Project Timelines Communicate for Instructional Designers

A friend of mine is an instructional designer at an international financial institution. When new or updated courses for their 50,000 employees are conceived, the rollout date becomes one of the most important items to be managed.  Due to financial legislation, each course must be scrutinized and signed-off by each department’s project manager. I often heard tales of trying to coordinate the various sign-offs using an analogy involving kittens.

A delayed roll-out date would have an impact on employee training schedules worldwide. A delay of one day on receiving expected reviews and validations can cause havoc with the schedule.  Beyond emails, instant messages, and frantic phone calls, there has been no easy or effective way to effectively communicate the need to meet expectations to the department project managers.  All-hands-on-deck fire drills were not infrequent. Their project management system will not interface with PowerPoint and so there has not been a good way to illustrate the project timeline during status meetings.

PowerPoint is the standard for creating powerful, effective, and memorable presentations. The challenge for instructional designers is that PowerPoint is a blank slate and there is no simple way to create insightful timeline or Gantt chart presentations. I recently mentioned Office Timeline to my friend and it has solved the problem.

Office Timeline is a plug-in embedded into the PowerPoint ribbon, so using it to create, manage and present compelling project timelines or Gantt charts is intuitive and quick.  It starts with a simple wizard for entering importing tasks and milestones directly from an Excel spreadsheet. At a touch, these tables are turned into a beautifully laid out timeline slide in PowerPoint. PowerPoint Templates and Themes provide the powerful tools to control and format the timeline or Gantt chart so presenters can test various ways to emphasize key events.  With Office Timeline, instructional designers who are managing projects can develop presentations on project proposals or status reports in just minutes – making updates a minor task – not a major interruption.

As an Instructional Designer for over 20 years, she mentioned that it is always difficult to communicate the critical need for prompt validation responses to ensure an on-time roll-out. Further, it used to be difficult just to create a single timeline slide or Gantt chart illustrating these few vital steps in the months-long development cycle.

“There’s no better way than a picture to show the project managers how important this is. They’re the ones who need to ensure the deadlines are met.”  After trying Office Timeline, I asked what she thought; “It took just a minute to look it over. I watched the tutorial. Then I used the spreadsheets from our last project. Copy, paste, and voila’ – I had an effective management-level slide. What’s better is that I didn’t have to take up valuable Instructional Designer time to get this great slide. That particular timeline was really effective for displaying the critical project steps. I think our project managers understand this timing issue now. Office Timeline has helped remove a major tension point. ”

Download Office Timeline Free Edition

Suggested Reading

Steps for making a timeline
Tutorial for making a Gantt chart with Excel
Exceptional PowerPoint Add-ons


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.

GET FREE TRIAL

Make IT Project Timelines in PowerPoint

I chatted with an IT Pro about his use of our PowerPoint timeline maker for presenting project timelines and IT plans to his team and clients.  He said that creating and presenting timelines of his IT projects was critical in how he communicates his work.

IT Pros want an easier way to make project timelines, implementation plans and project proposals in PowerPoint.  Additionally, since IT projects change often IT Pros also want an easy way to update and quickly  share their project timelines with their team customers and management.

IT Projects Gantt Chart made with timeline maker in PowerPoint

Click to see a larger image of this PowerPoint slide

Office Timeline is a free timeline maker add-in for Microsoft PowerPoint 2007, 2010, 2013 that quickly makes slides and gantt charts of IT projects. Using it to create, manage and share IT projects as PowerPoint slides is simple.  From within PowerPoint the timeline maker uses a intuitive wizard (shown below) for entering the key tasks and milestones of your IT Projects, or you can paste those directly from Excel (requires Plus edition). Data is automatically turned into a beautifully laid out timeline slide, which is easy to edit so IT Pros can quickly update teams on changes to their project plans.

Here’s how to make PowerPoint slides of your IT Project.

Download and try the free version of Office Timeline for PowerPoint.  Once installed it will add an Office Timeline tab (see image below) to your PowerPoint ribbon. To create a slide of your IT Project, follow these steps below.

1 – Click New to launch the Office Timeline wizard which will guide you through a couple easy set-up and design steps.Quickly make IT project plans and timelines in PowerPoint

2 – Select the type of slide you want to build from pre-designed templates, then click the Next arrow to begin entering the data. Or browse the free template collection for additional Project templates.

Free PowerPoint timeline maker add-In for making IT project slides

3 – Enter the key Milestones and Tasks of your IT projects.  Make some optional style choices such as the color and shape for each item then click on the Next arrow.Free timeline maker add-in for PowerPoint

Finished.  Click the green Check Box and Office Timeline will build your IT project timeline slide or Gantt chart.  Since the timeline maker builds project plans as native PowerPoint slides IT Pros can easily update and share them.  To do that just return to the slide and open Office Timeline’s wizard from the tab in PowerPoint to change or redesign your IT project plan.  See

Communicating Project Status with PowerPoint 

The IT Pro I met with said his management and customers prefer to do IT project cycle management reviews in PowerPoint rather than trying to follow detailed project schedules from MS Project and other project cycle management tools.  He complained that heavy-weight project tools produce visualizations which are often too complicated for client and executive presentations (see Gantt Charts in PowerPoint).   He said Office Timeline was light-weight and easy for him to use.

The video below shows how to easily update your project slide instantly.

Using a PowerPoint timeline maker is a good option for IT Pros who need a quick project cycle management tool to present their IT projects, plans, proposals and status reports to their teams, customers and managers.  Learn more or download from here:

Download Office Timeline Free Edition

Suggested Reading
Tutorial for making a Gantt chart with Excel
Simplifying Gantts for important presentations
Exceptional PowerPoint Add-Ons


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.

GET FREE TRIAL

Building Historical Timelines

To build a historical timeline slide in PowerPoint with Office Timeline Free or Plus Edition  use the historical date feature.  It enables you to enter AD dates that precede January, 1, 1753 in the Gregorian calendar. You can enable the historical date feature by right clicking in any date cell in the Milestone or Task Wizard (see  below).  From there you can enter historical dates back to year January 1, 0001.

If you are using the Plus version for building historical timeline where the year is relevant and the month and day may not be (as shown below), use the Milestone or Task Date Format button on the ribbon and set the date format to YYYY.   Also to vertically re-position your Milestones higher and create connectors, so their text does not overlap (4 examples below), please see How To Re-position Crowded Milestones

History template

Browse the free timeline template collection for more examples or free downloadable templates.


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.

GET FREE TRIAL

Timeline Templates for Teachers

I got an email from an industrious kid.  He was a high school student preparing a history project (building a historical timeline) and he wrote to us asking if we would give him and his classmates the premium edition of our timeline maker software.  Good for him.  He said they were struggling to build timeline templates because his school’s Gantt chart tool was “complicated and ugly.”  I wrote to him and he responded that they needed something that was more graphical, template driven, easier to use and something that could be presented in a simple way.  It got me thinking of the value of timeline makers and timeline templates as education tools.Timeline Template History

I was interested because I had just recently done bit of family history homework on a timeline.  My family seems to have moved around over the past couple centuries, and there were some diligent family historians recording this along the way.  So I had a pretty good log of when and where my ancestors were.  I turned this information into a timeline and found it to be a really cool visual tool for understanding my origins.  Plotting my ancestor’s history in timeline maker had me simultaneously thinking about the events and circumstances of their day.  So then I plotted the significant historical events of the time on top of my family’s timeline template, and that was very educational.

Correlating the major historical events with my ancestor’s timeline made learning history personal.  I spent time researching each event as I was entering it into the timeline maker.  The tool rendered all of this into a beautiful, visual PowerPoint slide, which I shared with my siblings, cousins and parents.  They loved it because it was very visual, therefore easy for them to consume and digest.  I think the high school kid got this (smart kid) and that is why he wanted our timeline maker.

Since my experience of learning was richer with a graphical timeline maker, I assumed I would see plenty of educators in our database.   I ran some queries to check this and can confirm there has been considerable use of Office Timeline by educators, academics and historians.  Much like my experience and the high school kid’s, these folks also understand that engaging their audiences in a visual way creates a more effective learning environment. (Side note: We get frequent comments on the historical date feature in our timeline maker – see the Building Historical Timelines post).

There also has been significant usage by students.  I corresponded with a few of them and it turns out they are using it to make timeline templates across every subject imaginable.  For example political science timelines, historical timelines, science project timelines, one on the history of manuscripts, one on reducing lighting consumption of a corridor, financial forecasting timelines, and even a timeline template that plotted the important milestones of a multi-national corporation.

The net is that graphical timeline slides can be an interesting way to supplement learning and a timeline maker or timeline templates can be powerful teaching tools.

Office Timeline is a free timeline maker add-in for PowerPoint.

Once installed, students and teachers use intuitive wizards to easily create timelines or curriculum plans in a few simple steps.  First select the type of timeline style or template you want to build.

PowerPoint template tool from timeline maker Office Timline

Next enter data, make a few style choices on shapes and colors and then click the Green Check button when done.  Your timeline is instantly built in PowerPoint and it can be shared with and edited by any PowerPoint user or pasted as a image in documents, on websites or other materials.  Also your timeline can easily be changed, updated, or edited automatically at any time.

Free PowerPoint add-in for teaching history and curriculum planning

The short video below shows how it works and you can download Office Timeline Free edition from www.OfficeTimeline.com


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.

GET FREE TRIAL

Re-position Project Milestones To Create Space

Complex projects have many milestones which can overlap with neighboring milestones when placed on a timeline.  With Diamond or Triangle milestones markers, the text for each milestone can overlap each other as shown below.  Re-positioning your milestones can help with spacing, allowing you to fit more milestones onto your slide, without having to abbreviate the text description for each.

With Office Timeline Plus edition you can manually position the text and date box of each milestone, and create a connector to it.  This can be done for milestones that are positioned above or below the time band. To do this click on the text box of the milestone you want to re-position and drag it vertically up or down to the new position. Once in the desired new position, click the Accept button on the tool bar which will create a connector to your newly positioned milestone.


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.

GET FREE TRIAL