Find a Project Timeline Template for any Project
As projects become more complex and deadlines become shorter, project managers feel pressured to start working on tasks immediately. On the contrary, good project management suggests that these are occasions where they should spend time planning the project. Poor planning provides opportunities for scope creep or inefficient resource management. But the planning stage does not have to take too much time. Using a project plan template, teams can quickly clarify objectives, schedule milestones, assess risks, calculate resources, and identify dependencies. To make the plan more visible for all involved, project managers should create a project timeline.
Table of contents
- What is a project timeline?
- Examples of project timeline template
- Steps to create a project timeline
- Project timeline use cases
What is a project timeline?
A timeline is a line with dates, events, or activities displayed in a chronological order. A project timeline is a document that chronologically shows a list of tasks, activities, and milestones, with dates, duration, and dependencies. It provides an overview of the entire project from start to finish. Successful projects depend on following the timeline or work plan, so project managers and teams do their best to keep the project schedule on track.
Examples of project timeline template
Project timelines provide many benefits to project teams, making it a vital project management tool. It helps organize tasks, show when work should start, and display deadlines and dependencies.
Gantt chart project timelines
A Gantt chart is a popular project timeline in the form of a horizontal bar chart, where the bars describe the duration, start date, and end dates of each task.
The project timeline can also highlight the different phases of a project, milestones for each phase, and responsible person for each task or task owner.
Project timeline with project phases
Project timeline with milestones
Project timeline with person assigned
Work plan project timeline
Gantt charts are not the only types of project timelines. A work plan project timeline template divides the project into the different phases. For each phase, the work plan lists the itemized planned activities and expected outcomes.
Milestone-focused project timeline
A milestone-focused project timeline is a high-level project view focused only on important periods, project stages, and milestones during the course of the project. The timeline can mention only general description of tasks or activities with limited details.
Stage-focused project timeline
Another high-level type is a stage-focused project timeline. This type of project schedule template shows the major stages or phases of the project in longer time periods such as weeks or months with little to no other details.
Steps to create a project timeline
Project timelines are valuable documents in project plans. At a glance, all stakeholders can see a clear breakdown of the work schedule as well as the critical path without getting lost into the individual task details. By creating a project timeline, project managers help ensure to keep the team on track, promote transparency and accountability, and provide the big picture when all the pieces connect. Here are the steps to creating a project timeline:
- Define project goals – identify the key milestones and deliverables that make the project successful
- Identify all stakeholders – list the names of all the persons involved who will need to see the timeline
- Determine the final deadline – mark the final date and make sure to include contingencies
- Write a project scope statement – put in writing the goals, milestones, deliverables, tasks, and boundaries of the project
- Identify task dependencies – find out which among the tasks are dependent on other tasks to start or end
- Estimate task duration – from the final deadline, estimate the time and duration for your team to complete the task and still meet the deadline
- Set milestones – identify the important dates that mark the end of a phase or the completion of a vital part of the final deliverable
- Organize your project schedule using a project timeline tool – choose an application that is easy to use and update a visible project timeline for all involved
Project timeline use cases
Project timelines are applicable in a variety of industries and objectives. Here are some real-world examples where companies use project timelines to plan and schedule their tasks to achieve milestones and business goals.
Customer appreciation event planning
Create a timeline for the event you planned for your customers. Identify the team members, their tasks, and the sequence of events before the big day.
Product development timeline
Make it easy for sponsors and stakeholders to approve your idea. Show the different stages that the product will go through, the activities, and important milestones over time, from conception to launch.
High-level construction timeline
Project timelines can also have vertical layout especially when you want to fit them on printed paper. This construction plan timeline for a hospital allows you to identify the major stages, important start dates, and general details for each stage.
Aside from project applications, people use timelines marketing campaigns, clinical trials, and legal court cases. Project timelines take the form of horizontal bar charts, but timelines also appear in chronology charts and vertical bar charts.