Creating small to complex projects requires some tactics. You cannot move forward without breaking larger or complex tasks into smaller ones. Working on complex projects at a single time can be overwhelming. You must manage the projects using proper management teams and skills. You must sort tasks out via discussions. It helps in setting a timeline for your project. In this way, you can easily keep track of the tasks and their progress, and easy to make further changes.
The project manager's primary role is to set responsibilities for each team member and divide the tasks appropriately. It helps organize the entire project into a logical order, which is necessary for creating schedules. Today, many professionals especially project managers, are going for the Best Project Management Training that helps them to perform better. In this article, we will be helping you with the simple steps to create the project timeline.
What is a Project Timeline?
A timeline specifies a step-by-step list of all the tasks that need to be implemented at the right time. The project timeline mainly focuses on what task to complete, the next task, updates on the task mentioned, and other details shared among team members. This timeline includes the time and date of deliverables, which is valuable information for everyone working on the project.
These timelines are not only valid for the team members to keep on track but are also used by the clients so they can see the live update on their project and ask for timely feedback. Creating timelines is essential for every project manager for effective project development.
You can use several tools and practices to create a timeline for your project, offering different features and functionalities to make your project management task more manageable.
Why Is It Important to Create a Project Management Timeline?
Within a complex project and a large team working together to achieve the project goals, it is become challenging to keep track of every task and goal to meet. So, the concept of a project timeline emerges as a need so every team member can know the project's ongoing progress.
Thus, it is necessary that the project manager knows the in and out of the project and what the team is doing to meet the deadlines.
Using the project timeline, a project manager can create a report that will be circulated across the teams and top management. Apart from this, the project timeline helps the project manager to manage the following tasks appropriately.
- Mention the start and finish of the project tasks.
- Distribute the relevant tasks among team members.
- Define the order of the tasks and their priorities.
- Mention the task dependencies.
- Divide the project into smaller tasks.
- Keep track of the task's success.
Other important aspects of creating a project timeline are-
- A proper project timeline helps the manager to communicate as everyone will be on the same page regarding the project's progress. It will help the existing members and the new member to know what is going on within a project.
- The project timeline is helpful during the monitoring phase of the project. It helps the team members to know how the project work is going and speed up the development process accordingly.
- Having a timeline helps the team members know the progress that motivates them and helps them to be productive. The team will be on track, progressing the work as mentioned in the timeline.
- It works as an excellent visibility tool, helping the team members to understand the project dependencies and how to order the task based on those dependencies. You can also see that a delay in one task can imp[act the other.
- A project timeline helps to understand the workload of a specific team. The team can use this information to fast-track their work and manage the task accordingly to complete the tasks on time. This tool helps eliminate the issue of project burnout that occurs due to overburdening the team.
What Should a Project Timeline Include?
A project timeline must include many factors to define the project's progress. It helps spread awareness about the project, tasks, deadline, and others. Below are a few things that every project timeline includes for better visibility.
- The tasks
- Due dates of the tasks
- The duration of each task
- Dependencies of one task on another.
- Team members or assigned employees
The Different Types of Project Timeline
The different project uses different types of project timeline chart to streamline their work. Some timelines focus on results, resources included, or tasks. Every type of timeline has pros and cons and is different from each other in some aspects. The project manager must decide which project timeline sample will suit their requirements.
Below we have mentioned some of the project timelines commonly used globally.
1. Chronology type timeline
Each task within the project is specified in chronological order with a specific start and finish time for each project. The chart in this type of timeline specifies the tasks starting from the left side. But, you cannot include parallel tasks with each other. If you have to work on more than one task at a time, then a chronological timeline is not for you.
2. Gantt chart
For versatile features and functionalities, the usage of the project timeline Gantt chart increases. It has been widely adopted for every project, from small to complex. It helps you to see different information. It is an interactive tool, making it the most popular tool in the market, catering to different project needs.
3. Bar chart timeline
Most of the financial sector companies and applications use this bar chart timeline. This timeline majorly focuses on single output over a specific period. You can mention different factors on its horizontal and vertical axis. Such a timeline helps you understand the trend to make the required changes in your approach.
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How to Create a Project Timeline?
Creating a project timeline is a crucial task that needs to be done accurately for efficient execution. If any of the tasks are delayed, all the dependent tasks will be extended. So, you must ensure to be by the deadline. Follow the below steps to devise an efficient timeline to speed up your delivery.
1. Understanding the project's scope
Before anything, you must know the scope of your project. This process starts with creating a project scope document, including deliverables, resources list, and other information. You will get an idea of how much time it will take to complete the project, the resources required, and how many team members you have to involve.
For example, if you are working on a project to rebrand the website, you must include redesigning the website page and other documents by this date.
2. Creating milestones for your project
After figuring out the scope of your project, create a list of what else is required to get the project done in time. It will help you get an idea of how much time it will take to complete the tasks, the update, and who is working on the task. Every project has many tasks, so create a milestone for each task.
The manager will create smaller tasks with milestones to keep track of. Suppose you are creating a new logo for your client. Then the smaller tasks could be, designing a sample, conducting design team meetings, collaborating with clients for feedback, and sharing the actual design with the client. Such tasks can be specified along with their timeline, keeping the client in the loop to keep them updated.
3. Estimating the task's time
Once you know how many tasks are and how big they are, you can easily estimate the time taken to complete them. If you are unsure how much time it will take to complete a specific task, you can share a timeframe to avoid ambiguity among team members, as some tasks can exceed their timelines.
Setting a timeframe, estimate the time taken to complete the entire project.
4. Assign tasks to team members
Now, it is time to assign the created tasks to different team members. All this information about the task and their working member are updated on the timeline tool so that the manager can see the progress and take progress report about the task from that member.
The manager can utilize the skills of the team members and assign tasks to the members who are good at it.
5. Choosing the project timeline software
A high level project timeline software is necessary that can efficiently cater to all your project needs. As discussed above, various timelines are available, so you can understand the nature of your project and choose the right software. You can also create a project timeline schedule. And sample project timeline template.
This software is helpful as you can plug it into a project to get real-time updates.
6. Plot tasks on your project timeline
Now use your chosen software to plot the different tasks on it. Create notes specifying the dependencies of those tasks. Once you define the tasks on your timeline, every team can start the implementation timeline template to can see the progress of that task in real-time. If you want, you can also create project timeline in excel.
Techniques for Creating a Project Management Timeline
You must know specific techniques before you work with the timelines. Let's take a look at different available techniques.
1. Gantt chart
These are vertical bars specifying the task durations and their dependencies. It comes with pre-built templates to ease your task.
2. PERT technique
It stands for program, evaluation, and review, which helps you understand the time taken for a task to complete.
3. Triple constraint
This technique specifies the relationship between time, cost, and scope. For any project, you must know how one task can impact the other, how many resources are needed, and how to manage them.
4. Critical path
This technique helps determine the most prolonged time taken for the project to complete, including the critical tasks.
5. Project scope statement
It is a document that includes the project deliverables. This document stores all the necessary information required to create an appropriate timeline.
6. WBS (work breakdown structure)
It is an essential tool that breaks down tasks into smaller and compact tasks. It helps set milestones and maintain chronological order.
Critical Elements in a Project Timeline
You can include different elements within a project that helps in creating a project timeline. So you must understand what these key elements are to create a timeline for your project.
1. Project goal
First, understand project’s goal and what you want to achieve from your project. The project goal is also mentioned in the project charter. Without having a proper understanding of the project goal, you cannot create sub-tasks that need to be completed for successful project completion. The project manager should elaborate more on the project goal and assign tasks to all team members.
2. Scope statement
It is also mentioned in the project charter. The project manager mentioned the scope in detail in the project plan. The scope is the essential tasks that need to be carried out without them, and the project will not start. It is created as a part of the project planning containing all the deliverables, tasks, functions, and other details.
3. Identifying the client's needs
It is always necessary to understand the different needs of your clients, stakeholders, and end-users. Without understanding what they expect, you cannot draw an image of the product. Having constant and detailed communication will help you to understand the needs and laminate unwanted manual efforts. Also, their requirements help you to prioritize the tasks and deliver them timely.
4. Set milestones
Every project must have set milestones for the smooth execution of tasks. Now you can create different tasks, including their milestones. With milestones, the team member can act accordingly. It helps in achieving their goals with expected results.
Every project has a budget associated with it. The project manager's responsibility is to optimizely allocate all the resources to each task so that everything will be done within the set budget. Using a timeline helps cover every task while maintaining the budget. The time taken to complete the project is directly proportional to the budget. If the project takes a long time, thus increases the budget.
To understand better and more about the key elements and how to include them, you can go for KnowledgeHut's Project Management Course.
Project Management Timeline Best Practices
To work efficiently with your project timeline, you must follow the best practices to ensure the smooth execution of all the tasks within time. Let’s see what you must take care of while using timelines.
- Keep your timeline updated so that each team member can get the exact time taken to complete that task, who is working, and what task is remaining. With the timeline tool, you can add different elements to your timeline accordingly. It helps in executing the dependency tasks.
- Always communicate in case of anything goes wrong. However, the progress is visible via the timeline software. But, in some cases, the task takes more time than expected. In that case, you must communicate what goes wrong and how to fix the issue.
- Always use the right tool for better results. You might get unexpected results and unwanted delays if you do not use the right tool.
Examples of a Project Timeline
Below is the project timeline example software window depicting the flow of the tasks and how you can use it to achieve your goals.
As per the above project management timeline example, you can see the tasks and sub-tasks specified on the right-hand side of the window. As per your ease, the tasks are further split using different colors so anyone can distinguish them from other tasks. Then on the left-hand side is the project timeline excel sheet, specifying all the information in columns, such as dates, cost, etc.
All the tasks are listed on the right-side of the above window using the Gantt chart. You can see that each task has its start and finish time, called the duration bar. The diamond-shaped symbols specify the milestones. The dotted lines connect two different tasks, specifying the dependencies.
Some project plan timeline tools are prevalent and commonly used, catering to different business needs. We have curated a list of some of the commonly used timeline software.
This tool lets you create tasks and organize them among the team. It is one of the leading timeline tools, emphasizing mainly the collaboration among team members. It has a simple interface, making it a suitable option for beginners. Even team members can leave comments that are visible in real time.
This tool is the best-suited option for SaaS project management with a high focus on collaboration. You can automate the tasks to reduce manual efforts, and the work is done accurately. You can display different types of tasks with high customization. Many guest users can be invited to use this tool.
3. Zoho projects
This excellent timeline tool from Zoho helps businesses keep track of their tasks, track issues, debug them, and run reports with different results. It also has a fantastic feature of communication tools, real-time updates, and others. These tools come with the features like a Gannt chart and working on multiple projects.
This tool comes with a centralized workspace allowing you to create different workflows, Gannt charts, setting calendars, documents, etc. you can use this tool to plan, organize, and keep a record of all the tasks distributed across the team. You can generate customized reports based on what data you want to include. It boosts team collaboration with external clients.
Project Timeline Template Example
Project timeline software or tools help any business to manage their project efficiently and make the entire process smoother. If you have not added a timeline tool to your project, then you must consider it. There are several tools available that come with pre-built templates to make your work more accessible.
You can choose any project timeline template excel and select your project data; it will automatically reflect the graphs with your project data. Also, you can customize those templates to your look and feel and make them more interactive with available features and functionalities.
Download a Project Timeline Template
How to Update Your Project Timeline?
Use communication as your priority tool, binding all the team members and stakeholders together. Every project's success highly depends on communication among team members and stakeholders. Without communication, no project can execute successfully.
Using a project timeline tool, you can easily update all the changes, communicate with the team members, and share updates and others in real time. This will help all the team members to stay on the same page without any ambiguity. Whether there is a change in the project timeline, everyone can see it.
You can also set a notification option so the specified person will be notified if the change belongs to that person. Some changes come from the stakeholders, which must be communicated and can be done quickly via timeline tools.
The project management timeline template excel tools have changed the working of smaller and even complex projects. It has streamlined the process eliminating several manual tasks. It has helped team members to boost their productivity by automating major manual tasks.
With pre-built templates, you can use any timeline tool suitable to your project requirement. These tools offer high customization where you can decide how your timeline will look and what parameters should be there to define your projects.
It has improved the collaboration among team members, top management, and stakeholders, keeping everyone on the same page.
If you have not adopted any project management timeline tool, then it is time to go for it and smoothens the project development and management process.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
1. What should a project timeline include?
There are five key components to a project timeline schedule are:
- The project responsibilities.
- The project’s due date.
- The amount of time it takes to finish each task.
- Team members or employees who have been assigned to them.
2. What are project timelines called?
The timetable for your project that goes from start to finish contains the due dates for each delivery and project milestone in chronological order. It lets the project manager see all the tasks in one place, which simplifies planning.
3. How do you write a project management timeline?
How to Create a Project Schedule in 8 Simple Steps
- Give an overview of the project's scope.
- Make a list of the tasks that need to be completed (WBS).
- For each job bundle, make a task list.
- Identify the project's ramifications.
- Work out how much time each job will take in total.
- Determine whether resources are available.
- Make a calendar with important dates.
- Make a timetable for project management.
4. Why is a project timeline important?
The fundamental benefit of a project timetable is that it aids in determining when the project must be completed. You can achieve this by assigning each work a fair time estimate. You may also use this time to specify critical dates or milestones that signal the conclusion of one project phase and the start of the next.
5. Which four items make up a project timeline?
It provides a mechanism for project managers to plan, execute, and complete projects. The four phases of the project management process are initiating, planning, executing, and closing. Some may include a fifth "monitoring and controlling" step between the executing and closing stages.