Project Timeline Tutorial for Project Management

April 20, 2012
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A few months ago, we were designing the course structure for Free Facebook Valuation Modeling #157;. Now, this was a 28 day extensive course with numerous activities scheduled each day. We first created a project timeline in the form of a list in excel. However, this looked too cluttered and messy. There was just too much going on!

We then looked at different ways to depict this so that it would be easy to interpret and give a consolidated view of all the activities in a snap shot. The time line graph was the most aesthetically pleasing.
We were pleasantly surprised when we received a mail from one of our students that he liked our timeline graph and wanted to learn how to make it.
So we made this tutorial so that everyone can use this in their day-to-day activities, especially in project management.

In Project Management project time line provides all the crucial information about a project in a snapshot. It helps telling story of your project to everyone easily. That is it answer questions like

When the project started?

When the first prototypes create? Etc.

For manager it helps in knowing the current status of the project and where the efforts are going.

The project time line can be created in the customized manner considering your needs.

Here I have discussed few simple steps to model (create) project time line in excel.

Step 1: Create the schedule of your project in a excel work sheet
Step 2: Add height to the excel sheet in which you have created the schedule

Height must be given to each activity in your schedule modeled in excel. The reason to give height is that we will use it as values for the “Y” axis . it will show each activity parallel to that particular height in the final time line chart.
Step 3: Draw a simple scatter chart without selecting any data
Note: You have to draw the chart without selecting any data

Step 4: Double click on the blank data and press the select data option
In the select data option we will provide “Axis Option” (i.e. “X” axis & “Y” axis value) to the blank chart
Click the Add button to insert the axis option
“X” Axis = Select the date column (as shown in the picture above)
Axis = Select the height column

After inserting values for both axis press the OK button

Step 5: Convert the simple Scatter Chart to a Time Line Chart
Take the cursor on the blue line and press the Right Click and select the Format Data Series
In the Format Data Seriesgo to Line Colorand select No Line option

After selecting “No Line” go to “Marker Option” and select “Built â€"in” option

Selecting the “Built â€"in” option you are actually changing the marker style
Now again double click on the chart and you can see “Chart Tools” option has appeared above the excel sheet. Under “Chat Tools” option go to “Layout” â€" than â€" “Error Bars” and select the “More Error Bars Options…”
Under More Error Bars Option go to Vertical Error Bars select Minus, NO Capand Percentagen Percentage Put value 100
After closing the populated window, you can see that the chart has changed from a line graph to a vertical shape graph (i.e. it looks like value are placed on a time line)
In this graph you can see that alphabet “H” is appearing to each line. The meaning of “H” is that it is representing “Horizontal Axis” with value “1” to it. This is of no use to us, so we will go to its source and make the value “0”, so that it does not appear on our chart.
Double click on the chart and you can see “Chart Tools” option has appeared above the excel sheet. Under “Chat Tools” option go to “Layout” â€" than â€" “Error Bars” and select the “More Error Bars Options…. Then go to “vertical Error Bars” and select “Fixed Value’ and make it

Step 6: Add Data Level to the chart
Go to any of the marker and right click and select “Add Data Labels
Clicking on the “Add Data Labels” will show “Y” axis values on the chart.
Step 7: Replace the “Y” axis values with the project activities
Click on the Data Labels, go to the formula bar and put “=” sign and link it to the respective activity

It might be little confusing, so follow the pictorial guideline
Pressing Enter you will see that “500” has changed to “Project Kickoff”
Pressing Enter you will see that “500” has changed to “Project Kickoff”

Final view of the chart
Note: we have deleted the grid line and “Y” axis values form the chart
Click;hereto download the file.


About the Author

Pankaj Baheti is a CFA Level III Candidate currently working with Pristine. Prior to Pristine, he was working with Achi Group. He has done his Post Graduate Diploma in Management and loves trekking in the hills of Arunachal.


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