Create a Project Timeline in Excel with this free template. If you’re looking to schedule a project and need a timeline, having a project timeline template is a great way to start collecting all your data in one place. Using an Excel timeline template will set you on the road to project success.
Why Use a Project Timeline Template?
The main selling point of a project timeline template is it’s a visual tool. This is ideal for visual thinkers, but everyone benefits when they can see the whole project laid out before them. In a glance they’ll discern the tasks and when they need to be completed and where there are milestones.
A project timeline lays the groundwork for your schedule and in so doing the entire project plan. It shows you the major deliverables for the project and in what order they need to be done. This allows you to determine the resources and costs associated with executing those tasks. As you can see the whole plan emerges from the simple timeline.
Every project has stakeholders and the timeline is one of the tools you can use to communicate with them. It provides an outline to the project deliverables, which comes when and what the deadlines are. There are many ways to update stakeholders and a timeline is one of their first insights into how the project will progress.
Who Makes the Excel Timeline Template?
The project manager is usually the owner of the project timeline. They’re responsible for building it, but the data they use can come from a multitude of sources. For one, historical data can help you figure out what tasks are needed, how long they’ll take and what resources and costs they’ll require.
While the task of creating the timeline falls under the purview of the project manager, stakeholders and team members will all contribute. Stakeholders are the reason for the project and their investment means whatever expectations they have should be addressed.
Teams, on the other hand, have a practical knowledge of the work. They were assembled because of their skills and experiences working similar projects and therefore can offer great insights into what is needed and how long things will take to accomplish the project goals.
How to Use Our Project Timeline Template?
Download our free project timeline template and you’ll just have to fill out the various fields that are already laid out for you. The basic structure of a project timeline is simple: tasks and dates. The template captures this data and then automatically populates the spreadsheet into a visual timeline. Here is a brief description of the various elements.
Tasks are small, manageable pieces of work. Each task is a step towards a deliverable, leading to the final deliverable, which is the objective of the project. Just write the name of your task down in the task column. Our template has some sample tasks, but you can enter as many as you’ll need to complete the project.
This is the date you want the work to start on executing the task. It’s simply the day, month and year. These dates might be estimations, but that’s fine. They can always be changed. If you do edit your timeline, that information will be instantly reflected on the visual side of the template.
Once more, this is the estimation of the task’s conclusion. When you expect the work on the task to be completed or the deadline by which it must be done. Again, just add the day, month and year here. This end point with the start point before it will chart your timeline.
In this field, the amount of days between the start date and the end date is automatically calculated. This is called the duration or how long the task is estimated to take. Remember, these dates are your best estimation of how long everything will take based on research. They’ll likely change, but the template is designed to be flexible.
What an Excel Timeline Template Can & Can’t Do
A project timeline is an essential planning tool, but it’s also limited in its functions. The template is a great way to get started with the process of scheduling a project, but as you move on to other phases it quickly loses its value. That doesn’t mean a project timeline template is useless. Here’s a short explanation of what it does and what it doesn’t do.
What Can the Project Timeline Template Do?
As noted, a timeline is a visual representation of your project schedule. It shows you the tasks you need to do in order, with start dates and end dates. That’s about it. If there are changes, you have to manually add them. You can also add an noted column to the template to jot down important information, but it won’t show on the timeline.
What Can’t the Project Timeline Template Do?
There’s a lot you can’t do with the timeline template. For example, you are not able to link dependent tasks, which can cause a problem later when you execute the project. There is no way to add a milestone to mark important dates and help break up the project into phases. Since the template is a static document, there is no way to use it as part of a larger suite of project management tools to build your plan, assign tasks, track and report on progress. If need more dynamic features, try project timeline software.
Import your Project Timeline Template into ProjectManager.com
Once you start using your project timeline template and building your project plan, you’ll quickly discover some roadblocks. The template is a fine tool to get started or if you just need a static visual document to outline the chronological tasks in your project.
However, managing a project involves more tools than a mere timeline. If you’re looking to super-size your timeline so that it’s integrated into a holistic project management software then try out ProjectManager.com. First, you’ll want to take advantage of the free 30-day trial. Then follow these steps.
Import Your Project Timeline Template
Get your template into the tool. It’s easy. Just use the import button, choose the file and import. You can also just open the Gantt chart view on the software and input the data manually or use one of the many industry-specific templates to get started.
Add Start and End Dates
Import the template and the information you collected will populate the Gantt chart. If you’re starting from scratch, then you’ll have to add those start and finish dates in the appropriate columns. This will then be reflected on the timeline side of the Gantt chart. You’ll see the duration indicated by a bar connecting the start and end points.
Set Project Milestones
Add milestones to your Gantt chart. Milestones are represented by diamond icons on the timeline. They represent important dates in the project and are used to note the end of one project phase and the start of another. This breaks the project into more manageable bits.
Link Task Dependencies
Connect tasks that are dependent on one another by simply dragging and dropping one to another. Dependent tasks are those that can’t start or end until another starts or ends. Identifying these dependencies helps avoid bottlenecks later on in the project.
Milestones and dependencies are just the start of how using a project management tool can take your timeline to the next level. You can even assign tasks from the Gantt, attaching files and giving teams detailed descriptions on what needs to be done. Then tag the task for priority or just to make it easy to find.
Our cloud-based tool gives your real-time data, which means that teams can collaborate even if they’re working remotely. Managers can oversee their progress with dashboards and reports. There’s even a workload page to see who is overallocated and reallocate their work to keep teams productive.
Once you’ve imported your Excel timeline template into our software you have the tools you need to control every aspect of your project all from one place. It organizes your work for greater efficiencies. Why jump from one application to another when all you need to bring in a successful project is all together in one tool? For more information, check our 5-step guide to make a timeline.
Related Project Timeline Content
ProjectManager.com is an award-winning software and also the industry’s hub for all things project management. There are scores of blogs, guides and videos to help you through all aspects of managing your project. If you’re interested in a project timeline, then you’ll probably want to read the following pages on our site.
Try ProjectManager.com Free for 30 Days
Once you’ve imported the project timeline template into our tool you’ll see how it expands your project horizons to include more robust planning, monitoring of your project’s performance and detailed reporting to keep stakeholders up-to-date. Rated #1 by Gartner’s GetApp and used by tens of thousands of project teams from NASA to Ralph Lauren, see what it can do for you by taking this free 30-day trial.