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Using a project management timeline template to illustrate a project’s critical activities, deadlines and progress helps project planners to kickstart their initiatives and improve the way they coordinate the involved teams and required efforts. Being a project manager means crafting numerous important documents for planning, scheduling, reviewing, and communicating tasks, specifications, deliverables and much more. Creating all this documentation from scratch is time-consuming, which makes project timeline templates an essential resource for making the best of one’s time.
To help you organize your work better, we’ve compiled here a series of must-know facts about project management timelines, accompanied by a professionally-designed template that can be easily customized into a well-integrated project plan.
Managing a project becomes easier when you rely on a timeline instead of a spreadsheet or basic to-do list. A project management timeline helps you clearly view how all the pieces fit together so here is the step-by-step process of creating an effective one:
A project timeline template is a pre-built bar chart to which you can add your own project data to create a customized visual. Saving you the time and effort of starting from scratch, project timeline templates improve efficiency and also bring standardization to your project management process.
Effectively visualize and monitor your next initiative with our project management template that you can download for free and customize with just a few clicks.
Project managers need a plan overview that they can share with team, partners, and stakeholders. The project management template was created to help managers plan and communicate their projects broadly. It will illustrate the critical tasks and milestones, and how much the project has progressed.
Project management templates help project managers to communicate with clear visuals that are not complicated or difficult. They are designed so important audiences can quickly understand the major deliverables of the project and see the progress of the plan at a glance. This project management timeline template is a PowerPoint download that can easily be edited and used for newsletters, documents, proposals, project reviews or scorecards. Project management teams that use PowerPoint can collaborate on the template and quickly share their slides with customers, partners, and management.
The timeline template can be manually changed in PowerPoint or you can use Office Timeline’s free project management tool to instantly update it and automatically adjust it as your project schedules change. The project management timeline tool was created as a PowerPoint plug-in so project managers can easily make timelines and Gantt charts right from inside the familiar application.
The tool is useful for updating the slide quickly without having to rebuild it. If dates for milestones and tasks slip or when they have been completed, you can immediately update the project management template. You can also show progress with the percent complete or Today’s Date feature. Office Timeline Pro+ Edition is integrated with project management applications such as Microsoft Project or Excel, so any project data you have previously created can automatically be transformed into a project management slide like this template.
With the Office Timeline project management tool for Microsoft PowerPoint, project excellence has never been easier. The app will help you update and revise this project management template automatically, or you can use it to make new project management slides as quickly as your managers and customers need them.
Explore this comprehensive list of questions and answers about timeline templates in project management.
In the context of PM, timelines are chronological lists of tasks to be completed and milestones to be reached within the scope of the project. This type of visuals is perfect for projects with multiple interdependent moving parts, as they effortlessly show the teams that are handling specific activities, which tasks must be completed and in what order, the phase of the project and the time available to produce deliverables. We recommend following this process when you sit down to write a timeline for your next project:
Start with a project scope statement that defines deliverables and resources.
Using milestones, split your project into smaller, more manageable phases.
Based on the project scope statement, create time estimates for each of the tasks involved.
Consult with the participants and/or teams handling the project and assign the tasks.
Use a timeline maker to create a visual representation of the project.
To create an Excel project management timeline, follow the steps below:
Click on the Insert tab of the Microsoft Excel’s ribbon.
Go to Insert a SmartArt Graphic and select the Process option.
Find the Basic Timeline chart type and click on it.
Edit the text within the text pane to illustrate your project data.
For a detailed demonstration of the process, check out our tutorial on how to make a timeline in Excel.
PowerPoint features a set of relatively basic graphic styles under the SmartArt ribbon tab that users can employ to create a project timeline. However, the more complex your project is, the more difficult and time consuming this task is. Even when you’re not dealing with an intricate plan, manually creating and updating a timeline with the tools available in PowerPoint is still tricky and a lengthy process, at best. To find out more, check out our detailed guide on how to make timelines in PowerPoint manually.
A better alternative - especially when your day-to-day work involves frequent planning and presentations - would be to use a dedicated timeline maker such as Office Timeline, which also comes with a free version.
Copying the Gantt chart you’ve just created in MS Project into PowerPoint can be done using just the tools available in the two Microsoft Office programs, but there’s a catch: you can only export your graphic as a static, un-editable image. While there might be interface differences between different versions of MS Office, your steps should be as follows:
Under the View tab in MS Project, visit the Data section and select the tasks you wish to import via the Filter category.
Via the Task tab, click the Copy Picture option.
Tick the “For screen” option and then copy Selected Rows.
Set the timescale to “As shown on screen”.
Switch to PowerPoint and paste the Gantt chart.
Now, if you’re looking for a better way to go about it, dedicated project timeline and Gantt chart makers like Office Timeline allow you to easily import the MS Project data and create a fully customizable graphic directly in PowerPoint! Check out our guide to learn more about how to turn your MS Project data into a PowerPoint timeline.
You can create a project timeline using either programs in the Microsoft Office suite (as well as their Google counterparts) or a dedicated timeline maker such as Office Timeline. However, the main disadvantage of the former option is the lack of preexisting templates. This can quickly become a burden if you work with timelines on a regular basis, as you’d be starting from scratch every time.
On the other hand, most dedicated timeline makers come preloaded with a bunch of professionally designed timeline templates to choose from. Simply input or import your data into a template and the application will render the timeline for you. If you’ve opted for Office Timeline as your dedicated timeline maker, you can also create and save your own templates to reuse them for future projects.
RACI, also referred to as RACI matrix, is a project management protocol for assigning responsibilities. At its core, it is a table listing the people (or teams) taking part in a project and their level of involvement with respect to each task. The acronym itself stands for the following:
Responsible: a responsible person or team are directly assigned specific tasks or the production of deliverables; having at least one responsible per tasks/deliverable is highly recommended. Examples here include developers, production teams, etc.
Accountable: the role of the accountable person or team is to delegate the work to the responsible and ensure that each tasks is completed within the allotted timeframe. This job usually falls to the leadership or management.
Consulted: these parties are usually stakeholders for the project and their input on the progress and deliverables will be required when the project manager sees fit. The categories that we can include here are teams from other departments who may be impacted by the project’s flow.
Informed: this includes heads of departments, directors or senior leadership who aren’t affected directly by the outcome of the project, but still need to be kept in the loop. Their input or decisions are not required. Sometimes, a simple high-level presentation is all they need.
RASCI is a variation of the original project management method of defining roles, RACI (Responsible, Accountable, Consulted and Informed). The extra S stands for Supportive, a role that was defined to help the Responsible parties complete their tasks. The Supportive person or team can have varying degrees of involvement in the outcome of the project and will generally act as safeguards and workforce buffers that chip in whenever it is necessary to keep the workload on track.
Two of the most popular methodologies commonly employed to create better outcomes for businesses, PMP (Project Management Professional) and Six Sigma approach this goal from different angles. Before you decide which type of certification you wish to pursue, let’s take a look at what sets them apart:
Improve vs Fix: PMP certified experts are better equipped to increase the success rate of a venture, whereas their Six Sigma counterparts are focused on discovering and eliminating problems in various work processes.
Plan vs Optimize: a Project Management Professional can be found in charge of creating and executing project plans, whereas an employee Six Sigma would aim to minimize unnecessary effort or spendings.
Deadline-driven vs Continuous control: PMPs create work breakdown schedules and follow deadlines, while the Six Sigma role is continuously engaged in the control of phase.
Standardized practices vs Data driven methods: PMP relies on standardized methodologies to meet all the goals of a project within the allocated timeframe, while Six Sigma utilizes analytics to continuously identify and solve new challenges.
The Waterfall methodology contrasts with the Agile strategy in its approach to completing a project. To be more precise, the former requires that a project be divided from its very beginning into distinct, linear phases that cannot commence unless its predecessor has been completed. Waterfall is preferred for projects that are lengthy and predictable because reverting to a previous phase would prove too expensive.
In an ideal world, project managers (PMs) would simply need to create a work breakdown structure, assign the workload, and wait for the project to be completed. Since this is not realistic, project control is one of the most important tasks on the PM’s plate. Essentially, it means tracking the right metrics to determine how things are progressing. Here’s what they need to look at:
Earned value analysis: performing a value analysis should show the schedule variance (how far behind or ahead a project is) and cost variance (how underbudget or overbudget the project is). Knowing these two values can help the PM adjust the project’s parameters accordingly.
Scope control: often times, small tasks that are being added to the original plan will snowball, causing delays and exhausting the allotted project budget. These tasks are known as scope creep, and the best way to combat them is to regularly check the original scope statement and make sure it has not been derailed.
Communication: creating a communication section in the project management plan is a great way to ensure that stakeholders are receiving the exact type of updates they require. It can go a long way towards ensuring a productive and trust-based relationship between the PM and the clients.
Risks: systematizing the known potential hazards from the beginning of the project in a risk register and taking active steps to mitigate them are the final items on the project control agenda. The risk register can be reevaluated and updated throughout the lifecycle of the project.
When you’re creating a project timeline, there are four mandatory items to check off the list, as follows:
Tasks - are essentially breakdowns of the total work, limited in scope and duration, with preset start/end dates;
Milestones - define the project phases;
Dependencies - show the interconnectedness of the tasks on the timeline;
Timescales - act as the backdrop arrow of time showing the linear progression of the schedule.
Although not mandatory, swimlanes and sub-swimlanes can greatly help with clarifying which teams are handling which tasks or how various project phases concur. To better understand how swimlanes can add an extra layer of order to a project, check out our swimlane diagram template which can be easily customized using the free 14-day trial of the Office Timeline add-in.
Use the Office Timeline PowerPoint add-in to quickly update any of these timeline templates or create your own project visuals. Easily change the texts, dates, colors, shapes and styles of your timeline, right from inside PowerPoint.