Project Timeline Explained

Project Timeline

Project timelines are planning tools that allow you to organize all the activities that make up a project, in order. Create milestones, set deadlines, and manage tasks, all in one easy to view location.  Using timelines with project timeline software unlocks interactive features that dramatically improve the way they can be visualized and collaborate on projects.

Providing a visual representation, timeline are a visual list of tasks or activities placed in chronological order, which lets project managers view the entirety of the project 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. It also provides an in-depth overview of the entire project from start to finish. When a task starts and when it’s due—and importantly, whether or not it’s dependent on another task.

Project timelines give project managers an opportunity to:

  • Organize their tasks
  • Show when in the project the tasks start
  • View task deadlines
  • Link dependent tasks
  • Break the project into phases
  • Identify team members assigned to a task

To make a thorough project timeline, follow these steps:

  • Write a project scope statement: A scope statement outlines the tasks, milestones and deliverables for the project. It’s an essential part of the project management plan and it has all the information needed for the project plan timeline
  • Make a work breakdown structure (WBS): Use this graphic tool to break down the project scope into smaller work packages. The WBS allows the visualization and organize the project’s tasks, milestones and deliverables by hierarchy to establish a chronological order
  • Identify task dependencies:  find out which of those activities are dependent on other tasks to start or end
  • Estimate task duration: Make a reasonable time estimate for each task. This is a critical step to create the project management timeline, and determine the time required to complete the project
  • Define deadlines: Determine how much time the team can spend on each task
  • Set milestones: Milestones are important dates that mark the end of one phase and the beginning of the next, which makes them an important component of a project management timeline. Milestones are reached by completing task sequences and deliverables

Project management timelines can take many different forms with varying levels of efficacy. They can be drawn by hand, or on a whiteboard, but this method is inflexible and large changes to your project might require scrapping the entire timeline.

Using a spreadsheet loaded up with macros can make for very capable, if time consuming to create, timeline. A project timeline excel template can save effort and time it takes to create the spreadsheet.

To run projects effectively and efficiently, project managers prefer project timeline software that integrates their tasks with an interactive, feature-rich Gantt chart that can schedule, assign tasks, monitor progress and report on performance. Project timeline software is more versatile than project timeline templates because it allows project managers to easily update the timeline and keep track of tasks with dashboards and reports.

As stated, software is commonly used by project managers to create their project plan timelines. Project timeline software is an integral part of the planning process and often includes additional features that help to monitor progress when executing the project.

Using project timeline software is generally regarded as a necessity for keeping a modern project on schedule. It allows managers and teams to see the status of their tasks; that is, whether they’re in progress, overdue or done.

At its most basic, project timeline software creates a graphic representation of the project on a timeline with tasks and milestones plotted across. Tasks can be assigned start and end dates, and display a duration bar that indicates the planned amount of time to complete the tasks. More powerful software offerings can also include further options to manage tasks.

Online project timeline software offers a centralized data repository in which everyone involved in the project can access the project timeline and other critical project documents and data. This means that managers and teams can access the project timeline when they need to, even if they’re working different shifts and located in different time-zones.

Every project is impacted by the triple constraint of time, cost and scope. To start controlling the time and scope part of that important triangle, create a project timeline during the planning stage.

The project timeline helps everyone on the project team by giving them a roadmap of where they are, and where they should be, at every point in the project. Timelines and schedules are essential to execute the project plan.

As planning tools, project timelines and understanding how to compose them is essential to every project manager, let us know your thoughts, tips and trick you use when creating a project timeline, we would like to hear from you. All the very best on your project management journey.

Tasks are given start and end dates and show on the timeline as a line connecting to points in time. If some of those tasks are dependent on another to start or finish, these task dependencies can be indicated on the project timeline as well.

This assists a manager by keeping those dependencies visible and preventing possible bottlenecks that could block the time during the execution of the tasks.

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