What Is a Project Timeline and How to Create It in 7 Steps
All businesses undergo projects. These projects can be related to any aspect of the business, and you’ll likely never take on two projects that are the same. One of the best ways to make sure that you know your project will succeed is by using a project timeline. Project managers will take control of a project management timeline when they want their work to be organized and documented.
Here’s What We’ll Cover:
What Is a Project Timeline?
A project timeline is a project plan that contains a list of tasks and when they should be completed. It will normally encompass the entire project, and is one of the best project management tools available. A project timeline will allow you to track project progress, and segment the project into different time periods, or phases. These time periods create trackable project milestones. This can help project managers and employees grasp the entire scope of the project.
How to Create a Project Timeline in 7 Steps
If you want to create an organized project timeline, follow the 7 steps below!
1. Determine the Scope of the Project
The first step to creating your project management timeline is determining what the project is. What are you looking to accomplish? A clear goal is essential when starting any project, and the foundation of a project timeline. When you’ve defined the goal of your project, turn it into a project scope statement.
For example, if your goal is to start a new policy within your business, your statement should look like this. “We will write and implement a new policy regarding employee conduct.”
2. Define the Deliverables
Project deliverables are any products, services, or results that will come from the project you’re working on. They should be measurable outcomes. If you’re making a new policy, the deliverable can be a written policy. It can also be more specific, like a handbook or a seminar regarding the new policy.
3. Create Your Task List
A project timeline is a large series of tasks, and as such you’ll need to create a task list for your timeline. These assorted tasks can be built with quite a few things in mind. Group your tasks accordingly using some of the categories below:
- Complexity of task
- Task level
- Achievable tasks and unachievable tasks
Each individual task should correlate to one of the deliverables, or should be a step towards the completion of deliverables.
4. Understand Project Dependencies
There may be some dependencies between tasks. This means that before moving on to a task, a dependent task may need to be completed. If that’s the case, it’s important to organize the tasks in a way that makes sense for the project. If a deliverable can’t be completed until research is done, then research should be one of your initial tasks. Knowing which tasks depend on each other helps you shape your timeline.
5. Estimate Time to Completion
Each task should have a task duration. Task durations should be set realistically, and allow for an adequate time of completion before moving to the next task. The duration of tasks is critical in understanding how long the project will last, and how quickly you can expect to see task progress.
6. Define Key Milestones
Once you’ve outlined all of your tasks you can begin to set milestones. Breaking a project into milestones makes the overall task feel more achievable. Once you’ve broken your larger goal down into smaller tasks, you can start to see how those tasks will fit into milestones. Many projects have simple milestones set, like research, design, and revision. These all feel like manageable phases when compared to a large, single goal.
7. Build Your Timeline
Once you’ve completed the previous steps, you’re ready to start building your timeline! You can begin to assign the dates of tasks and large milestones. You’ve already done all of the leg work, now it’s just putting it together.
Project Timeline Tips
If you’re thinking about creating a new project timeline, be sure to check out project timeline software or a project timeline template. Both are very handy tools that can make the creation of a project timeline feel much less daunting.
Project timelines are the best tool for any business that is taking on a new project. They allow you to plan and organize projects into more manageable chunks. There are software and templates available that can help you define your project and plan your own timeline, too!
If you want more information about project management, be sure to check out our resource hub. There are plenty of helpful articles and reviews housed there for all of your business needs!