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Project timelines are the backbone of any project plan. They’re an incredibly useful visual project management tool that lays out your tasks and events in chronological order. This helps project managers plan, create schedules, prioritize work and organize tasks.
What Is a Project Timeline?
A project timeline is a project management tool that defines the duration of the project from start to finish. All your project tasks should be included in it, which helps the team understand what needs to be done and when. Project timelines are the foundation of a project schedule, which is more detailed.
Creating a project timeline is easy with the right tools.Project Manageroffers multiple project management views such as Gantt charts, kanban boards and project calendars so that you can create a robust timeline for your projects. More importantly, these tools are connected to timesheets, workload charts and real-time dashboards for better project resource management.
While there are lots of timeline makers available online, not all of them can be considered project timeline makers. Most online timeline makers are designed for creating basic, all-purpose timelines, but they’re not a project management tool like ProjectManager. Let’s go over the main characteristics of a project timeline maker.
What Is a Project Timeline Maker?
A project timeline maker is software equipped withproject management toolslike Gantt charts, project calendars and other task management and project scheduling features. You’ll need these and other features to not only create a project timeline but manage projects, which involves keeping track of resources, assigning tasks to team members, monitoring project progress and much more.
What Are the Key Features of a Project Timeline Maker?
Here’s an overview of some of the main features of a project timeline maker, which will help you create aproject timelineand track it throughout the project life cycle.
Gantt chartsare a critical part of any project timeline maker because they let you map out project plans, create a project timeline, identify task dependencies and much more.
ProjectManager’s Gantt chart is one of the best and most robust tools on the market. While some Gantt charts are limited, ProjectManager’sonline Gantt chartlets you assign tasks to team members, track project costs, identify the critical path of your projects and share files with unlimited storage.
Project timelines show how work will be executed over time. But just merely mapping out tasks on a timeline isn’t enough in project management. You’ll need to pay for labor, materials, equipment and other types of project resources. That’s whytimesheetsare a great project timeline-maker feature.
WithProject Manager, you can use multiple project management tools like Gantt charts, task lists, project calendars and more. These project timeline maker tools are linked to timesheets, which will help you gather all your labor costs in one place.
Project calendars are an essential project timeline-maker tool. While most project managers prefer to use a Gantt chart forproject planning, scheduling and tracking, there might be team members or project stakeholders who prefer to visualize project timelines in a more familiar tool, like a project calendar.
ProjectManager’s project calendar is linked to other project management views like Gantt charts, task lists,kanban boardsand project dashboards so that you and your team can plan and visualize project timelines with multiple project management tools.
Once you’ve created a project timeline, you’ll need to keep track of it so that your project is completed on time and under budget. ProjectManager’s real-timeproject dashboardsare the perfect tool to monitor progress, track project costs and balance your team members’ workload so you don’t miss anything about your projects.
How to Make a Project Timeline
The two most common methods to create a project timeline are Gantt chart templates and project planning software. You can get started with our freeproject timeline templateand once you’re ready, you can import your data to ProjectManager to use its robust project planning features.
1. Define Your Project Scope
The first step in creating a project timeline is determining the scope of the project. Theproject scoperefers to all the work required to complete your project, including tasks, deliverables and milestones. To define your project scope, you can begin by outlining what deliverables you are going to produce throughout the project and the tasks needed to produce them.
2. Identify the Tasks That Make up Your Project Timeline
Each deliverable represents a milestone on your project timeline. The points between them are the tasks required to create that project deliverable. In order to ensure that you have a thorough list of all your tasks, use awork breakdown structure, which is a tree diagram with your final deliverable on top and all the steps leading to it.
3. Evaluate Your Project Timeline
Next, look over each of the tasks and events you’ve collected and ask yourself—do they achieve the goal? Are they specific enough? This is how you determine what’s essential and what could be left aside if time and costs constrain your effort.
4. Add Dates to the Timeline
Every task must have a duration, and together, they all have to fit within the timeframe of yourproject timeline. Therefore, it’s critical that you do your best to estimate the time each task will take. There are several ways to get more accuracy, from your personal judgment or expert team members’ opinions to historical data and statistical analysis.
5. Create a Timeline on Paper or With a Project Timeline Maker
Finally, you’re ready to map out your timeline. You have all the project scope elements you need, and they can be assembled manually or by using a timeline maker orproject management software. A timeline maker will only help you create a project timeline, while a project management software will cover your time tracking, task management and team collaboration needs.
Best Project Timeline Makers
If you’re looking for a timeline maker software solution, there are many products of varying features, from rudimentary to complex. Here are a few to try out, some free and others paid. We’ve only included timeline makers that offer project timelines excluding those that focus on graphic design, infographics and presentations.
ProjectManager is a project management software that offers a complete set of planning, scheduling, tracking and reporting tools. Its Gantt chart feature lets you create interactive timelines for your projects in a few clicks. Then you can assign tasks to your team members and use dashboards to keep track of your project’s workload, costs, schedule and budget.
Office timeline is a PowerPoint add-on to make and share different types of timelines. Although this timeline tool is designed for PowerPoint presentations, it’s capable of creating static Gantt charts and has different types of project timeline templates.
If you’re looking for another Microsoft alternative, you could try making timelines with Microsoft Project, which is a project management software that offers more timeline features than Office Timeline or Excel. Microsoft Project has project management tools to plan and manage your projects from start to finish.
Preceden is a free, lightweight project timeline maker that works fast to make colorful timelines. This web-based timeline tool allows you to build and share a timeline. You can create one timeline with up to 10 events on the free version, but payment is required to create more than that.
An easy-to-use timeline creator designed for business. It can attach supporting files, which is a helpful asset. You can create a project timeline, import data and save timelines in a variety of different formats. It’s not free, but you can take a 14-day trial to see if it’s right for your projects. Free timelines are watermarked, though.
Sheets is Google’s online version of a spreadsheet. It allows you to create, edit and collaborate for free, all you need is an account. Google Sheets is a great team collaboration tool when it comes to all-purpose spreadsheets, but it’s a limited project timeline maker. There are four timeline templates, but you can create custom ones if you’re willing to put in the time.
Project Timeline Makers vs. Project Management Software
We’ve explored some of the timeline-maker alternatives you can find online. Some of them allow you to create great project timelines, but they tend to be a dead end. You can set up the schedule for your project but then have no bridge to link the schedule to your overallproject management tools. Therefore, timeline makers feel limited no matter how many bells and whistles they offer.
You may be better served by project management software equipped with a Gantt chart, which is another visual tool that has a task list spreadsheet on one side and an interactive project timeline on the next. It’s sort of like a project timeline on steroids, which gets you over all the hurdles you might have come across when using only a timeline maker.
The big difference between aGantt chartand a simple project timeline is the data. Both detail the sequence of tasks over time, but the Gantt chart can add more information, such as who is responsible for executing the tasks, whether any tasks have dependencies and even setting milestones to breaking up the larger project into smaller, more manageable phases.
A project timeline with limited information is going to frustrate any project manager. A Gantt chart, on the other hand, is a visual tool with a timeline that was created to respond to all the needs related to building a project timeline, schedule and plan.
How to Make a Project Timeline With ProjectManager
ProjectManager is an award-winning project management tool that organizes your tasks into project plans. The cloud-based software can be accessed anywhere and at any time with an internet connection. It is your one-stop shop for all yourproject managementneeds, starting with making a timeline.
There are several ways to start. You can import your list of tasks from a spreadsheet, add them directly to the Gantt chart or use one of the many industry-specific timeline templates to give you a hand.
On your Gantt chart, you can create subtasks, which are smaller tasks that are part of a larger task. Once you have all your tasks collected, you need to estimate their duration. When each has a start and finish date they will populate the timeline on the right-hand side of your screen, where you can assign those tasks to your team members.
Now you have a Gantt chart that works as an interactive timeline andproject scheduleand you can customize it with colors to make it easy to differentiate tasks. There’s also a milestone tool, which is used to mark the end of one phase and the beginning of another. It’s represented on your timeline by a diamond-shaped icon. Milestones can also be used to note important project due dates.
Here’s where the Gantt chart leaves timelines in the rearview mirror. There’s something calledtask dependencies, which just means that some tasks won’t be able to start or finish until another has started or finished, and if you don’t identify these dependent tasks they can lead to bottlenecks that block your team from being productive.
But connecting dependent tasks is as easy as dragging one to the other. Now they’re linked with a dotted line on your Gantt so they won’t sneak up on you. In addition, our Gantt chart allows you to identify thecritical path, which is the sequence of tasks that must be completed on schedule to finish your projects on time.
A Gantt chart is a better project timeline, but what makes it indispensable for managing a project is how it’s integrated into every other project management tool in our software. For example, you can assign team members to tasks from the Gantt, attach files, add directions, set tags for priority and more. You can even track their progress by the amount of shading on the duration bar.
Another thing timelines can’t do is update your stakeholders. Atimesheetmight give them an outline of what you intend to do with your project schedule, but we can generate reports with one click that are easy to filter and share, showing detailed data on time tracking, cost control, progress, the overall health of the project and much more.
ProjectManager takes your project timeline and turns it into a fully loaded project management software to help you plan, monitor and report on every phase of your project. Multiple project views give teams kanban boards to visualize their workload and Gantts for managers to control schedules. Use task lists to manage your own work. There’s more, so why not take thisfree 30-day trialand see how all our features can save you time and money?
Adobe Express can be used as a customizable timeline maker, giving you the power to grow your business. Start with one of our timeline templates, and you can search thousands of images and icons to add to your design. Finally, choose the look and feel from a set of professional designs.How do you create a project step by step? ›
- Step 1: Define your goals and objectives. ...
- Step 2: Set success metrics. ...
- Step 3: Clarify stakeholders and roles. ...
- Step 4: Set your budget. ...
- Step 5: Align on milestones, deliverables, and project dependencies. ...
- Step 6: Outline your timeline and schedule. ...
- Step 7: Share your communication plan.
On the Insert tab, in the Illustrations group, click SmartArt. In the Choose a SmartArt Graphic gallery, click Process, and then double-click a timeline layout (such as Basic Timeline).What is a project timeline template? ›
A project timeline template is a tool that displays the project schedule, including individual tasks, key milestones, and due dates.Is there a timeline template in Google Docs? ›
Go to the Google Docs home page and click on 👉 Go to Google Docs. You'll be redirected to a new page that shows a template gallery. 👉 Click on blank to start creating a timeline.How do I create a timeline in Word Online? ›
- Go to Insert, select SmartArt.
- In the Choose a SmartArt Graphic gallery, click Process.
- Select a timeline layout (Basic Timeline or Circle Accent Timeline) and then click OK.
- Edit text and change items format and colors as needed.
To track and visualize tasks easier and faster, use timeline view. Timeline view is an interactive visual layer in Sheets that can help you manage many project parts, such as: Project tasks.What is a timeline example? ›
A timeline is a list of important events arranged in the order in which they happened. You might write out a timeline of Civil War battles when you're studying for a big history test.What should be included in a project timeline? ›
- Start date and end date. The calendar dates that work on your project begins and when the final deliverable is due. ...
- Tasks. Everything that needs to be completed during a project to successfully complete the project. ...
- Milestones. Key dates during the project. ...
- In the "Insert" tab on the ribbon, select "Smart Art" from the "Illustrations" section.
- In the left pane of the new window, select the "Process" option, then double-click one of the timeline options, or select an option and select "OK."
- Your timeline will appear on the spreadsheet.
A project timeline is a visual list of tasks or activities placed in chronological order, which lets project managers view the entirety of the project plan in one place. A project timeline typically takes the form of a horizontal bar chart, where each task is given a name and a corresponding start and end date.How do I use Google timeline? ›
- On your Android phone or tablet, open the Google Maps app .
- Tap your profile picture or initial Your Timeline .
- Select a place from Timeline.
- Tap Details.
- Scroll until you find Timeline. . Next to this icon, you can find information about the last time you visited.
- Decide on your purpose. Decide what you want your timeline to show and give it an appropriate title at the top of the page. ...
- Draw a line across the page. ...
- Specify the time period. ...
- Mark out important dates. ...
- Customise the timeline.
- In Google Drive, click New Google Sheets. Blank spreadsheet.
- Click Untitled spreadsheet and enter a title for your project plan.
- Add columns. For example, you might add columns for tasks, task owners, due dates, status, and comments.
- Add content to track the tasks in your project.
To create a hyperlink, click Insert > Link. In the Display text box, type the text that people will click on. To link to a web address, type or paste the address in the Address box. Tip: If you don't need display text that's friendlier to read than the web address, just type the web address.How do I install Microsoft timeline? ›
Easy. When you purchase the Office Timeline add-in, we send you a unique Product Key. Download and install the free add-in, click Upgrade on the Office Timeline ribbon in PowerPoint, and enter your Product Key. Our servers will validate your license and activate the product for a one-year period.What is the best Google app for timeline? ›
Option #1: Use Lucidchart to make a timeline in Google Docs. Lucidchart integrates with Google Workspace, so you can use our visual workspace to easily add professional timelines to any document.Can I download Google timeline? ›
- Create an Export on Google Maps.
- Near the bottom, select “Your Data in Maps.”
- On the next screen, scroll down and select “Download Your Maps Data.”
Google Maps Timeline is considered a reliable tool for tracking your location history and providing information about your past activities. While this might be true, we discovered that the location accuracy and reliability vary depending on various factors.How do I create a Gantt chart for a project timeline? ›
- Select the data you want to chart. ...
- Click Insert > Insert Bar Chart > Stacked Bar chart.
- Next, we'll format the stacked bar chart to appear like a Gantt chart. ...
- If you don't need the legend or chart title, click it and press DELETE.
Timeline charts are highly versatile visual charts that are used to illustrate a set of events chronologically. They're an excellent tool for conceptualizing event sequences or processes to gain insights into the nuances of a project.What are the 3 parts of a timeline? ›
- Events. A timeline is composed of a series of events: an occurrence that happens at a particular time and place for a given duration. ...
- Entities. ...
- Relationships. ...
1. : a table listing important events for successive years within a particular historical period. usually timeline.How do I create a project timeline in Powerpoint? ›
- On the Insert tab, click Smart Art.
- Pick a timeline layout from the gallery that appears, such as this Basic Timeline in the List section. ...
- In the text editor, enter the dates and descriptions, and then press Enter.
Yes, Microsoft Excel includes several pre-made timeline templates. To view them, simply search for 'timeline' in Excel in the search bar at the top, and there you have it.Which four items make up a project timeline? ›
- Tasks that are to be accomplished.
- Starting and ending dates of tasks.
- Duration of tasks.
- Task dependencies.
An event planning timeline is a checklist, in chronological order, of all the stages and steps involved in planning an event. It's a long-term event timeline that accounts for up to 12 months of lead-in time prior to an event taking place.Is there a timeline template in PowerPoint? ›
Is there a timeline template in PowerPoint? Yes, PowerPoint does have a series of simple graphics that users can manually format and adjust to create a basic timeline.Is a Gantt chart a timeline? ›
A Gantt chart is a horizontal bar chart used to illustrate the timeline of a project and its tasks. This gives your team a visual overview of project information like your project schedule, upcoming milestones, and overall project timeline.Is there a timeline template in Word? ›
Word does not have a default timeline template, but you can insert a basic timeline in your document going to the Insert tab and selecting SmartArt. Then, in the Choose a SmartArt Graphic gallery, click Process and select one of the two timeline formats there - Basic Timeline or Circle Accent Timeline.