How to prepare your Thanksgiving dinner like a Project Manager

Thanksgiving is the perfect time of year for all generations of our family to come together in celebration and share the things we’re grateful for. Boomers, millennials or gen-Z, we all put their differences aside for a brief, shining moment to pass the gravy of kindness and carve the turkey of tolerance.

Naturally, the catalyst here is the lovely Thanksgiving dinner we’re gathered around. So, how can you make sure everything runs smoother than the 15-year-old brandy you're waiting to share with your uncle in the study, later that evening?

We all know how stressful the planning of this event can get and how important it is that every little detail is absolutely perfect, from the roasted turkey right down to the heirloom silverware. As such, let us come to your aid with two Thanksgiving preparation timelines. We guarantee that your guests will get up from the dinner table feeling like a stuffed turkey and will have ‘pumpkin’ to talk about for months! Feast mode, activate!

Start early to get a (turkey) leg up on the competition!

Last-minute Thanksgiving preparations will leave you spread thinner than the pumpkin pie dough. Don’t wait until the stores are jam-packed with revelers battling over the last frozen turkey. There’s plenty you can do ahead of time, and you’ll be glad you checked them off the list down the road. Have a look at this Thanksgiving preparation timeline and start planning like a pro:

Thanksgiving preparation timeline

The ‘baste’ day of the year!

Come Thanksgiving morning, you’re probably scrambling to get everything ready in the most efficient manner possible. The trick here is to make the best use of what would normally be downtime, waiting for your dishes to bake or roast. While the key to a successful Thanksgiving dinner is the tur-key, there’s no reason to gobble aimlessly while it’s in the oven. Check out our Thanksgiving dinner timeline and don’t be afraid to delegate some responsibilities, so you can be there for the traditional snapping of the wishbone instead of still slaving away over the hot stove!

Thanksgiving dinner timeline

The Thanksgiving preparation timelines were created using Office Timeline, a simple yet powerful project management solution that allows you to generate attractive visual representations of data within minutes.

Give the free version a try here or check out the Pro version, which comes with additional features that are better suited for more complex roadmap applications. You can download the Thanksgiving preparation timelines as a PowerPoint file and you can even tailor a new schedule, based on your own favorite dishes! Happy Thanksgiving!



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Halloween scary PowerPoint timeline template

Halloween timeline template

If you work in a business environment, you must have heard (or lived) quite a few office horror stories over the years. Whether it’s a typo that turned your email into a not-safe-for-work proposition, a computer crashing in the middle of a video conference, a false step while holding a full cup of hot coffee - we’ve all had our share of office blunders that keep us up all night shivering and staring wide-eyed into the dark while mumbling “oh… my… god…”.

What doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger, as the philosopher said. This Halloween we’ve decided to face our demons head-on, so we’ve created a spooky timeline template to help you startle your audience and give that otherwise boring project review meeting a quick scare.

The Halloween timeline template was built using the Office Timeline add-in for PowerPoint, the only timeline and Gantt chart maker that turns complicated project data into clear, simple graphics with just a few clicks. Icons made by Freepik from www.flaticon.com. Party vector created by Freepik.

Download the Halloween PPT template and start making a presentation to die for!

Your turn now. What’s the scariest office horror story you’ve ever heard? Unearth it and share it in the comments.


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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How to cut the time spent reviewing projects by half [Case study]

Aptos Case Study

Reporting in the business world has the primary role of keeping your stakeholders well informed about the ongoing operations. By tracking the critical key performance indicators (KPIs), you can evaluate the effectiveness of current strategies and take course-correcting decisions to mitigate the negative impact before it’s too late. But what if you don't have a centralized format for reporting project status? Read on to find out how a retail solutions provider solved this problem and drastically reduced the time spent in project review meetings.

Challenges of reporting in the absence of centralization

Reports come with several intrinsic problems that are in direct correlation with the size of the company and the complexity of the work. For instance, in non-centralized reporting environments, the organization relies heavily on a handful of star employees, rather than leveraging the full potential of the entire team; centralization lowers this dependency.

Being able to track and report the progress of an operation accelerates the integration of junior staff members within ongoing projects and makes optimal use of available resources. Other challenges that can be overcome by switching to a unified reporting model might include:

  • Lack of understanding regarding the current project status
  • Inconsistent interdepartmental communication
  • Limited awareness about key performance metrics and their impact
  • Very few means to accurately benchmark performance
  • Inability to determine and reproduce the most effective solutions
  • A lot of time spent collating and interpreting the data

Another caveat, according to a study made by EY Global, is that well over two-thirds of CFOs consider the growing volume of data collected nowadays has a negative effect on the relevancy of the insight obtained. In other words, being bombarded with a flood of unstructured information can, in fact, be counterproductive for decision making. As such, the requirement for a centralized reporting strategy is crucial to the success of your business.

Case study: how Aptos standardized their project reviews

To better understand the impact, let’s examine how report standardization helped Aptos, a company specialized in the development and integration of cloud-based solutions for the retail world. A quick look over their client list reveals major players from various industries, including but not limited to J.C. Penney’s, CVS and Bed Bath & Beyond, but also niche brands like Michael Kors, Movado and Tommy Bahama.

Peter Taylor, the Head of Global PMO for the company, was on the lookout for a centralized reporting tool, one that could build standardized Gantt chart-like reports in a consistent and easy to update format. His main concern was to eliminate from the equation reports that were clunky and difficult to read, by providing Project Managers with a one-size-fits-all solution.

The answer came from one of their project admins, who discovered Office Timeline, a PowerPoint add-in that creates professional-looking project visuals in seconds. Because it’s such a straightforward application, implementing it in her daily reporting process was a breeze. Soon, other employees in that branch started using it as well, and news reached the head office.

Rolling out Office Timeline as a standardized reporting solution was seamless, and it wasn’t long before the benefits became noticeable. In short, the company reported that project reviewing time was effectively sliced by half and the reporting procedures were simplified a great deal.

To put that into perspective, prior to integrating Office Timeline, there were four weekly calls (1.5 hours each) just for reviewing project progress with the PMs. After the implementation, everything is handled in just two meetings. The PMs are now free to put more time into working closely with the clients and developing better solutions to answer to their needs.

Read the full case study

5 tips & tricks to help you address your reporting challenges

Selecting a suitable reporting tool is just the first step towards optimizing the process of reporting, albeit a critical one. In order to really make the most of it, we’ve selected a couple of tips to help you get started:

1. Setting strategic goals

Diana Scharf-Hunt, the author of several best sellers on time management techniques, once noted that "Goals are dreams with a deadline", and deadlines are an excellent reminder to always keep the endgame in mind. Defining what a successfully-achieved objective looks like allows you to reverse engineer the KPIs and divide it into 3-4 subordinate goals, as well as splitting the tasks accordingly.

2. Selecting the correct KPIs to track (according to the audience)

Don’t put all your KPIs in one basket, conventional wisdom teaches us. To capture the attention of your viewers, a good place to start is to ask yourself who the audience is. For instance, a Marketing manager will be interested in a completely different set of data than the team leader of the Sales department. Filter the KPIs in your report accordingly and deliver each bit of information to the correct recipient.

3. Transforming data into a storyline

According to modern adult learning theories, the human mind can absorb data much easier when it is structured in the form of a linear story. Hard data featuring numbers and percentages must, therefore, be outlined in the context of a narrative. One way to achieve this is by creating timelines that display historical progress. Bonus: Place the KPIs on the roadmap and contrast them against past values to create trend predictions.

4. Creating clear and visually appealing graphical representations

Still on the subject of how our brain processes and interprets data, there’s a limit to how much information you can feed the audience before they feel overwhelmed. As a result, this translates into decision fatigue, the inability to make high-quality choices. In reporting, the rule of thumb should always be ‘’less is more”, especially in terms of selecting the KPIs to present. When you’re creating graphs, place the emphasis on an average of 3 major KPIs. If others must be included, make sure they don't share the same spotlight.

5. Shifting from paper to digital

Paperback reports may have been all the rage in the past, but the advent of technology allows us to move past the outdated model and towards the digital age. Significantly easier to compile and update, reporting software can help you create clear, simple, professional-looking charts and graphs. At the same time, some solutions integrate collaborative features. These allow other teams to offer their input, based on which management can reach accurate conclusions and take grade-A business decisions.

Conclusions

In the words of Henry Ford, "Most people spend more time and energy going around problems than in trying to solve them". Improving the way reporting is conducted in your organization will have a major impact on how resources (time, funds, employees, etc.) are allocated and, in turn, productivity will grow. Centralized reports guarantee that all stakeholders have access to the information they need when they need it, and all business decisions are made based on real data.


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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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Christopher Columbus Timeline

Christopher Columbus Timeline of life and America discovery


Christopher Columbus is certainly a very controversial historical figure, and the crashing waves this dispute unleashes are tall enough to capsize the Santa Maria and the rest of the Spanish Armada in one swoop. He is praised by some as a daring Genoan explorer, without whom it may have taken a few hundred years longer for the world to be fully charted. On the other hand, there are others who contest Columbus' merits and vilify him as a brutal invader who took advantage of the indigenes' naivete, forcing them into slavery and decimating the local population.
However, one thing is certain: the voyage he set out on in 1492 with the blessings - and gold - of the King and Queen of Spain would not only alter the course of history but cartography as well. Let's embark on a journey through some of the most important moments in the life of the man who bridged the old world and the new one.

Columbus Day celebrations around the globe

To acknowledge his achievements, the United States celebrates Columbus Day on October 12. On this day back in 1492 Columbus dropped anchor in the Bahamas, while en route to what he believed were the Indies.
Not all countries are so eager to honor the arguably the most famous navigator in the world though. In Venezuela, for instance, October 12 marks the celebration of 'Día de la Resistencia Indigena', which translates to 'The Day of the Indigenous Resistance', commemorating the locals' fight against the invasion of the Conquistadors; a fairly recent event, it began in 2004, when a century-old statue of the Italian navigator was torn down.
Other Latin American nations have different names for it, like Argentina's 'Day of Respect for Cultural Diversity', Uruguay's 'Day of the Americas', Peru's 'Day of the Discovery of America' or Colombia's 'Day of the Races'. 

Was Columbus the first explorer to drop anchor on the American continent?

As it turns out, not exactly. Christopher Columbus did plant Spain's 'Castile and Leon' flag on American soil, no argument here. Nonetheless, the first footprints on the shore are said to belong to Leif Eriksson, a Norse explorer from Iceland. Historical records suggest that on the return journey to Greenland, Eriksson strayed from the charted path and the winds guided his ship to a region in North America, which he dubbed 'Vinland'. This story is not without controversy either, as some accounts like the 'Groenlendinga Saga' place a trader by the name of Bjarni Herjulfsson in the area 14 years ahead of Eriksson. What's more, according to saga, Leif Eriksson did not come to the new world due to a course-plotting error. Instead, he learned about Vinland from Herjulfsson and decided to check it out for himself. Whoever was first, Columbus' expedition paved the way for European powers to colonize the new continent and gain access to its abundance of resources.

The new world or the old one?

It might sound strange, but our expert navigator never really accepted the fact that his journeys didn't take him to an undiscovered part of the Indies and that he had, in fact, found a completely new and uncharted landmass. His journal entries show us that he refused to budge, even in the face of overwhelming evidence, and continued to believe he was really close to the East Indies. The confusion likely comes from a miscalculation he made when estimating the Earth's size.

The exploits of Christopher Columbus were mapped out chronologically using Office Timeline, a professional and easy to use Gantt chart maker that can quickly generate a beautiful graphic representation for your project's stages within minutes. You can try it out in the free version, but access to the more complex features such as 'Swimlanes' is only available in the Pro edition. Download the Christopher Columbus timeline as a .PPT file and have fun moving the elements around, using either our add-in or the native PowerPoint controls.


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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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Easily Share and Collaborate on a Timeline


Share and collaborate Office Timeline


Managing a project, big or small, requires effective team coordination and constant communication with management and clients. That usually means a lot of planning, tracking, sharing, aligning, updating, presenting, updating again, and sharing again. 

What you need is a simple collaborative tool to help you build presentation-ready timelines and Gantt charts, manage them together with your colleagues, and share them with anyone without too much fuss. With the sharing and collaboration tools available in Office Timeline Online, you can streamline planning, delegate tasks, align teams, and clue in stakeholders fast and easily.

Share and collaborate on timelines with anyone

Office Timeline Online lets you share a timeline in different ways depending on who you are working with and what your intention is. It is simple and intuitive.


  • Do you want your team members to collaborate on a timeline with you? Invite them as collaborators and choose whether you allow them to edit your plan and share it further or not. You can add or remove collaborators or change their permissions at any time, at the click of a button.

  • Invite collaborators to your timeline

  • Do you want to delegate work and easily show everyone who's doing what? Assign tasks or milestones to team members, and they'll be notified via email and inside the web app about their responsibilities. They'll also be able to see the full timeline, so they'll always know how their work fits into the big picture.

  • Assign tasks in Office Timeline Online

  • Do you need a quick and easy way to share your updated plan with execs or clients? It takes a second to create a shareable, view-only link to your timeline and send it to them. Because we know they're busy, we made it so that they can access it instantly, without having to create an account or log in to Office Timeline Online.

  • Create shareable link to your timeline

To find out more about collaborating in Office Timeline Online, please see our detailed how-to guide here.

Ready to share and collaborate? Log in to the web app now and try out for yourself!