The Simplest Way to Create a Project Timeline

Need a timeline for your project? If you’ve never created a timeline before, it may seem like a daunting task. But don’t worry- we’re here to help!

Published On: October 29, 20214 min readCategories: Account Optimization, Blog

This post will teach you how to create the perfect timeline that works for your project. From deciding what type of timeline is best for your needs, to outlining the process of making your timeline and keeping your information updated, this guide will help you create a timeline that is simple and effective.

What is a project timeline?

A project timeline is created at the very start of a project and is a clear and concise way to visualize deliverables over the course of the entire project. A project timeline is always in chronological order from the project start date to the project end date and includes important information such as assignees of tasks, dependencies, and key milestones. A project timeline is essential to improve the overall time management component of your project. 

How will a project timeline help me?

For any project manager, a good timeline is key to the success of a project. It’s a great way to communicate project deliverables not only to your team but also to your clients. There are many benefits to creating a project timeline for your project, such as:

  • Defines a clear path for the entirety of the project
  • Allows for everyone to see and maintain the overall end goal of the project
  • Ensures everyone is on the same page (teams and clients)
  • Keeps all members in the loop
  • Prevents bottlenecks and enforces accountability for all members

What types of timelines will work for my project?

There are many forms of project timelines that may be suitable for your particular project. So which one should you use? Let’s break down the types of project timelines.

Historical Timeline

Displays tasks/milestones from left to right in chronological order. A historical timeline is used as an overarching timeline with key milestones and due dates. 

Gantt Chart Timeline

This is the most commonly used project timeline within the Project Management industry. Very much like the historical timeline, it displays milestones from left to right. The main difference, however, is the amount of detail that can be outlined within a Gantt chart. When you have a more complicated project, such as a new website launch or migration, the amount of details displayed in a Gantt chart will be much more effective.

Calendar Timeline

A calendar timeline is just like the name suggests. This timeline outlines in a calendar view when milestones start and end. While this timeline seems more simplistic than the others, it’s a great and easy way to convey timelines. 

How can I create an effective project timeline?

The most important thing about creating a project timeline is the steps you take to make it as clear as possible. Here are some steps to help you create your own timeline today!

  1. Understand your scope of work – Understanding the project’s goals and objectives is key to creating a successful project timeline. The scope of work also will help you determine what team members need to be involved, how long specific tasks will take, as well as, the overall duration of the project. 
  2. Separate your scope of work into milestones and tasks – Figure out your key milestones of the project. This will help you understand what tasks will need to be completed and when. Once the milestones are fleshed out, break each milestone into smaller, manageable tasks. 
  3. Outline dependencies – Another great reason to create a project timeline is it helps determine task and milestone dependencies. What needs to happen before we can move on to the next milestone or task? 
  4. Use time estimates per task/milestone to identify task deliverables – Once you have your list of milestones and tasks (along with their dependencies), it’s time to associate time estimates per task. This will essentially create your timeline. A little tidbit: Always add time buffers to your original estimates. This allows for a contingency plan in case a task takes longer than anticipated. 
  5. Outline who is responsible per task/milestone – Assign tasks to your team and the client if needed. This creates accountability for all parties – especially if something is required from the client (ie. approval on designs). 
  6. Keep it up-to-date – This last point is very important! Use your project timelines as a source of truth for the project. If a task due date needs to be extended, make sure to update within the project schedule so that everyone is informed. 

In short, if you are dealing with multiple teams, milestones and tasks, a project timeline is the best way to start a project off right! It will help keep you and your team get organized from start to finish.

At NAV43 we pride ourselves in handling every project we take on with the utmost professionalism and care.