Top free timeline templates for your business continuity planning

When a crisis or disaster threatens to flip your whole world upside down, it’s hard to know how to respond. Luckily, more and more organizations across the globe are discovering just how important it really is to have a business continuity management system that helps you adapt quickly and keep your business running in times of uncertainty.

If your organization doesn’t have any risk management or contingency plan, the good news is that it’s never too late to start. “Failing to plan is planning to fail,” Benjamin Franklin reportedly said, so any time is a good time to start planning your crisis response. On this page you’ll find guidelines, basic information, but also some useful resources and templates to help you build your organization’s resilience in the face of stress.

What is a business continuity plan and why you should have one

A business continuity plan is a document (or collection of documents) that explains what the organization and the employees are supposed to do in case of disruption. It identifies the major risks that can affect day-to-day operation and establishes clear procedures on how to keep the business running during an emergency – which can range from a global pandemic to more common incidents like flooding after a storm or an internet outage.

After being presented to upper management and other stakeholders to get their agreement, the business continuity plan is communicated to all the employees, but also regularly tested and improved. This continuous review process is part of what is called business continuity management system and, in case of emergency, it’s what makes the difference between a company’s survival and sudden death.

Every organization, big or small, public or private, should have at least a basic contingency plan. No company is completely safe from a disaster, so make sure you are always prepared. Business continuity planning is not a nice-to-have, it’s a must.

Benefits of including a timeline in your contingency plan

When it comes to presenting your business continuity plan to your executives, clients or team, efficiency is key. Nobody wants to be stuck in an endless meeting where you read off a bullet-heavy PowerPoint slide or browse dozens of pages. Time is essential, both in meetings and in disaster recovery. And when plans change, as they often do, you need a quick and easy way to update them.

That is why we recommend creating a timeline or Gantt chart for your presentation, to better illustrate the series of events and your planned response by minute, day or month. Here are three clear benefits of including a timeline when you present your business continuity plan to your stakeholders:

  1. Timelines – especially the ones that feature swimlanes – can effectively portray the different phases, tasks or milestones that make up a process. In the case of business continuity, it can show, on one slide, a snapshot of your plan, with just the right amount of detail.
  2. When you represent it visually, the information included on the timeline is better absorbed by the brain. You need all your stakeholders to understand and agree on the business continuity plan, and a timeline or Gantt chart can help you make your point clear.
  3. You can save hours of work preparing for your meeting, since you only need to create one good slide to present your plan. And if you use a timeline or Gantt chart template like the ones we’re about to show you, it will make your work significantly easier.

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Best PowerPoint timeline templates for business continuity management

Whether you want to create a timeline for your business continuity meeting or to review an incident with the upper management, using templates can give you a head start. So, we’ve made a list of the best PowerPoint templates for roadmaps and timelines to get your business continuity management system in shape:

  1. Business Continuity Plan
  2. Crisis Management Timeline
  3. Incident Response Timeline

1. Business Continuity Plan


  • Designed as a swimlane diagram that outlines the major components of a business continuity plan, from business impact analysis to disaster recovery.
  • It’s useful when you present your contingency plans to your stakeholders so they gain a better view of your risk management strategy.
  • This business continuity plan example is a PowerPoint file, so you easily include it as a slide in your presentation or save it as an image on your company portal.
  • You can download it for free and use the Office Timeline add-in to adjust the generic categories or include data that is specific to your organization.

Business Continuity Plan

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2. Crisis Management Timeline


  • Created to help you get over the initial panic (which is natural) and guide you on your road to resuming your business activity.
  • Covers the entire crisis management process, from when the crisis occurs to response, business continuity process, recovery, and review.
  • It’s an effective, free PowerPoint tool to help you prepare for any crisis, regardless of nature, industry, or duration.
  • The crisis management timeline was made with the Office Timeline PowerPoint add-in and it’s easy to customize it to suit your business, industry or include your branding styles.

Crisis Management Timeline

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3. Incident Response Timeline


  • Built on a shorter timeframe (hours and minutes) to give you an example of how to react fast when an incident occurs so you can limit outage.
  • It’s suitable for IT security incidents as both a planning and review tool, but also for other industries as well.
  • This is a free PowerPoint file, which means you can download and modify the data right away – either by moving the shapes on your slide or automatically with the Office Timeline add-in with just a few clicks.

Incident Response Timeline

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To sum up

Disruptions, disasters and emergencies are the type of challenges every organization needs to prepare for; it’s not a matter of “if” they’re going to happened, but more like “when”. And when they do, the companies that stand most chances of survival are the ones than quickly respond to rapidly-changing conditions.

These templates can help you face the unknown with a plan and support you in building up resilience. They were created with the Office Timeline PowerPoint add-in, a professional timeline maker that turns complicated data into clear, crisp visuals with just a few clicks.

You can download them for free and customize them using either the add-in’s free version (with certain limitations) or the more advanced Pro Edition, which gives you all the power you need to take your planning to the next level. If you’re looking for more templates, you can find dozens of other models in the template gallery, so you’ve got plenty of ideas to explore.



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3 Best Free Templates for Pharmaceutical Timelines

Medical treatments have evolved a great deal since the time of Hippocrates and Paracelsus. Leeches, bloodletting and potions have given way to an industry strictly controlled by regulatory bodies where only the safest and most effective solutions are accepted.

Breaking ground on a new drug or device takes years of testing and collating immense quantities of data from numerous sources. Not only is planning ahead more important than ever, but the manner of presenting the data to your stakeholders can help you secure that critical funding necessary to keep your projects on track.

Why is a Pharmaceutical timeline useful?

One of the best ways you can organize ideas, measure progress and ensure compliance with regulations is by creating a roadmap. Managed correctly, a timeline for your Pharma project can help you:

  • Evaluate the recruitment of patients for the clinical trials to ensure the proper amount of testing meets the prerequisites of regulatory bodies or if efforts in this direction must be intensified.
  • Determine if the results are on track according to the originally planned research phases of the project.
  • Check deadlines for industry-mandated certifications and patent renewals that allow the legal manufacturing and distribution of medical devices and drugs.

Therefore, given the benefits of using visual representations in the lab and the boardroom, it’s definitely a planning solution worth considering. Start organizing your development process with these powerful and easy to use visuals and you’ll soon see all the pieces of the puzzle falling into place.


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Top 3 Free Templates to make Pharma Timelines

In this post, we have assembled three free templates that can really make a difference for anyone conducting clinical research or managing development of pharmaceutical drugs or medical devices:

  1. Clinical Trial Roadmap
  2. Medical Devices Timeline
  3. Pharmaceutical Product Discovery Timeline

1. Clinical Trial Roadmap


  • Created for professionals who need to observe and present the three stages of clinical trials and important milestones associated with them in a clear and concise manner.
  • Using this diagram, project managers can more easily evaluate the progress of the trials and estimate the best time to apply for an NDA, as well as the date when the drug could become available for production and distribution.
  • The clinical trial roadmap was made in PowerPoint, which makes it easy to integrate in the next boardroom meeting with your stakeholders.
  • Download it free of charge and update the default information manually with data relevant to your specific product or use the Office Timeline PowerPoint add-in to considerably simplify this task.

Clinical Trial Roadmap

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2. Medical Devices Timeline


  • Made for pharmaceutical companies developing MDR and IVDR technologies that must respect the deadlines imposed by the EU Parliament.
  • Using the template allows keeping track of upcoming dates when changes to the business practices or the documentation of medical diagnostic and in-vitro diagnostic devices become mandatory.
  • The timeline was created in PowerPoint and supports the customization of dates formats and elements using the native controls.
  • You can download it free of charge and modify it with Office Timeline, and you can save it as a slide or an image format that can be shared in other documentation or meetings.

Medical Devices Timeline

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3. Pharmaceutical Product Discovery Timeline


  • Designed for manufacturing companies that handle end-to-end discovery, development, licensing and production of pharmaceutical drugs.
  • This template helps project managers in the Pharma industry to optimize the selection process for the most promising substances and to improve the rate at which brand new treatments hit the markets.
  • It is a free native PowerPoint template which means you can customize it easily and replace the default data with your own, either manually or with the Office Timeline add-in.

Pharmaceutical Product Discovery Timeline

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Summary

A graphical representation of your progress not only helps you figure out how efficient your current practices are, but also confers you a powerful tool to convey complex data in a simple and comprehensible manner to stakeholders without a technical background. In a highly competitive line of work, it is an edge to help fast-track your projects, so you can focus on making the world a healthier, safer place. These templates are built in Office Timeline, a powerful tool that integrates with the PowerPoint environment to generate stunning visuals at the touch of a button.

Download any of these templates now and edit them with the free version or take advantage of the Pro Edition’s extra features to really make your next project planning and presentation come to life. There are also numerous other templates we offer free of charge in our template gallery so the possibilities are endless.


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How to spend your day when you Work From Home

Among the numerous side effects of the coronavirus outbreak is a change in the way we work, with many of us being required to shift from an office setup to a work-from-home lifestyle. While some companies may use this state of affairs as an opportunity to start building a culture that nurtures more work flexibility, the regular nine-to-five workers might encounter difficulties in getting accustomed to the new circumstances.

Although the idea of remote work seems attractive (performing your tasks in a cozy makeshift quarantine bunker, sweatpants on), the lack of stimulation caused by human interactions can take a toll on our productivity and creativity. So, we created this blog post, which provides a series of recommendations on how to spend a day when working from home to get the best results; you’ll also find a practical work planner to help you transform them into a daily routine. Bonus: at the end, we’ve included insights from the leadership team at Office Timeline, who have been working from home for years and gained some valuable experience they’d like to share.


Tips and tricks for a more effective work-at-home day

1. Start early

Researchers have shown that our brains are most active and ready to get into gears right after we wake up. Furthermore, psychologist specializing in human motivation Rod Friedman argues that the first three hours of our day are the most valuable for maximized productivity. Hence, don’t snooze that alarm clock and don’t prolong your breakfast unnecessarily as that morning sluggishness will seep into your day. Instead, wake up first thing in the morning, put on that pot of coffee and dive into your to-do list (that you prepared the day before) as soon as possible so you can make the best out of those three golden hours. It will fuel your motivation and ensure a steady progress throughout the day.


2. Get prepped as if you’re going to the office

Since you’re working from home, you might be tempted to skip the showering-getting dressed routine (yes, we know, sweatpants are really comfortable). However, that precise routine helps make the transition from your pillow to your computer less jarring and puts you into a more energized state of mind. Plus, practicing this habit will make it easier for you when things return to normal (assuming that life will ever be the same after this lockdown). So, do all the things you would do to prepare for a day at the office because it activates a mental association with the idea of work and can make you more productive.


3. Schedule calls and meetings in the afternoon

Most of us are groggy in the morning and need a bit of time to adjust to the new day ahead. Having recommended that you get ready and started as early as you can, it only makes sense that you shouldn’t distract yourself from focused work with calls that might last longer than expected. So, start with the “solo” tasks in the morning and save the collaborative ones for later – when you’ve officially woken up, your voice is not croaky, and you’re all dressed up for “the official” meetings.


4. Create a work schedule to structure your day

Since we’ve suggested above that you group solitary tasks in the morning and the collaborative work for later, structuring your whole workday will provide further clarity and efficiency in managing your time. Creating a plan of what to do and when to do it over the course of your day will help you stay on track and keep focus. Use online calendars, personal reminders and events or a visual timeline to break up your work and pace yourself in cranking through it.

To help you get started, we’ve used the Office Timeline PowerPoint add-in to design a template for a Work from Home day planner that you can download for free. Seamlessly integrated into PowerPoint, Office Timeline is a lightweight yet powerful timeline maker which lets you easily generate and update accurate schedules. Choose from dozens of smart templates and use the tool’s various functionalities (timeband scale in hours and minutes, task duration, swimlanes) to create customized plans that you can update on the fly when things change. You can build your own work planner with the free version of the app, or explore the Pro edition to produce more complex visuals with swimlanes like this WFH daily schedule:

Work from Home daily schedule

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5. Plan your work around the times when you’re most productive

Speaking of well-defined work schedules, an important aspect to consider when planning your to-do list is your productivity pace. It’s natural for your motivation to fluctuate throughout the day, nobody can sprint through their tasks from morning to evening. Thus, pay attention to yourself and identify the ebb and flow of your efficiency so you can capitalize on it and better organize your work timeline around it. Keep the more difficult tasks for your productivity peak and use the slower moments of your day to take care of the easier ones.


6. Use a dedicated workspace

Just because you’re away from your regular office, it doesn’t mean you can’t have one at home. Instead of slouching on the couch or in your bedroom (spaces associated with leisure time), choose a specific area in your home to work. It will help your brain better demarcate the type of activity you carry out, and it’s also beneficial for your posture.


7. Minimize distractions

In most cases, social media is the main culprit that diverts attention from the task at hand. It’s designed to be easily accessed, but that quick browse might turn into half an hour (if not longer) of wandering aimlessly online. When working from home, in a relaxing environment, with no one watching, you might forget about duties and let yourself sucked in. To reduce this risk, log out from all your social media accounts and remove their shortcuts from your browser. Another option would be for you to work primarily in a private browser window. With no autofill convenience whenever you perform a web search, it’s less likely that you’d take social breaks too often.


8. Take clear breaks

To avoid getting distracted from what needs to be done, you might think that not taking breaks at all is a good idea. But just as it goes for working in an office, taking five to relax is recommended for remote workers as well. However, rather than spending those breaks in front of your laptop/PC, use this time to get away from your desk, stretch or have a quick talk with a close one.


9. Set a definitive finish time

While some might struggle to keep going through their to-do list, others might get immersed into their work so much as to lose track of time. At the office, your colleagues’ preparations to leave at the end of business hours remind you that it’s time for you to do the same, whereas at home there’s no such “trigger”. To avoid getting so caught up in your activities that you forget to “clock out”, set an alarm to mark the end of your business day. This way, you start saving your work and allow yourself to enjoy the evening. After all, you have a work-life balance to keep.


10. Plan out on what you’ll be working ahead of time

With your workday over, take a couple of minutes to plan the activities for the upcoming one(s). Of course, it’s possible for things to change, however having a general overview of what is next on your to-do list saves you time and effort in figuring out what you need to be doing in that future moment. Committing to an agenda that outlines your assignments before you begin will make it more “official” when you actually get started on it.


Insights from our CEO


Here at Office Timeline, we take working from home seriously – and we’ve been doing it for years. We work in distributed teams across the US and Europe and could recognize our voices even in a bar full of people playing beer pong. I'd be more than happy to share some of the lessons we’ve learned over the years, hoping you can avoid our mistakes:

  • Control your chattiness. Because you spend a lot of time with no one to talk to, that really makes you want to have an in-depth conversation with basically anyone: the delivery guy, the cashier at the store, the pharmacist. Observe this urge, contain yourself and let these poor people get on with their jobs.
  • Cover your webcam. It’s easy to forget you have an electronic eye that watches everything you do and everything you wear (or don’t), so do yourself a favor and put a piece of dark tape over it. Better safe than sorry.
  • Don’t eat into your microphone. We all get a little hungry sometimes, especially during the afternoons when most conference calls tend to happen. But nobody wants to hear you constantly snacking while they’re trying to have a conversation. It’s too distracting for them and probably not very healthy for you.
  • Get a pet to keep you company. If being alone is driving you crazy, consider adopting a pet; just make sure you understand this is a long-term commitment. Our team members have a variety of companions – mostly cats and dogs, but also fish, parrots or even squirrels – who are more than welcomed to join our team meetings.

Tim Stumbles

Tim Stumbles
CEO and Co-Founder
Office Timeline

Conclusion

How we spend our days is how we spend our life, it is said. During uncertain times that are marked by a sense of instability and chaos, adding structure to our workdays may seem insignificant, but it can actually go a long way. Working from home turns us into managers of our own time and, with a bit of discipline and a clear timeline of what needs to be done, we can make the most of it.



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How to update your project plan with Office Timeline

We know that even the most carefully laid out plans can change in the blink of an eye. Business dealings can fall through the roof, instrumental partners can drop out at the worst possible moment, and let’s not even talk about natural disasters or health crises.

It may sound difficult to emerge unscathed from such challenges, but it’s definitely not impossible; the key is adaptability. In the words of Charles Darwin, “It is not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive but those who can best manage change”.

Thankfully, Office Timeline has got you covered. Instead of spending hours every week on your visuals only to redo them again when the plans change, these features help you update your project timeline in minutes. We have compiled a list of the best ones for you below.



1. Importing data from other project management software

Do you normally use a PM tool like Excel, MS Project, Smartsheet or Wrike for tracking your project? The import feature allows you to bring in all the data and turn it into a smart and stylish visual with just a couple of clicks.

Transform even the most complex Microsoft Project plans into eloquent graphics that paint a comprehensive picture of the situation by importing directly into timeline templates. Here’s an example:

Import from MS Project

Perhaps you’re partial to Excel instead? No worries, this handy data table-making software from Microsoft is also on the list of supported integrations, as you can see here:

Import from Excel

The good news for Excel users is that you don’t even need to follow the import route. You can simply copy and paste the cells directly into Office Timeline and let our add-in do the work for you:

Copy and paste from Excel


Download the Office Timeline Pro free trial today and see for yourself just how easy it is to import data from PM tools like Excel, Project, Smartsheet or Wrike in a jiffy.

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2. Sync your data file to bring in your latest changes

Are you already taking advantage of the import features? Then allow us to show you how to go one step further: you can now sync Office Timeline graphs with any changes made to the source file. Basically, there’s no need to reimport the data for every little modification made.

Simply hit the Sync button afterwards and the interface will allow you to tick which ones to mirror on your Gantt chart or timeline. Here's how to update timelines in PowerPoint faster than you can say 'impending deadlines':

Sync with Excel


3. Use templates to get started quickly

When designing your own graphic, your first impulse would be to start from scratch: you’d have full control over the colors, style or size of the elements. However, this approach can take hours of work and unless you’re a designer, the results will probably not be exactly what you expected. So why not check out the custom-built templates we’ve created for almost any occasion?

Select new template

Once you have a starting point, you can continue to improve upon it as much as you like, with no limit but your imagination. You can even change the template if the original one doesn’t cut it, or in case you decide to go in a different direction.

Change template

Worked hard to tailor it with your company’s branding and color scheme? Then why not save this as a customized template and reuse it for further presentations down the line, instead of starting fresh every time? There’s really nothing to it!

Save timeline as a template


Try Office Timeline Pro for free for 14 days and check out the many templates that are built-in to make your work easier.

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Conclusion

As stressful as it can be, change also an integral part of the world around and the best thing we can do is be ready for it. With these features you don’t need to stress out about preparing for your next project update meeting.

See how much time you can save by taking advantage of a wide range of Office Timeline’s fully automated features designed to simplify your work without skimping on quality or aesthetics. Check out the free version of the tool or discover the Pro Edition to translate sophisticated project data into a visual form that comes to life before your eyes.



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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What to do when plans change


Change management

How to keep projects on track when plans change


Change is certain, progress is not. As an inevitable part of any process, change directly influences a project’s life cycle and chances of success. This is why project managers need to consider this factor as early as possible, so they know what to do when plans change and, thus, keep the project on track in spite of it. In other words - following the adage ”prevention is better than cure”, building a change control system in advance is the best way to handle the actual occurring modifications.

However, there are times when unprecedented or unpredictable circumstances interfere and might take even the most prepared PMs by surprise. Hence, we created this blog post to provide guidance on how you can establish a change management process (if your company doesn’t already have one) and take the best action to ensure project delivery.


Effective change control - steps to take when plans change


Change control is a formal process that provides a set of specified measures which project teams can use to adapt the scope of the project when modifications occur. Anything that would impact the development and quality of a project counts as an element of change (time, budget, workforce etc.).

With parameters varying from one project to another, it is natural that change management would require different courses of action specific to each case. However, a straightforward and efficient change control process typically includes the following steps:

  1. Defining the change request
  2. Assessing the change request
  3. Proposing recommended ways to proceed
  4. Final decision – the approval or declination of the request

1. Defining the change request

A change request is the documentation used to solicit an alteration and can be as simple as an email or as complex as a formal document. The one who initiates the actual request needs to explain it so that all parties involved understand it well enough to define it. Here are the supporting elements of a change request:

  • Actual request – a statement of the need that clearly outlines the change item for the project team to analyze;
  • Reason for the request - the customer and business impact caused if the request is not accepted or completed;
  • Conditions of success - the effects and results expected from the change request;
  • Expected completion – an expected due date for the item, provided by the requester not as an ultimate deadline, but as a reference point for the project team to consider when defining options;
  • Expected value – the explanation for why the request is necessary.

2. Assessing the change request

Once the request is documented, it is then submitted to the project team for review. The submittal can be done either informally (through email) or formally (memo or meeting). The former method is usually employed for simple requests, whereas the latter provides the proper context for complex requests to be reviewed, questions to be asked and decisions to be facilitated.

This step actually involves two phases:

  • the clear presentation of the request with a focus on project budget regarding materials, any relevant permit requirements, man-hours, time lost/gained; during this meeting the expected turnaround time should also be discussed and set.
  • the project team’s review followed by discussions and feedback on the request.

3. Proposing recommended ways to proceed

The next step requires project teams to define at least two viable options based on the reviewed change request and create a response document. The document goes to the client, along with the data points below:

  • Option number and name
  • Proposed solution - suggesting how to respond to the change request; it can vary from a technical direction to the justification why this approach is put forward
  • Proposed timeline - the sequence of events and their estimated duration throughout the change process; it helps the customer leverage when deciding which of the options presented by the team is optimal.
  • Impacts to the project – an essential part of the response document, it explains the costs, the impact on the timeline and resources, and potential quality results. Does the team have to get additional people? Do the existing resources need to add or remove time on the project? All of these aspects should be outlined clearly so that the customer can make an informed decision.
  • Expiration date for proposed changes – setting a timeframe for the client to respond to the options presented. This helps create urgency in the process.

4. Final decision – the shareholders’ approval or declination of the request

The shareholders provide feedback on the submitted change control response document. Depending on whether the shareholders’ decision has been a timely or a delayed one, the following scenarios can result:

  • Timely feedback (observing the timeframe specified in the Change Control Response document) – the shareholders communicate which of the suggested options is optimal and its implementation begins, with the right teams being delegated to carry out the corresponding tasks. If none of the recommendations are found viable, the whole process restarts.
  • Delayed feedback (exceeding the specified timeframe) – the project team re-evaluates the initial plan to determine if too much development has occurred to support the recommendations, or if the delay has caused any other impacts. Based on the findings, the Change Control Response document is updated or even redone (all of the above steps are replicated with new proposals).

No matter which of the two cases above applies, the final decision needs to be unanimously approved so that an official change management process be instated and endorsed along the way.

Supporting tools and components for enabling change control processes

To ensure the consistent and effective management of change and expectations, a project manager often relies on supporting activities and tools. Given the variety of existing businesses and projects, it’s only natural that a diverse range of structures and frameworks be developed for this purpose.

However, some of the most suitable ones in this respect are:

  • Product or business roadmaps
  • Readiness assessments
  • Continuous improvement plans
  • Business cases
  • Training tutorials
  • Measurement and analytics reports

Choosing the right change management tool makes this process easier and more streamlined. So, when researching which of the available ones is best, you should make sure it will allow you to:

  • Create a clear timeline of what needs to be done, when and by whom
  • Update the existing workflow with new data in real time when necessary
  • Show duration of tasks and track their progress
  • Customize the plan to reflect the specifics of your project
  • Easily share and communicate the established agenda

Conclusion

During times of change, swift adaptation to the evolving context and clear communication of the measures required to sustain re-adjustment and progress become key. An effective change control process in place and a tool that saves you time, allows you to document the steps along the way and quickly update changing plans will make this possible.

Natively built in PowerPoint, the Office Timeline add-in is a simple-to-use yet powerful project management tool which lets you automatically transform complex data into presentation-ready timelines and roadmaps. Use its varied gallery of templates and customizing functionalities to create clear yet content-rich visuals, and its intuitive interface to update them when plans change. Try out its free version to experience the easiness with which timelines come to life, or discover the Pro Edition, which unlocks extra features for more sophisticated results.



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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