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Project timeline templates: 5 simple and adaptable examples

Last updated on
September 18, 2019

Every solid project plan has a project timeline. These timelines visually translate project work into a coordinated set of actions with defined durations and deadlines. They’re great for communicating progress with stakeholders and essential for delivering big, long-term projects—helping teams stay aligned and on-task. To streamline your planning, we’ve pulled together a selection of simple project timeline templates, from no-frills solutions that do one thing really well, to sophisticated all-rounders.  

What to look for in a project timeline

There is a surprising amount of diversity among project timelines. The best template solution for you will depend on your purpose, how you like to visualize data and how much detail you require. Different templates vary in their level of sophistication for satisfying these main capabilities:

Planning: Project timelines help establish the parameters of your project, laying out phase size, project scope and required resources required. They are a neat space to map out everything that needs to happen on your project.
Chronology: Your timeline should plot project events in chronological sequence, lining up dates and events with actions, tasks and sub-tasks. By viewing how many actions are required, you can begin to account for the time budget you need to complete the project.
Visualization: Project timelines provide a useful visual for tracking and reporting on progress – listing past, present and future steps. If you intend to use your timeline to update stakeholders and clients, make sure visuals are easy to digest.
Resource management: Once you’ve worked out all required tasks and deadlines, you can use your timeline to assign them to individuals. Usability plays an important factor here—some timeline templates are more intuitive and easy for scheduling project tasks than others.

5 simple project timeline templates

1. Excel

Excel project timeline

Excel comes with a range of no-frills project timeline templates, offering the familiarity of easy-to-read spreadsheet and flexible customization. You can link chart data tables, so your timeline adjusts itself to any new data you plug in, and it’s easy to delete and edit tasks from spreadsheet rows. While it’s not the most sophisticated, fool-proof or time-efficient project timeline template going, it does the job if you’re just after a bare bones solution.

Good for: planning

2. Office

Office project timeline

Office’s timeline templates were designed for project managers wanting to project plans for clients and stakeholders. Using PowerPoint, you can build and manage project slides in minutes and use your project plan as a starting point to create tasks and actions. Your plans can be manually entered into this project plan template’s placeholders or you can instantly update it with Office Timeline, a free project planning add-in for PowerPoint.

Good for: visualization

3. Wrike

Wrike project timeline

Wrike’s Gantt Chart timeline template is a lot more refined, allowing you to view your upcoming project schedule from one colourful space. You can easily adjust items, generate instant management visuals, turn your timeline into actionable plans and generate real-time reports based on your timeline – helping you coordinate a project’s progress as you move through it.

Good for: planning, chronology, visualization, delegation

4. Template Lab

Template lab project timeline

Template Lab’s PowerPoint template is a cross between a traditional chronological timeline and a project-driven one. It provides visibility into a project’s time scale while also depicting project phase length. Here, everyone within the team can visualize how far along they are within a phase, as well as how much time they have left to complete remaining tasks.

Good for: Chronology, Visualization

5. Zoho

Zoho project timeline

Zoho’s project timeline template allows you to visualize deadlines, dates and plans, offering tools to quickly shorten and extend timelines as plans and availability change. You can also move them to a different date or month. Begin by creating new tasks, assigning users, and defining the start and end dates. Upcoming project timeline tasks will be visible in a separate column.

Good for: planning, chronology, visualization, delegation

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