Visualization is a powerful strategy that can be used to accomplish something. If you want a project done, then visualize yourself actually finishing it and reaping your rewards for the effort. In business presentations and documents, like in a business plan, one thing that can make investors believe that you can actually finish the job is if you have a comprehensive timeline chart.
A timeline chart is a graphical representation of a project process or series of events that are listed or laid out in chronological order. Usually, it consists of a horizontal line labeled with dates, events, and actions interconnected with dot and lines. Timeline charts are very important when it comes to conducting a project as it informs the members of the team about the necessary tasks at hand.
Coming up with a timeline chart is an important skill that a project manager must develop. It shows them the phases that are in the past, the activities that are in progress at the present, and the events that need to be reached in the future. Creating a timeline chart is simple, and it only contains a few elements which are listed below. Take note that missing even one of these would already make your timeline inefficient as one is as important as the rest.
1. Horizontal Bar: A long horizontal line at the center of the page is where all the other elements of your timeline chart will root from. This line indicates where your focal point will be. This is useful when pointing out the relationships of your events or tasks.
2. Tasks or Events: These are the details that are labeled along every time period. It is anything that happens or needs to be accomplished in a project.
3. Dates of Tasks: The specific dates of occurrence of your events or tasks. These dates are labeled in the horizontal center line of your timeline chart.
4. Duration of Tasks: This depicts how long the events or tasks will run. They are represented by vertical bars or horizontal blocks depending on the type of your timeline chart.
5. Dependencies between Tasks: This means how each event or task is related to each other. Your timeline must be able to depict whether an event is a prerequisite or completely independent with another event, as it will help the people from your team to know which goes on top of their priority and which tasks can be done at a later point in time.
Various ways exist to come up with a timeline chart and it ultimately depends on how you want it to look in the end. You can even use a software program for you to instantly create a blank timeline chart. However, if you want more flexibility with the look and feel like starting from scratch, the following steps details the processes involved in making a basic timeline chart that you can edit out with ease.
1. Come up with an apt title and description of your timeline chart: Start your timeline chart by naming it with an appropriate title and a short description. These should be able to identify the project that your timeline illustrates and gives a little bit of context for the readers before they delve in to the details of your chart.
2. Start with a center line: Make a horizontal line or bar at the center of the page. Identify the start date and end date of your project and place them respectively at the left and right ends of the line. Be specific and consistent with the time segment of your project that you will be illustrating in your timeline chart.
3. Set your timeline’s scale: Compartmentalize the horizontal line or bar into equal sections. Indicate the division with a small vertical line or bar. Come up with a reasonable scale for your timeline, like if it covers a year then it would be wise to divide it according to months, or if it is for a week then you can divide it by day. Each of your division will represent a significant event or events that transpired for that particular time.
4. Add the events: Now that your outline is finished, start writing the important events that happened and place them to their corresponding time segment. Each segment should have a title and a short description that consists of one or two sentences that describe the event. Encase each description in boxes and connect them to their respective segment with a line and a dot at each end.
Timeline chart templates follow the standard sizes used in formal business documents. This means that they can be on papers with the dimensions of 8.5 inches by 14 inches (US Legal), 8.5 inches by 11 inches (US Letter), or 8.27 inches by 11.69 inches (A4).
SmartDraw, Microsoft Project, TimeGlider, and Prezi are four of the most popular programs you can use to create your timeline chart. Template.net also has a variety of templates and examples that you can easily edit out.
Gantt charts are popular in business planning for a lot of reasons. These charts allow you to see the start and end dates of each task and consequently how long they should take to be completed, indicate to whom each task is assigned, determine which tasks are occurring simultaneously, and discern which tasks are dependent upon predecessors.
An overcrowded timeline may also indicate that the scale of the timeline is too small. If you find yourself not getting enough space for you to completely illustrate your timeline, then help yourself with an extra sheet or two. There is nothing more uninviting than a messy and crowded timeline. Remember that your goal is to have a clear visual representation of a series of events to help everyone in your team achieve the success you are all rooting for.