Guest Post: Using Office Timeline to Communicate Detailed Engineering Schedules

Hello, I'm Mannix and I've been working for years in project control roles on industrial engineering projects in the oil and gas, pharmaceutical and infrastructure industries. Over the years, I have experienced several poorly planned, chaotic and demoralizing projects. These experiences motivated me to find and document the tools, process and techniques that allowed for the thoughtful, efficient and well executed project delivery.

In this article, I will explain how I use Office Timeline to convert Primavera P6 schedules into easy to understand project plans. I have found this approach to work really well when planning, communicating and executing on engineering projects.

How to Plan for Engineering Projects

Planning an oil and gas engineering project means coordinating thousands of activities. The activities define how the engineering, procurement and construction phases of the project interrelate with each other, and therefore must be developed and organized in great detail.

Enterprise planning systems such as Primavera P6 are typically used to plan the activities and align the project schedule to the cost estimate. The finalized detailed schedule then forms the basis of the contractual relationships between the contractors and suppliers who will work on the project.

One of the dangers of a detailed project schedule is that the forest gets lost for the trees. A comprehensive project schedule for a large oil and gas engineering project quickly turns into a very large document, often up to forty pages long. While it describes the work that needs to be done, it does not communicate the overall plan for the project very clearly. All the pages of data hide the key project activities and deliverables that need to be understood in order for the project to be a success.

As a project planner, I get around this problem by creating two documents. The first is the project schedule, which breaks the project scope into executable chunks and identifies the logical steps needed to get the work done. The second is a project plan, which clearly communicates the key phases and milestones for a project. Read on, and I’ll try to explain the differences in more detail.

Project Plan versus Project Schedule

Simply put, a project plan tells us about where we are going and a project schedule tells us how we are going to get there. Let's discuss them one by one.

What a Project Schedule Does:

1. Defines what - Work Breakdown Structure (WBS)

The WBS is the basis of project management. It breaks the project down into logical pieces and allows the time, cost and scope of a project to be managed.

2. Defines who - Organisational Breakdown Structure (OBS)

This allows each person working on the project to see the activities that they are working on and the key interfaces that they are responsible for.

3. Schedules the work

This means that the logical relationships between project activities and work packages are correctly applied. The resulting sequence means that activities are started and finished in the right order.

4. Defines the time phased budget

The project schedule can be matched with the cost estimate to produce a time phased budget. This gives the project team the likely manpower and cost over the project timeline. This is critical for accurate project staffing and cashflow.

What a Project Plan Does:

1. Identifies the products and milestones

The key project deliverables and milestone dates are identified. This allows the project outcomes to interact with the business objectives of the project.

2. Allows non-experts to understand the project

Project decision makers often do not have the knowledge of the experts who work on a project. The project plan should give everyone involved with the project a working knowledge of the execution strategy and the project outputs.

3. Allows a project manager to sell the value of the project

Being able to clearly tie the project objectives to a detailed project schedule makes everyone feel confident about the overall project management team. An easy to communicate project plan is a vital part of doing this.

How I use Office Timeline to create a project plan from Primavera P6 data

For a project management team, the plan must be sold to a client group and possibly a number of vendor and supplier organisations. In order to do this effectively, the project must be communicated succinctly, preferably on a single page.

When I develop a detailed schedule in Primavera P6, I export the activities and dates into an Excel workbook. I can then import this file into the Office Timeline plugin in Powerpoint. The benefit of this is that as the project details are tweaked, I can easily update the P6 schedule and the Excel export and have an accurate project schedule and project plan for the project team to use.

To do this in Office Timeline is easy. I take my schedule in Primavera P6 and copy the data by clicking select all in the edit field and pressing control+c to copy all the text.

compare to 100 dollar US bill

I then paste the data into an Excel file and save the file in a suitable folder. This file will be the link between my Primavera P6 schedule and the project plan in Office Timeline. Whenever I update my Primavera P6 schedule I update the Excel file and refresh the changes into Office Timeline.

compare to 100 dollar US bill

I then open PowerPoint and use the import function in the Office Timeline ribbon.

compare to 100 dollar US bill

From here I can select the activities and milestones that I want included on my project plan. I generally use a mix of WBS descriptions, activities and milestones from my Primavera P6 schedule to create a meaningful project plan.

compare to 100 dollar US bill

And here you have it, a concise and easily understood project plan.

compare to 100 dollar US bill

I hope you have found the distinction between a project plan and a project schedule useful as you develop engineering schedules with your project teams. And when it comes to communicating your plan, I have found the combination of Office Timeline and a detailed Primavera P6 schedule to work really well. It brings together two powerful professional tools to make a project planner's life easier.

Related content:

Top 10 Task Management Software Based on User Reviews

Your project communications must have impact

How to Add Meaning and Logic to Your Timelines


Taylor Croonquist
Mannix Carney is a project planner based in Calgary, Canada, with over 15 years of experience in planning in the oil, gas and pharmaceutical industries. He writes about Primavera P6 and project planning for large scale projects at www.ProjectPlanningHq.com.







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3 Rules for Creating Effective Data Visualizations

Have you ever read a report and gotten lost in an overwhelming number of statistics?

Or maybe you were presented with so many specific details about a topic that you lost sight of the big picture?

It happens all the time and it's no surprise why. As a species, we are now producing 2.5 quintillion bytes of data every single day. That's one million times one trillion pieces of data, and it's too much for the human mind to keep up with.

That's why when it comes to presenting data and getting your point across, I've got two words for you: data visualization.

Data visualization is the secret art of translating your information into effective graphics, charts and visuals that your audience can understand, to help you make more convincing arguments during your presentations.

When people start to see the big picture (literally) instead of all the small numbers, they're more likely to pay attention to what you're saying.

The benefits of using data visualization in your presentations

When done properly, data visualization has three core benefits:

1. Increases the clarity of your message.

2. Increases people’s confidence in your proposals and conclusions.

3. Creates interesting talking points out of otherwise overwhelming amounts of information.

That’s why if you plan on using data to inform or persuade during your next presentation, it’s worth taking the time to create clear data visualizations to back up your points.

But how do you do that? Here are three general data visualization techniques you can use to create clear graphics and visuals out of almost any type of data you have.


How to use data visualization:
1. Translate big numbers into tangible objects
2. Add a visual graph to your projects
3. Compare your number to historical, future or comparative figures


Rule #1: Translate big numbers into tangible objects

Large numbers can be hard for your audience to relate to. This is especially true if you are presenting numbers in the billions and trillions. While everyone knows that 1 billion or trillion is a large number, it’s too big for your audience to connect with on an emotional level.

The first rule of creating effective data visualizations is to break your large numbers down to some tangible unit that your audience can grasp like miles, pounds, length, height, etc. The reason this works so well is it translates your vague number into something that everyone can visualize.

For example, the U.S. National Deficit in 2018 was $21.6 trillion dollars. While $21.6 trillion is big, how big is it really?

If your point is that this is an extremely large number, here are two different ways you could try to break that number down into a more tangible number your audience can appreciate.

Method #1: Break it down by the length of U.S. $100 bills

compare to 100 dollar US bill

The U.S. $100 bill is just over 6 inches long. Translated into $21.6 trillion dollars, that equates to 20.9 million miles of U.S. $100 bills lined up end to end. That is enough to wrap around the planet approximately 842 times.

Method #2: Divide the number by the world population of 7.7 billion

divide by world population

$21.6 trillion divided by the world population of 7.7 billion is $2,805. That’s like the U.S. government owing every man, woman and child on the planet a check for $2,805.00 in 2018.

Rule #2: Add a visual graphic to your projects

If you are presenting dates, times or steps to a process, explain your project using a Gantt chart or timeline to visualize your data. The reason this data visualization technique works so well, is it makes your overall project easier to understand and digest in comparison to simply listing your dates out in a table or text box. Here's an example so you can see for yourself:

add a visual graphic

In the picture above, notice how much clearer the project is when presented in a visual graphic instead of a table. That gives your audience a spatial awareness of your project, allowing everyone to more fully understand how your project will progress.

Rule #3: Compare your number to historical, future or comparative figures

If you have a specific number or statistic you want to present, you can make your number more impactful by comparing it to something to give it context. The reason that this data visualization technique works so well is that a number by itself doesn’t mean much without context.

For example, having quarterly sales of $4.5 million doesn’t mean much unless you compare it something. Notice how in the chart on the left, $4.5 million is a year on year decrease in sales, while on the right it is a year on year increase. It all depends on your reference.

add a visual graphic

When you are looking to give your numbers context, the three easiest pieces of data you can use are:

●  A future forecast - comparing how you did against your projections.
●  Historical figures - comparing how you did against your historical, past performance.
●  Your competitors - comparing how you did against your competitors over the same time period.

To recap, here are the three most effective data visualization techniques you can use to deliver presentations that people understand and remember: compare to a real object, include a visual, and give context to your numbers. Try using one or more of these techniques in your next presentation. The clearer your data visualizations, the easier it will be to inform and educate your audience.

Related content:

How to Make Project Plan Presentations for Clients and Execs

Kick-off Project Planning with a High-Level Schedule

How to Make Gantt Charts and Timelines on a Mac


Taylor Croonquist
Taylor Croonquist is the co-founder of Nuts & Bolts Speed Training, a PowerPoint speed training website helping busy professionals crush their daily PowerPoint tasks and make it to Happy Hour. Prior to Nuts & Bolts, Taylor lived and worked in China for 10 years in finance and consulting. When he’s not busy crafting PowerPoint training, you can find him traveling the world and scuba diving.







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Michael B. Jordan Timeline

Michael B Jordan Timeline

This Saturday, talented actor Michael B. Jordan turns 32. Best known for his roles in Black Panther, Creed and Creed II, he also starred in 3 of the most acclaimed TV dramas of the past decade, namely The Wire, Friday Night Lights and Parenthood. Having started his acting career with performances in television productions at the early age of 12, he has now become one of Hollywood’s new leading men.

To wish a happy birthday to the one who aced the main antagonist part in 2018’s highest-grossing movie at domestic box office, we have created Michael B. Jordan’s timeline, which overviews his work and achievements as an actor.

Before embarking on his current profession, Jordan worked as a model for several companies and brands. In 1999, he made his debut on the screen with appearances in the TV series The Sopranos and Cosby. It was in 2013 that he played his first major leading role in Fruitvale Station, which brought him the National Board of Review award for breakthrough performance. Not only did this movie help the actor garner many accolades, but it also led to future collaborations with its director, Ryan Coogler, who cast Jordan in Creed and Creed II.

Now firmly set on Hollywood directors’ radar, Michael B. Jordan has already accepted a promising series of roles in films to be released in 2020. For his upcoming birthday, we wish that his middle name, Bakari, which means “of noble promise” in Swahili, will do justice to his acting future.

The Michael B. Jordan chronology was created with the intuitive PowerPoint add-in called Office Timeline. Using this tool, you can create stylish timelines and professional Gantt charts with only a few clicks. The slide is free to copy and share, and can be edited and updated with Office Timeline Plus.

Download the Michael B. Jordan Timeline for PowerPoint here.



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Top 10 Task Management Software Based on User Reviews


Best Task Management Software

Task management software has become a common “assistant” for project managers, helping them and their teams to properly plan and carry out their work, meet client requirements, and manage time, budget and risks. However, the variety of options available can leave one confused about where to begin, especially since many of these task manager apps are constantly expanding their range of functionalities.

To simplify the selection process, we've gathered 10 of the best task management tools in 2019 based on user reviews and ratings. These are:

1. TimeCamp

Average rating (Capterra, G2 Crowd, TrustRadius): 4.9/5

Encompassing features such as graphical timesheets, invoicing and reporting, or manual and automatic time tracking, TimeCamp is an intuitive task management software that integrates with platforms such as Harvest, Xero, and Trello.

The tool has a free version with limited features, as well as multiple paid plans that can cost between $63 and $75 per year depending on the package you choose.

Best Task Management Software

2. Office Timeline

Average rating (Capterra, TrustPilot): 4.55/5

Designed as an extension for Microsoft PowerPoint, Office Timeline is a lightweight task manager and project scheduler that automatically turns task and milestone data into easy-to-understand Gantt charts and timelines. Equipped with pre-formatted templates and task tracking features such as Percent Complete or Time Elapsed, the add-in also integrates with applications like Microsoft Project, Excel, Smartsheet and Wrike.

The PowerPoint task tracker comes in two versions, Free and Plus. While the free tool is fully functional, the Plus edition – which costs $59/year – unlocks more customization options and productivity features.

Office Timeline Customer Review

3. ActiveCollab

Average rating (Capterra, G2 Crowd, TrustRadius, TrustPilot): 4.42/5

A desktop and mobile task management app, ActiveCollab allows you to organize tasks based on their priority, generate a variety of reports, and create a collaborative work environment.

Users have access to a 14-day trial that enables them to get familiarized with the tool's interface and processes. Those who wish to purchase can choose between monthly billing ($7/month = $84/year) and annual billing ($75/year).

ActiveCollab Customer Review

4. Evernote Business

Average rating (Capterra, G2 Crowd, TrustRadius, TrustPilot): 4.41/5

Allowing users to create, edit, upload, and share documents, Evernote Business stores all relevant information in one place and promises to unify workflows across teams and departments. The Business plan is priced at $14.99 per month ($179.88/year), but users can test it for free for 30 days.

Evernote Business Customer review

5. Smartsheet

Average rating (Capterra, G2 Crowd, TrustRadius, TrustPilot): 4.24/5

Smartsheet is a work execution platform with a spreadsheet-like interface and real-time task management, collaboration and automation tools. Enabling you to view data in different formats ranging from card and Gantt to calendar and grid, Smartsheet can be used for sprint and waterfall projects, sprint planning and product roadmaps.

The online task manager comes with a free 30-day trial and several pricing plans, the standard Individual plan costing $14/month ($168/year).

Smartsheet Customer review

6. Intervals

Average rating (Capterra, G2 Crowd): 4.07/5

Intervals is a web-based task management app that combines comprehensive time tracking and reporting features with task management options such as fully integrated and interactive Gantt charts. Built for small businesses to create a collaborative framework, it is ideal for web developers, consultants, IT firms and communications companies.

Users can test Intervals free of charge for 21 days, and subscription prices range from $59 to $299 per month ($708 – $3,588 per year) depending on the plan chosen.

Intervals Customer Review

7. Wrike

Average rating (Capterra, G2 Crowd, TrustRadius, TrustPilot): 4.03/5

A cloud-based collaboration and task management software that offers enterprise-level security and scalability, Wrike is ideal for teams of more than 20 members. With features such as task assignment based on status, Gantt charts, workload view for resource management, custom dashboards and templates, as well as proofing tools, Wrike appeals to project managers and marketers alike.

Users can choose from several Wrike plans depending on the number of users and features required: Free (limited to 5 users and basic features), Professional, Business, Marketers and Enterprise. The featured Business plan costs $24.80/month ($297.6/year) and comes with a free trial as well.

Wrike Customer Review

8. Agile CRM

Average rating (Capterra, G2 Crowd, TrustRadius, TrustPilot): 4/5

Marketed as an all-in-one Marketing, Sales and Service automation platform, Agile CRM provides a drag-and-drop task management tool designed to simplify communication and task tracking between multiple teams or departments.

Prices start at $8.99/month ($107.88/year) and go up depending on the plan chosen. There's also a free task manager available, limited to 10 users and basic features.

Agile CRM Customer Review

9. Bitrix24

Average rating (Capterra, G2 Crowd, TrustRadius, TrustPilot): 3.3/5

Used by companies and small businesses as a team task management tool, Bitrix24 comes with a broad range of organizational features to enhance efficiency at the individual and group level. Among the most used ones are task templates and roles, Gantt charts, supervisor view, task delegation and time tracking.

Bitrix24 offers multiple pricing packages, depending on the number of users and amount of online storage required. The Free plan allows up to 12 users and offers 5 GB of storage, while the popular Standard plan (for 24 users and 24 GB of storage) starts at $35/month ($420/year), but will be discounted to $31/month ($372/year) if you choose to pay for two years in advance.

Bitrix24 Customer review

10. AceProject

Average rating (Capterra, G2 Crowd, TrustRadius): 3.56/5

AceProject is an online task management tool that offers time and cost tracking functionalities to help users manage projects from end to end and keep them on time and on budget. Its intuitive project dashboard gives you easy access to relevant data with color-coded graphs, and the Gantt chart feature lets you view the details and status of a certain project so you can make informed decisions.

AceProject comes with a free version, limited the amount of users, projects and storage available, as well as four paid plans that range between $24 and $199 per month ($288 - $2,388 per year).

AceProject Customer Review

Since task management software development seems to move towards simple web-based solutions, we have a bonus suggestion for you: a free visual task manager from Office Timeline made for the web. Relatively new on the market, the tool lets you make Gantt charts and timelines directly in your browser, update them easily using drag & drop, and download them as PowerPoint slides or .png images to present in meetings.

Of course, in the end, choosing a task management system comes down to the specific needs of each team, but we hope our suggestions will at least help you form an opinion about what tools and functionalities are most popular with professional users today.

If you consider that any other examples are worthy of being included in this list, please leave your suggestions in the comment section.


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

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Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart Timeline

Wolfgang-Amadeus Mozart Timeline

This Sunday marks 263 years since the birth of the prodigious and iconic composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Having created a massive body of 600 musical works in his 35 years of existence, he has influenced other maestros such as Tchaikovsky and Beethoven, and continues to be a source of inspiration to many, from film directors to computer scientists. Spanning every form and style of his time, Mozart's music has redefined numerous types of composition, from symphonies and chamber music for string quartets, to sonatas for the piano and church music. In trying to explain why the composer’s work was revolutionary, writer Arthur Miller said "Mozart is happiness before it has gotten defined."

To praise the undeniable and enduring legacy that the Austrian composer left to posterity, we have created the Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart Timeline, which overviews his life, including the premiere dates of his most important works.

Born as Johannes Chrysostomus Wolfgangus Theophilus Mozart in Salzburg, he displayed a prodigious talent at the early age of 4 when he learned how to play the keyboard, one year later already composing his own little musical pieces. This tremendous ability led to his father taking him in several European journeys to perform as a child prodigy. By the age of 20, when he was contracted as a musician at the Salzburg court, Mozart had already given countless acclaimed performances in Munich, Paris, London, The Hague, Milan and other cities.

Despite being employed as court musician in his hometown, young Mozart was discontent and hoped to find a position elsewhere, which determined him to resign in 1777 and venture to a series of cities in search of employment. Unfortunately, none of these attempts materialized into long-term commitments. In 1781, however, things would change for him when, after the successful premiere of his opera Idomeneo in Munich, he was summoned to Vienna. Settling in Europe’s then culture capital, he would establish himself as a virtuoso and reach the pinnacle of his creation, profoundly influencing the subsequent Western art music and earning the reputation of one of the greatest people of the millenium.

The Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart chronology was designed with Office Timeline, a simple yet efficient PowerPoint add-in that helps you create eye-catching timelines and Gantt charts with a few clicks. You can restyle and further edit the slide using Office Timeline Plus Edition.

Download the Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart Timeline for PowerPoint here.



Quickly turn project data into professional timelines

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

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happiness