Every journey starts with the first steps and every project with a plan. In order for stakeholders and executives to get onboard with a certain initiative, PMs (project managers) must draft a compelling overview covering all the bases: objectives, necessary resources, tasks, schedules, milestones, deliverables, so on and so forth.
At this early stage in the project, we’re mainly dealing with ballpark figures like a rough order of magnitude estimate and educated guesses based on previous similar projects, so we need to keep the plan as high level as possible and avoid going into specifics.
Clarity through project visuals
The good news is that’s exactly what stakeholders want as well: a clean work breakdown schedule that defines the critical path of the project without delving into the incomprehensible, overly-complicated bits.
Data visualization techniques are a key factor in the equation, since they allow the audience to make sense of the numbers and their significance even if they aren’t tech-minded.
Options in project visuals
There are, of course, various ways to translate numbers into project visuals, like Kanban boards or flowcharts.
However, when it comes to project planning, nothing beats the good old roadmaps, timelines and Gantt charts.
Simply put, a single Gantt chart or swimlane diagram can show your audience the following:
- Start / end dates of the project
- Milestones and deadlines
- Project lifecycle phases
- Tasks that must be completed and their order
- The team handling each subset of tasks.
Best of all, they frame these details against a temporal backdrop and provide your audience context for a better understanding.
The easy tool to make a timeline
Office Timeline isn’t just another Gantt chart and timeline maker. It’s an all-in-one tool conceived as a PowerPoint add-in that leverages the functionality of Microsoft’s popular presentation software to generate, update and showcase your project visuals from the same interface.
Timeline Pro is defined by how quickly and easily it allows you to create astounding graphic representations using fully customizable PowerPoint timeline templates.
Is Office Timeline truly user-friendly?
You might say “Sure, but there’s a learning curve, right?”. Well, pretty much everything in Office Timeline works on the familiar drag & drop control scheme, so if you’re accustomed to the Microsoft suite, you should feel right at home from the get-go.
Unlike a large number of project management software out there, users don’t need to put in hours to make their way around the app or read extensive tutorials; it’s just that intuitive. Basically, creating a timeline in PowerPoint has never been easier.
Real-world project timeline examples
We’ve talked about how easy and quickly you can integrate Office Timeline in your routine. Now, let’s find out how well this timeline adapts to five fields where planning is crucial for the success of the undertaking, using a project timeline example for each.
And, the categories are:
- Clinical trials
- Product development
- Construction projects
- Marketing campaigns
- Court cases.
Let’s check them out and then you can copy the layout and formatting for your own projects.
1. Clinical trials project timeline example
Among the thousands and thousands of medical devices, dietary supplements and pharmaceutical drugs submitted for approval, only a select few make it to the market every year.
For drug research to secure the much needed funding, their creators must convince backers that they’re on the right track.
Mapping the stages of the clinical trials and showing the progress against a timeband is an excellent way to impress a non-technical audience who’d rather not sit through a reading of sterile patient data.
Instead, show them you’ve planned ahead for all the trial phases with an easy to read timeline of your clinical trials.
Use this template even if you don’t work in pharma: Any product launch that needs a trial phase could use this example as inspiration.
2. Product development timeline example
Developing a successful product isn’t just about finding an untapped market gap or improving on the existing roster of goods and services.
Even if you manage to wow the stakeholders into backing the idea, without a solid plan for each stage, things can fall through the roof quite easily.
With the introduction of swimlanes, this fully customizable product roadmap showcases the work required separately, in each phase: planning, testing, developing and launching, as well as the milestones pertaining to them.
It’s perfect to use as a software project timeline example to be inspired by — can you see how you could present your own tech project laid out like this?
This approach reduces clutter and improves the readability with the aid of color coding, allowing the audience to clearly navigate the strategic plan.
Use this template even if you aren’t launching a product: Any project that has defined phases can copy the example of using phases to represent buckets of work on a timeline.
3. Basic project timeline example
This timeline example is for a very basic, task-driven project with milestones that is using a predictive/linear/waterfall lifecycle.
For example, a construction project.
A construction project is by default one of the most complex ventures because it integrates a plethora of specific task and sub-tasks. Because of this, most scheduling software for this niche tends to be overly complex and sophisticated.
A timeline gives the overall picture for the construction plan which is helpful for sharing with stakeholders so they can see the high level overview.
Then you can use project management software for detailed task level tracking.
Use this generic timeline template example and update the default entries to be updated according to the requirements of the project.
4. Marketing campaign timeline example
When you need to plan work over multiple quarters, you could use this marketing project timeline as inspiration.
A marketing campaign plan is mainly all about tracing the customer’s journey from discovery to purchase, but the strategies are growing increasingly sophisticated every day.
Swimlanes are amazing tools for navigating and mapping this complex process by logically organizing tasks and milestones according to the phase of the process where they belong.
Copy this timeline even if you don’t work in Marketing: Any project that has to be split by swimlanes (e.g. departments doing the work) and also quarters/months could use this example.
It uses tasks within time-bound buckets rather than a Gantt view for more flexibility.
5. Incident or case timeline example
Does your work require you to spell out a timeline that takes place over a couple of days?
This incident/case timeline template gives you ideas of how you can represent activity during a particular short time window.
The picture above shows a breakdown of an incident that could be part of a legal project management case, perhaps something you’d show to a jury to summarize what happened.
This timeline sample arranges the critical facts in chronological order, allowing everyone involved to visualize the events of the case more easily.
Use this 24-hour timeline template in a non-legal project: Copy this example for planning a software release and backout plan, showing a go live schedule or corporate event timeline. There are so many uses!
What to do now
Thanks to an extensive range of templates and drag & drop controls, Office Timeline’s Gantt chart and timeline maker will save hours of your time and ensure a top notch presentation with a built-in wow factor.
Use the ideas above to create project timelines of your own to showcase what’s happening when.