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Project Timeline – A Project Management Chart

Timelines are meant to show the steps of a process or project over a certain period of time. They don’t show very much detail, but they do make it easy to see when each step of the process must be completed. They shouldn’t be used to tell individuals what they need to do to reach the completion of the project; instead they show when deadlines for various segments of the process or project.

Company History Timeline

A Timeline Chart Example: Company History Timeline

Typical Uses

Timelines show a broad overview of a certain project or process and are especially useful when there is a project with many different aspects that must be completed by a certain time. It can have many different deadlines and will simplistically show when each group or individual must have his or her part completed. It can also be used to show when different steps of a process will occur.

Best Practices

Identify the purpose. Determine what project or process you are making a timeline for.

Make the timeline. Decide when your project or process begins and when it must be completed. Make a horizontal line in the center of your page. Place the start date at the beginning and the end date at the end.

Divide the timeline. Depending on your dates, divide the timeline up into reasonable sections using small vertical line segments or dashes and labeling each as what it is. (For instance, if your timeline covers a year you may want to divide it into months, for a day it should be divided into hours, and for a century, into decades, etc.)

Change time. To show an unequal lapse in time, for instance, if you wish to skip 20 years if nothing pertaining to your timeline occurred at that time, you can use a zigzag line in the middle of the timeline to show this.

Add events. Place small circles along the line wherever an event takes place or a task must be completed. Then attach a vertical line and extend it from the dot up or down, whichever way has more room, and write the event or task due at the end of the line. You may choose to place a rectangle around the event or just leave it as it is.

Add visuals. Use pictures to further illustrate the event or task on your timeline. This can add clarity and appeal.

Don’t deviate. In order for a timeline to be useful it must be adhered to. If you miss deadlines or put things off then it was a waste of time to create it in the first place so be sure to stick to it.

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