August 31, 2021

What is the project timeline and is it really useful?

Project Management
What is the project timeline and is it really useful?

The project timeline is a visual representation of all the milestones and subtasks you and your team members need to achieve to meet your goal. Which is a successfully finished project (everything is done on time and in the best way possible). 

In simple words, a project timeline helps the project manager and a whole team to see where they are, what else do they need to do. The entire project plan is transformed into easy to understand, simple visual overview.

Most people are visualizers, and that means that they focus on what they see mainly. It is much easier for them to understand reality if they have some visual representation. 

These people will always make notes on the meetings if they really want to remember what was it about, and helps like infographics or mind maps are their best friends. They prefer to note all the tasks they need to do each week, and to check if they are on the same page with others, they use the help of graphs. 

Trust me, there’s a 65% chance that you are a visualizer as well. If you work in marketing, even more. 

A project timeline is formed usually as a horizontal bar chart, where each task has its name and, what’s crucial, a corresponding start and end date. There are few types of project management timelines, but the most common is Gantt Charts. 

project timeline


How to easily implement a project management timeline?

Project managers have a lot of work to do anyway. Creating a project timeline may not be  easy if you’re not familiar with it. However, it is really worth doing this because, as in most cases… being well-prepared is a key to success. There is no sense in using a knife before sharpening it. Putting more force won’t make it work better. Instead of a nice, clean-cut, you’ll get a nasty smash. 

Just make a simple experiment and try to cut a thin slice of tomato with a blunt blade. How much time did you need? Was it successful at all? And then repeat the experiment, but first, put some effort into sharpening your tool. Cut another tomato. Do you see the difference? 

I’m sure you do. 

A good project timeline gives you this sharpness. This is why I highly encourage you to create a project timeline each time you start a new project. Okay, but how to do this?

A simple guide on how to create a project timeline quickly:

  1. Write a project scope statement. This is the moment when the project manager decides what actually do you want to achieve. It is a big picture that can include key milestones, some obvious tasks, a final deadline, and a general idea of what is the project about. 
  2. Create a scope baseline (Work Breakdown Structure). When you have your general idea of the project, it comes time for breaking in down into smaller packages. You won’t create complex task lists yet. The WBS helps you to visualize and organize the project’s tasks, milestones, and deliverables by hierarchy. Thanks to this, you can establish a chronological order.
  3. Break your packages into simple tasks (create the to-do lists). Time for splitting everything into tasks. This is the moment when you create a whole task list, keeping in mind important milestones and other key elements of the project. But it’s not the end. In the next step, you will dig deeper. 
  4. Find dependencies between all the tasks. Some tasks can’t be even started before other tasks are completed. This is an important part of the project management process. When you notice task dependencies, you will be able to create a really successful project timeline. That’s the part of planning about many people forget, and later they are surprised when team members are blocked and can’t follow the timeline. Don’t skip this phase. 
  5. Estimate and set tasks durations. When you have all tasks written, you need to think about the timing. It may be hard if you’re doing it for the first time, but if you use time tracking software (like TimeCamp) at your company, that’s not a problem. Just check all the reports and estimate tasks duration based on the previous months. 
  6. Determine milestones. If you paid attention to every previous part of the project, it will be really easy now. Just take a look at your project plan. Some project managers don’t determine them, but it is really motivating to your employees to show them the project progress. When they see how many crucial milestones they’ve already completed, they will go with the flow with new energy. 
  7. Identify your workforce and make assignments. No matter how great your project timeline is, it means nothing without your squad. Every team member should take care of the right number of tasks. Best if some of them will be their favorites and some new. These familiars are easy to finish in a short time, the new will let your team members learn something. Check your time tracking app data and assign tasks basing on it. 
  8. Build your timeline. There are timeline templates you can use, but you can also implement special software to help you in project scheduling. It all depends on your project management skills and the number of projects you need to take care of daily. If you take care of multiple projects, an Excel timeline template may not be enough. I’ll talk about it more in the next paragraph. 

Project timeline template or project timeline software?

If you like the idea of creating a decent project timeline, there’s one more thing to consider. Should you use some project timeline template or choose some project management tool? Is a free project timeline template a good idea?

If you don't create project timelines very often, the template may be enough. Many people choose Microsoft project templates to start, and this is not a bad idea. However, there are not many of them, and you can feel like it’s not what you really need. Especially if you manage complex projects.

Here’s a project timeline example created with a help of the project timeline template. Great for people who prefer darker themes to let their eyes rest a little. 


You also need to remember that project planning is just the first step. You need to track progress during the project, and an interactive timeline would be a much better idea. Project managers and all the team members engaged in this project should be able to see where they are at the moment and also inform others when they finish something. It should be as easy as possible. 

I think that there is nothing more interactive than a timeline project created in a dedicated project timeline software. It can be something entirely focused on project management, or it can be a more complex tool, where project timeline is one of the key features. 

Project timelines in your team collaboration tool 

Everybody knows that less is more. Why would you force your employees to use many different tools when you can limit them to just a few? 

Using the right project management tool will let you take care of the entire project, also create project timelines. 

HeySpace is a complex but simple-to-use collaboration software that all project managers should try out. It was developed by the TimeCamp team to make cooperation easy, even between remote workers. They couldn’t find the one tool that would meet all their needs, so they decided to create their own. 

HeySpace turned out to be a huge success not just for TimeCamp but also for other companies who tried it. At this moment, we have our own team of developers, marketers, and so on. 

What is our secret? Well, we wanted to really help our employees and project managers, not to complicate things. That is why HeySpace puts attention to communication. You can chat with your colleagues on group chats, individually or under a certain task. It helps to keep everyone on the same page. 

You can also create a project timeline, similar to the Gantt charts, but that’s not everything. Everyone can decide if they want to see it this way or as a kanban board, for example. 


This is really more than a simple project timeline software. It’s a fantastic collaboration tool that will help you not just in project management, but also in better communication. 

heyspace banner


Conclusion

The project timeline is a very useful tool for every project management manager. No matter if you decide to choose to create it with a project timeline template, or you prefer more complex project timeline software.

In both cases, you will see great results and improvement in your projects' workflow. Knowing resource availability, collecting historical data, determine dependencies, and more. All these thanks to the right project timelines will be a great help to you and other project managers. 

Start from today and see how your organization grows. 

Tags:

Choose Your platform and download the app