully build and implement a balanced scorecard, managers need to:

  • Articulate the business’s vision and strategy;
  • Identify the performance categories that best link a company’s strategic plans and various internal functions to their external outcomes;
  • Outline objectives that support the company’s vision and strategy;
  • Develop relevant standards to be observed in order to accomplish short-term and long-term milestones;
  • Ensure enterprise-wide acceptance of the measures;
  • Collect and analyze performance data and compare actual results with desired thresholds;
  • Create appropriate budgeting, tracking and communication systems;
  • Take corrective action to close unfavorable gaps.

Once a balanced scorecard is created, it is generally used to:

  • Update, clarify and enhance a company’s strategy;
  • Correlate strategic objectives with long-term targets and annual budgets;
  • Track the essential elements of the business strategy;
  • Incorporate strategic measures into the process of allocating resources;
  • Usher and facilitate organizational change;
  • Compare performance of geographically diverse business units;
  • Increase the understanding of the corporate vision and strategy at a company-wide level.

Given the many important purposes that a balanced scorecard can serve, it is critical for companies to regularly monitor and update it. By doing so, they can benefit from a constant feedback mechanism that lays down a clear direction towards achieving their goals. To get the best results, using a dedicated application to manage your balanced scorecard is recommended.

How to Choose the Best Balanced Scorecard Software for Your Organization

To decide which balanced scorecard option is the most appropriate for your business, the following attributes may serve as useful selection criteria:

  • Easy to use – you don’t want to settle for software that is too complicated for your team to use as it can result in frustration and poor results. A good scorecard application should be easy to learn and manage, intuitive, and coming with clear guidelines on how to operate it. Training, how-to support materials, and scorecard templates are a bonus.
  • Easy to customize – each organization has its own unique goals and strategies and, as a result, there are different balanced scorecards that can be used for different profiles. Hence, you should go for a system that allows customization to meet your specific needs. Balanced scorecard software solutions that come with a free trial are preferable because you can thus run a test before purchasing and determine whether it is a good investment or not.
  • Strategy map features – a quality balanced scorecard tool can create strategy maps of your BSC from different perspectives. It should let the user perform various tasks (adding logos, drawing arrows between objectives, moving and resizing objects on the graphic).
  • Visualization of organizational structure – your BSC-specific program should include powerful visualizations of organizational structure and strategy to allow you to communicate the relationship between the organization’s key performance indicators and objectives.
  • Dashboards – with dashboards, users can see the big picture at a glance, add live data in the form of images, graphs and text, monitor their critical data and drill down for more details on performance trends.
  • Annotation, attachments, and collaboration – these features will allow users to engage in discussions on certain items and make the information available from the different visualizations.
  • Reporting features – a good BSC tool should be able to generate figures, charts and relevant analysis so you can get both qualitative and quantitative reports for your company.
  • Export capabilities – the system of your choice should allow you to export data into a clear and organized manner (either in Excel, PowerPoint or .pdf format).
  • Automation and integration – many organizations want to adopt a BSC platform mainly to save time and efforts. Thus, look for software with features that can speed up processes (such as easy data entry and upload) and which integrates with other programs in place within your company.
  • Access rights – ensure that your system is able to limit the users’ access based on their rights and responsibilities so they can focus only on what they are supposed to view and work on.

Your Ultimate Balanced Scorecard Software List

Based on the key features outlined above, we’ve created a top of the most popular strategy planning solutions that you can use for managing your scorecard. Here they are:

  1. Sisense
  2. Office Timeline
  3. Corporater
  4. ClearPoint Strategy
  5. QuickStore

Let’s now take a closer look at each of these balanced scorecard tools.


1. Sisense

Powered by In-Chip and Stack technologies, Sisense enables even the most non-technical users to access data and build interactive dashboards and business intelligence reports. Providing a single, out-of-the-box interface to process and visualize large sets of variables without IT resources, it simplifies business analysis for complex data. You can use its drag-and-drop feature, one-click formulas and diverse range of dashboard widgets (geographical maps, line charts, scatter plots, gauges and pie charts) to measure KPIs, determine trends, highlight correlations, compare and pinpoint the best representation of your input.

Feature Overview:

  • Joining data from multiple sources;
  • Drag & drop joining of multiple data sources;
  • Creation and sharing of interactive dashboards;
  • Capability to query data in real time;
  • Offers a wide range of deployment options;
  • Access right control;
  • Demo available;
  • Custom pricing based on your business’s profile.

Sisense Scorecard Software

2. Office Timeline

Available as both a desktop add-in (Office Timeline) and online application (Office Timeline Online), it is a user-friendly, ready-to-use tool that helps users to create a variety of strategy management visuals as presentation-ready, native PowerPoint slides. Featuring a diverse gallery of pre-designed templates, an intuitive drag&drop interface and smart layout engine that automatically generates representations of your data, the software is ideal for non-technical users.

Feature Overview:

  • Easy data import functionality and pre-built templates to set you up faster;
  • Rich data management and customization functionalities (task/milestone creation and assigning capabilities, shapes, colors, percentage complete and status indicators for progress tracking, same-row and swimlane grouping of activities);
  • Integration with Excel, MS Project, Smartsheet and Wrike;
  • Flexible export capabilities (as Excel files, PowerPoint slides and PNG images);
  • Share & Collaboration functionality and data access rights option to allow multi-party editing on the same visual with no need for registration;
  • Fully-functional freemium model for both versions (desktop add-in users limited to 10 rows of data; visuals generated with the web-based app being watermarked if the 10-row limit is exceeded);
  • Price: the Office Timeline Online paid plan costs $59/year; the Office Timeline PowerPoint add-in Pro edition costs $99/year with a 14-day free trial available as well.

Office Timeline Scorecard Software

3. Corporater

Providing a business management platform that includes all the core elements related to a BSC and which adapts to the user’s unique business model, Corporater empowers medium and large companies to assess, manage and continuously improve their performance. With functions and capabilities that allow you to link multiple management disciplines (compliance, strategy, risk, operations, finance, HR and others), Corporater’s interface lets you create custom management solutions for strategy, KPIs, performance and business dashboards.

Feature Overview:

  • Balanced scorecard and XPP model;
  • Easy-to-use strategy map designer;
  • Perspectives and strategic objectives components;
  • Cascading of strategy and alignment;
  • Data source integrations;
  • Annotations;
  • Goal management functions;
  • Progress tracking features;
  • Pricing quote on request.

Corporater Scorecard Software


4. ClearPoint Strategy

ClearPoint is a strategy execution tool that lets professionals easily manage objectives, measures, initiatives and action items in one place. Its users are able to create and customize a single scorecard or multiple cascading scorecards, as well as to automatically generate and distribute a variety of reports. With features to link and align goals and KPIs and to integrate data from different sources, ClearPoint makes it simple for you to execute on your strategic plan.

Feature Overview:

  • Scorecard and dashboard creation, updating and customization options;
  • Data integration from multiple sources;
  • Automation engine;
  • Reporting capabilities;
  • Notification system;
  • Objective, initiative, measure and action item management functions;
  • On-page editing;
  • Integrated help and tooltips;
  • Demo available on request;
  • Prices ranging from $250/month (Basic Plan) to $800/month (Professional Plan).

ClearPoint Strategy Scorecard Software


5. QuickScore

QuickScore is a flexible cloud-based strategy and KPI management tool that allows companies, organizations and government agencies to user their own strategic model, whether that is the BSC, the Ansoff Matrix, the Strategic Horizons or an in-house strategic process. Officially recommended by the Balanced Scorecard Institute, it automates your BSC once you enter your perspectives, objectives and measures.

Feature Overview:

  • Automatically generated scorecards and strategy maps based on data entry;
  • Color-coded customization and update options for objectives, initiatives, KPIs;
  • Live dashboard sharing with non-registered parties;
  • Linked actions and cascading scorecards;
  • Goal tracking function;
  • Drill-down capabilities;
  • Search widget and alerts system;
  • Product tour available and live demo offered upon appointment;
  • Price: $95/month per user (payable quarterly or annually; one month free for the latter payment plan).

QuickScore Scorecard Software


Conclusion

Effectively creating and managing your balanced scorecard heavily depends on the software that you use for this particular purpose. We hope that the options outlined in this blog post will guide you towards choosing the most suitable solution for you.


Balanced Scorecard Software Overview


Software Key benefit
Price Free trial
1. Sisense Simplifies business analysis for complex data Custom pricing on request Test drive available
2. Office Timeline Creates strategy management visuals as native PowerPoint slides From $59/year Both 14-day free trial and freemium versions available with no obligations
3. Corporater Links multiple management disciplines Pricing quote on request On request
4. ClearPoint Strategy Integrates data from different sources From $250/month Free 15-day trial conditioned by a demo
5. QuickScore Automatically generates scorecards and strategy maps $95/month per user Test drive available



Quickly turn project data into professional timelines

Build stunning timelines, roadmaps and Gantt charts that are easy to make and simple to communicate. Get the advanced features of Office Timeline Pro free for 14 days.

GET FREE TRIAL

Top 10 Swimlane Software for Project Management

Best Swimlane Software

What are swimlanes in project management?

Swimlane diagrams are an excellent tool for visually organizing a complex project. They achieve this by grouping specific tasks, milestones, business processes and other elements together into “lanes” divided by parallel lines, hence the association with the world of swimming competitions.

Generally, a swimlane diagram will define the employee or department handling certain tasks, the stage of the project when a task should be handled, etc. In the context of visuals illustrating a workflow or processes, you might also find them under the name of cross-functional flowcharts.

Types of swimlane diagrams

Swimlanes can be added to virtually any type of project visual, providing of course that the categories make sense to the PM and are useful in decluttering the layout of the graph. For the sake of simplicity, we have decided to split the applications in three major categories:

At the same time, this post is dedicated to tools that are primarily designed for the purpose of transforming data into visual representations. Find out how to create a timeline in Excel or if you want to learn how to make a Gantt chart in PowerPoint, check out our additional resources.

Related guides:

Let’s now take a closer look at some of the most popular project management solutions that can integrate swimlanes in their repertoire of visualization tools.


  Top 10 swimlane software for project management shortlist:

  Here are the best tools for creating swimlane diagrams:

  1. Kanbanize
  2. Planview
  3. Zenkit
  4. Office Timeline
  5. Monday
  6. Toggl Plan
  7. OnePager
  8. Visio
  9. Lucidchart
  10. Gliffy

Kanban boards

One of the best-known strategies in agile project management for limiting the number of simultaneous tasks and prioritizing them in order to maximize efficiency are Kanban boards. Swimlanes are inherent to their design. The system quickly earned adepts in software development and this helped it make the transition from physical to digital. Before we get started with the apps in this category, here’s a Kanban board example to better illustrate the concept:

Kanband board

Let’s find out who’s on our list!


1. Kanbanize

The company behind Kanbanize, Businessmap LTD, was founded back in 2008 and their vision is aligned with modern corporate values such as scalability, collaboration and automation. The flexibility of the application allows it to easily adapt to any industry’s requirements. This claim is supported by their diversified clientele that includes Bose, GoDaddy, Epic Games, Mozilla and Arsenal FC.

Swimlane made with Kanbanize

The agile project management software features comprehensive boards that can be updated at any point, permissions that can be defined and customized, event triggers, email integration, analytics and time-tracking capabilities. Kanbanize simplifies the job of PMs working with multiple teams via the Management Workspace, which permits distributing and tracking work across multiple projects from a single interface.

With respect to users’ feedback, Kanbanize could be improved by adding integration with external apps and better options for card finding, particularly in environments with numerous pages.


2. Planview Enterprise One

Planview’s mission is to make the transition from strategy to delivery across organizations as painless as possible. In other words, their application is designed to translate high-level objectives into very specific, achievable and actionable steps and deliver strategic initiatives. With tools like roadmaps, Planview bridges the gap between the resources and projects. Vertical swimlanes are used to categorize the cards in each sub-section of the Kanban board for more visibility.

Swimlane made with Planview

What’s more, it also includes analytics and enables you to create presumptive scenarios, then compare outcomes and determine the best course of action investment-wise.

For Planview Enterprise one, the complexity can also be perceived as a setback, because it steepens the learning curve. When the Kanban board grows, the numerous configurable columns on the swimlanes become a bit intimidating, particularly when users lack an extensive experience.


3. Zenkit

Synergy is the word of the day with this Kanban project management tool. Like the popular TV series character Dirk Gently, the team behind Zenkit believes that ‘everything is connected’, and they apply this principle in terms of tasks, client data, business documentation, etc. Their belief is best illustrated by their import feature, and API that seamlessly integrates with thousands of other apps to bring in external data, hassle free.

Swimlane made with Zenkit

Designed primarily as a Kanban board, Zenkit also has the ability to create Gantt charts and timelines, when this type of visualization would facilitate understanding the project’s next steps. Checklists and to-do lists with flexible labels, collaboration, formulas, offline mode and mobile versions are part of their arsenal as well.

The app does struggle a bit with larger teams, particularly in the free version: there have been some reports of lag and general slowness in this respect.


Timeline and Gantt charts

Gantt charts and timelines are the ideal visualization tools for illustrating the tasks and milestones of a project against the backdrop of timeband, because they allow users to frame everything in context. Swimlanes are not native to them. In fact, here’s a Gantt chart example without swimlanes:

Gantt chart

However, much like adding chocolate sprinkles on icecream, swimlanes give Gantt charts and timelines extra flavour. A swimlane diagram is considerably easier to organize and understand the more tasks and milestones you have. Check out this swimlane diagram example:

Swimlane diagram

Gantt charts and roadmaps created as swimlane diagrams are quite popular in project management because they are extremely visual. Task, for instance are depicted as bars with lengths varying according to their individual duration, permitting you to figure out how all the puzzle pieces fit together. Whenever you’re fleshing out a project, these graphs make the planning and execution less convoluted. Let’s check out the contestants.


4. Office Timeline

A timeline and Gantt chart maker tool developed to synergize with PowerPoint and leverage the functionalities of the popular presentation software, Office Timeline is available as an add-in for it and a standalone, browser-based version. Ease of use, an extensive line of beautifully designed swimlane templates, an intuitive interface and the absence of any serious learning curve are the key points that recommend this application for non tech savvy users in the PM field.

Swimlane made with Office Timeline

Furthermore, the PowerPoint integration allows you to create the Gantt charts and roadmaps with the same software you will use to hold the presentation to your stakeholders, saving time and resources. Office Timeline is compatible with other frequently used project management apps like Excel, Smartsheet, Wrike and even MS Project, so you can import data and sync changes to the source file.

Office Timeline templates

Office Timeline currently only produces Gantt charts, timelines and roadmaps with swimlanes, but the application is in continuous development and extra features as well as new templates are being added all the time.


5. Monday

It may not be anyone’s favorite day of the week, but it’s definitely a cloud-based project management software worth checking out. Monday relies on a unique style of color and placement to organize and manage teams. Color coding isn’t by any means new or groundbreaking. However, Monday makes good use of it to convey information like who’s assigned to a task, due dates, statuses and progress in general.

Swimlane made with Monday

At its core, Monday is not exactly a Gantt chart maker, but it can become one by adding the Timeline widget to the dashboard. Monday also shines in terms of assigning specific tasks to team members, Then, via the Timeline view mode, you can access a comprehensive overview of all projects.

The main challenges of this project management software come from the per-user pricing limitations, limited mobile app capabilities and difficulties with expense and time tracking.


6. Toggl Plan

Similarly to Office Timeline, Toggl Plan is a PM tool designed with simplicity and ease of use in mind. New users will appreciate the fact that its interface doesn’t overwhelm you from the start with a plethora of complex features and settings. The philosophy behind this planner is that micro-management stifles creativity and should be avoided, which is why Toggle is geared towards creating swimlane diagrams as high level overviews, like the one below.

Swimlane made with Toggl Plan

However, this is where the similarities between the two Gantt chart makers end. Toggle Plan is not as design focused and the way visual elements are illustrated border on spartan minimalism, but it does include Kanban Board capabilities and to-do lists.

According to most users, more integrations with external apps and a simplification and the addition of an invoicing system are the main grow points for the Toggl app.


7. OnePager

This application also has something in common with Office Timeline: it is designed as an add-in for a popular Microsoft application, namely Microsoft Project. By taking the task-level data from Project, it can export multiple phases or a complete, simplified schedule as a Gantt chart or timeline, with or without the swimlanes.

Swimlane made with OnePager

Those of your who worked with Microsoft Project before are painfully aware of the tool’s complexity and the lack of simple visual customizations available. OnePager aims to change that by transforming the project schedules into swimlane diagrams focused on the audience, and that can be edited with ease, while preserving the integrity of the original data. Bonus, this project management app also allows exporting the results as Gantt charts with swimlanes in PowerPoint slides.

Now, on the downside, Microsoft Project is a pretty great application, but it’s not always the best option, especially if you’re going for a high-level overview. Therefore, OnePager’s limitation comes from the platform this Gantt chart maker was built on.


Flowchart makers

Flowchart diagrams can be used to represent an operation or a process visually, and rely on logical steps. This is why, in addition to project management and the development of business plans, another practical use for them is the design of mathematical algorithms. They can have just a few steps or can grow to be incredibly complex, which is when you can introduce swimlanes to organize them more easily. Here’s a swimlane diagram example of what a flowchart might look like:

Flowchart example

Now, onto the apps!


8. Microsoft Visio

Visio is often listed as the go-to application for flowchart design, thanks to the wide variety of diagrams it can produce. Featuring templates for networking, floor plans, data processes and much more, this Microsoft application is part of the Office 365 package. However, according to users, that can be a double-edged sword because you don’t always know what version you’re going to get; it really depends on the type O365 package you purchase.

Swimlane made with Visio

In addition to the templates, Visio also includes an extensive shape and stencil library, which make it a great interdisciplinary tool. Another plus for Visio is that it’s very easy to showcase the relationship between multiple elements on the flowchart without cluttering the visuals too much. Because it’s part of the Microsoft suite, it also boasts integration with other applications like Excel or Access, allowing you to pull data directly from the databases.

What most users struggle with are the publishing and sharing of the flowchart diagrams, and the lack of a browser-based or Mac/Linux version.


9. Lucidchart

According to some users, Lucidchart is a far superior flowchart maker compared to Visio from several standpoints, but the one most often noted is the ease of use. We have to agree here. From the first steps you’ll notice that the learning curve is virtually non-existent and the interface – in Lucidchart’s case a web app – is very intuitive. Bonus points for having an offline mode in spite of this.

Swimlane made with Lucidchart

Lucidchart can produce cross-functional flowchart diagrams to keep even complex plans nice and tidy. On the same note, it allows working on separate layers and containers, for easy categorization. Once you’re done, you can use the Presentation mode to showcase the work, but you can also publish it or share it as an URL.

There aren’t many complaints around Lucidchart as a whole. One of the things users would like to see in future updates are the ability to auto-expire links. Some tweaks around the snap-to-grid which is thrown out of balance when the canvas size changes would also be welcome.


10. Gliffy

Are you looking for a solution that allows you to quickly draw a swimlane flowchart without installing a single thing? There are moments when speed, ease of use and simplicity trump all other factors, and that’s exactly Gliffy’s time to shine. This application also seamlessly integrates with popular platforms such as Slack, Trello, Confluence, WordPress, G Suite and many others. Collaboration and templates for all the basic styles of flowchart diagrams are what Gliffy excels at.

Swimlane made with Gliffy

Speaking of basics, there’s only a handful of formats supported for exporting your newly drawn swimlane diagrams (JPG, PNG, SVG, and Gliffy), but on the other hand they are the most frequently used. Lastly, it’s worth mentioning that this flowchart creator is by far one of the most inexpensive alternatives around, although most users describe the available plans as slightly awkward.

There’s scope to grow for Gliffy, and it’s by no means as comprehensive as Lucidchart or Visio.


Conclusion

Before picking a project management software with swimlane capabilities, it’s advisable to determine what type of diagram would work best with your organizing style and context. The list here is by no means exhaustive; let us know what your favorite application is in the comments!

If you favor timelines and Gantt charts, check out this blog post for a list of the best Gantt chart apps on the market that are worth exploring.


Best Swimlane Software for Project Management Overview


Rank Type
Software Description
1 Kanban Board Kanbanize An agile project management tool with time tracking, email integration, automated events and analytics
2 Kanban board Planview Enterprise One A complex and comprehensive Kanban Board for designed for actionable plans capable of analytics and what-if scenarios.
3 Kanban board Zenkit A simple but powerful PM tool that leverages synergies and integrates with many external platforms.
4 Gantt chart & Timeline maker Office Timeline An intuitive and easy to use timeline, Gantt chart and roadmap maker that relies on beautiful, professionally designed templates, aimed at the less tech-savvy user groups in PM.
5 Gantt chart & Timeline maker Monday A more complex application that leverages color coding to simplify the project overview.
6 Gantt chart & Timeline maker Toggl Plan An easy to use timeline maker with minimalist graphics.
7 Gantt chart & Timeline maker OnePager A Microsoft Project add-in that can render easily editable Gantt charts based on the source file data.
8 Flowchart maker Visio Microsoft’s flowchart creator that boasts extensive templates, shapes and customization options.
9 Flowchart maker Lucidchart A simpler and easier to use alternative to Microsoft’s Visio.
10 Flowchart maker Gliffy Out-of-the box minimalistic flowchart maker with no installation required.


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