How to Create & Manage Project Timelines
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Project timelines offer an easy way to view task and project schedules. It’s one of the many charts used by managers for both project planning and for monitoring progress along the way. But making one can be difficult and time consuming if you’re using Excel to manage your projects.
We’ll show you how to create easy task and project timelines for your team and your own work. But first, let’s define a typical project timeline and examine some of its key elements.
What is a Project Timeline?
A project timeline, sometimes referred to as a Gantt chart, is a visual representation of a collection of tasks, spread out over a period of time. This timeline can contain tasks and events that have occurred in the past as well as those that are projected to occur in the future. Timelines are often represented with a dateline at the top, with a series of tasks that are spread out horizontally underneath to represent a task’s duration.
All combined, the last task duration in the collection should represent the end of that project or all the tasks involved in the work plan. So you can see easily, in one view, the start and end date of those tasks, as well as how long each task will take.
What Are the Benefits of an Online Project Timeline?
When you make a timeline there are several benefits:
- Visualize your project deadlines
- View task dependencies
- Share project timelines easily with the team
- Improve teamwork by clearly outlining tasks and roles
- Use milestones to mark progress and motivate your team
As you can see, once you create and distribute a timeline to your team, it’s almost as if you’ve provided everyone with a roadmap to the collective goal, which makes it easier for everyone to work together and understand the “big picture” framing their tasks.
What Elements Are Needed to Make a Timeline?
In order to make a timeline, you need to make sure you have these key elements:
- A start and end date for your project
- Your units of measurement (years, months, days, etc.)
- Tasks and their estimated duration
- Milestones, or key points that happen along the timeline
- Recognition of any tasks that are dependent on one another
Once you have these sorted out, it’s time to make your timeline! You can make timelines in a number of ways, the most common being in Excel, on paper, with templates or with project management software. ProjectManager.com is the best solution if you are looking to automate your timeline creation in a capable software that’s interactive, collaborative and can be updated as the project unfolds.