Timelines for projects are a necessary evil in the corporate sector. They can assist you in keeping track of your progress, ensuring that all the stakeholders agree, and making sure that your project is completed on schedule and within budget.
But it’s easier said than done to make a decent project timetable. We’ll provide you with some advice on how to develop a project timetable in this blog article so you can accomplish your objectives.
By the way, you can find a free downloaded version of our project timeline template after the post. To show you the components you must include in the timetable to get the most out of it, let’s first thoroughly examine the design process before you start making a schedule for your project.
What Is a Project Timeline?
A project timeline is a visual and chronological representation of each milestone you want to reach while realizing your project. In essence, it is a linear scale with all project activities listed in chronological order and their associated due dates.
Project Timeline: Benefits and Purposes
A successful and on-time project completion is guaranteed by the step-by-step adherence to your deadline.
Additionally, timelines have the following other useful functions:
- They are reflections of high-level project plans that may be shown to various stakeholders (sponsors, team members, clients, etc.) in order to more clearly express project goals, deliverables, and requirements.
- You may quickly see any gaps or overlaps between the planned project tasks when the timeline is visualised, allowing you to more effectively allocate workloads and create accurate project timetables.
- At the end of the project’s life cycle, a timeline of the finished project may be used to compare the results obtained to those anticipated, providing a wealth of useful data for decision-making in the future.
Overall, a well-designed project timetable may provide you with a wealth of advantages. It is also incredibly simple to make. You may either open an Excel spreadsheet, construct a table, adhere to the basic design guidelines, and enter your data, or you can utilise specialised project timeline software.
How To Create A Simple Project Plan In 5 Steps [Step-by-Step Guide]
Finding a hidden treasure trove is less difficult than creating a project plan paper.
But if you don’t know how to handle the project planning process correctly, it may be a hassle. Here are five quick steps to creating a project management strategy to assist you:
1. Do your research and ask the right questions
Never beginning a journey without reviewing their past is a rule followed by Gates and his group.
They get more understanding of the field, and they also gain clarity on how to approach the problem.
The same goes for writing a project plan; the first step is to study and comprehend the project.
How do you go about doing that?
By reviewing all of the project’s material, including any early notes you’ve made on ideas or talks with clients.
And instead of making educated guesses if you need more information, you most likely will ask the proper questions.
Ask yourself (and your team) the following questions.
- What specifications have the customer have for this project?
- What possible dangers and obstacles may there be for the project?
- Do the project sponsor and other stakeholders need to provide us with any clarifications?
- How many workers will be needed for this project?
- What ought our communication strategy to be?
- How are projects evaluated for success?
This not only helps you comprehend the project you will be working on, but it also helps you get ready for any problems that may arise in the future.
2. Define the project
Once you’ve decided what you’ll be doing, you must precisely define the project.
The project sponsor, important stakeholders, and team members shouldn’t be perplexed by it.
You should define the two key components of each project as follows:
A. The project’s goal
Specify the goals you have for the project.
Although creating the deliverable will be your primary project goal, you may also have ancillary goals. This might be anything from increasing the cohesiveness of your project team to optimizing your operations.
B. Project’s remit
Over the course of a project’s life cycle, most scopes change, particularly in Agile and Scrum projects.
Therefore, it could be simpler to clarify what isn’t part of your project’s scope rather than attempting to figure out what is. It will also be difficult to avoid scope creep without a clear understanding of the project’s scope.
Describe scope creep.
Scope creep occurs when the project’s scope keeps expanding. Due to the numerous added activities, this eventually creates several project hazards, such as staff burnout.
3. Determine Dependencies
Tasks that depend on one another cannot be begun until the dependent job has been finished. When you prepared coffee this morning, you probably relied on two straightforward but essential task dependencies: a grinder to turn the beans into brewable form, and a filter to pour them into. The grinder was reliant on the beans. The ground beans were necessary for the filter. And you had to add water to make the final product.
The dependence connection that occurs most frequently is finish-to-start, where the first job must be finished before beginning the second. There are, however, a total of four task dependencies. These are what they are:
Finish-to-start: Before beginning the next task, the previous one must be finished.
Start-to-finish: Before the second task can be completed, the first task must begin.
Finish-to-finish: Before the first job is completed, the second task cannot be completed.
Start-to-start: The first task must first complete itself before the second task can begin.
4. Identify Milestones & Critical Path
Milestones are important parts of your project timeline because they mark important moments in time that demonstrate how a project is progressing toward its objective. They are the most significant activities in your project, yet they are not time-bound. Consider them as a signal that flashes to indicate that “you’ve reached a crucial stage in your project journey.”
Here are some examples of milestones you may list in your timeline:
Important delivery to your client or internally
- approvals from clients or stakeholders
- the accomplishment of a key performance indicator (KPI)
- Important conferences
- Phases’ beginning and ending times
The critical route is the order of actions that, if completed late, will prevent you from meeting milestones or delivering deliverables by the planned project timeline. To prioritize work, it is vital to determine the key route on your project’s timetable so that all stakeholders are aware of which activities have the least amount of leeway and who is accountable for completing them.
Here are the fundamental procedures for determining the critical route and the application of milestones.
- List all the steps needed to finish the job.
- Calculate how long each task will take to finish.
- List all dependencies to see which tasks must be completed for others to begin.
- List the project’s checkpoints.
Find the route that will take your jobs the longest to finish the project. This can help you better understand how much slack, or room for missed deadlines, you’ve built into your project timetable when paired with milestones. If you give your team members too much leeway, they can decide not to prioritize your project. By failing to meet important deliverables, you run the risk of offending your client or other stakeholders.
5. Display Your Project Timeline Graphically
It is time to organize your project scope, deliverables, and work breakdown structure into a graphical representation. This makes sure that project stakeholders can readily convey information like milestones and the critical route. Typically distinct from your project scope document, this visual depiction of the project timetable makes it simple to update and distribute once the project is underway.
A Gantt chart, which employs colored bars to represent a project’s timetable, is the most common method of illustrating a project timeline. The vertical axis shows the tasks, while the horizontal axis shows the time. Microsoft Excel and Google Sheets are the two programs that are most frequently used to build a project timeline template. Other independent software providers also provide templates.
Effective project management begins with the development of a project timetable. These five stages will help you create a straightforward yet thorough project plan that will keep your team on task, foster better teamwork, and raise the likelihood that the project will be completed successfully. Keep in mind that project management is a dynamic process, therefore as the project advances, it’s crucial to modify and update your timetable. You may accomplish your project objectives and provide outstanding outcomes with careful preparation and attention to detail.