The project timeline is a sequential order of project activities. It can be of many types but normally a line having one end on starting date and the other on the ending date of an activity.
There are some tools to make an accurate timeline in project management. It shows what tasks are already done, what are in the progress, and what is supposed to be finished in the future.
It helps project managers to track and manage resources for activities as per their sequence of occurrence.
Before coming to timelines, CPM and PERT techniques are used to determine project completion time, critical & non-critical activities, and their floats.
In these techniques project network diagram is made; also a type of project timeline but a bit more complex as it shows necessary details that should be present on the project timeline for easy visualization and monitoring.
Many software packages are available in the market for making the project timeline template, the most popular ones are Microsoft Project and Oracle Primavera.
Purpose of Project Timeline Template
Basically, a project timeline template helps to understand sequential vise task activity for a project. These graphical illustrations are so easy to understand project progress/status in minutes for a non-managerial person like an investor, stakeholders, broker, etc.
So, we can say that a timeline is the whole project plan in the form of task series that has time limitations and duration. From these, we can easily figure out which task is dependent or which is not.
It also helps in finding root cause problems and preparing issue tracker logs!
These timelines are very important for any project because they tell us about whole project dimensions, entire project schedule, due dates, ending dates, and finish lines; which helps us to identify the expected project finishing date.
There is some other kind of project management techniques and tools also being utilized for this project tracking i.e. project dashboard template, project milestone template, project tracking templates, etc.
Key Elements Project Timeline Template Excel
All project management planning revolves around making projects successful by achieving goals set at the time of the planning stage. To make this happen, analysis is conducted just to make sure the project must not divert from set goals during its life cycle.
Risk analysis is one of the key analyses which is performed after CPM and PERT analysis to make mitigation plans for every possible challenge that might come across during the project life cycle.
After having with all analyses to find out a confident time frame for each activity, the project timeline is made to have a look at how the project will go on. What are the start and end dates of each activity? How this activity is linked or dependent on other activities of the project?
Listed key elements of simple project timelines,
- Activities that are to be completed in a project
- Activity start date and end date
- Duration of activity
- Predecessors and Successors of an Activity
How To Create A Project Timeline In Excel
There are many types of project timelines. They may vary depending on project complexity. The most common one is line type (vertical or horizontal) timelines. It also depends on what type of data is available and the best way to visualize the available data.
Gantt chart timeline is the most commonly used type of timeline for many years. Many project management tools have a Gantt chart view feature to construct a Thus, it is easy to understand past, present, and future activities anytime, manage resources for future activities and implement risk mitigation strategies as per the defined project action plan.
There are a few general steps to make the project timeline template from scratch,
- Define a Project Statement
- Create Work Breakdown Structure (WBS)
- Identify the dependencies of tasks
- Calculate the mean/expected time for each task
- Set the start and end date of a task based on dependency and completion time.
- Take time on the horizontal axis while mapping all activities according to dates and dependency order along a vertical axis.
- Project management software can also be used to build Gantt chart timelines from the above available data.
Some of the Gantt chart timelines are available to project data. In a view, the horizontal axis is a time axis while along the vertical axis project activities are mapped respectively to the horizontal time axis based on their start and end time also keeping in view the dependency order of activities.