One of our most common requests from new OnePager Pro users is how to create compact, concise, phase-by-phase timelines like this one:
Users like this format because it aligns phases sequentially in the same row, instead of staggering them in a waterfall format like a traditional Gantt chart. We’ll walk you through a step-by-step approach to creating reports in this format, starting with a simple Microsoft Project plan:
This plan contains four subprojects, each with three key phases underneath. In this example, we’re using a single Microsoft Project file, but you can achieve the same results using an integrated master schedule that rolls up several independent project plans.
To get started, insert a flag field to select the phases that you want to import into OnePager Pro. Notice that you do not need to import the parent projects themselves; OnePager Pro can do this for you without flagging:
Go to Microsoft Project’s Add-Ins tab, and click the OnePager Pro button to start building your report. For starters, you’ll get something very traditional like this:
Our first change will be to line the phases up left-to-right by project to create more of a timeline. To do this, go to Home >Project View Properties >Rows/Swimlanes. By default, OnePager Pro places one task per row. We want to change this to Collect tasks into rows by “Level 1 summary name”, which is the top-level summary task in the Microsoft Project plan. This means that any tasks rolling up to the same parent task will appear in the same row.
We recommend leaving the Collect tasks automatically option selected. This will place as many tasks as possible in the same row, but will automatically create additional space for tasks that overlap each other. If you have tasks that overlap and still want them to appear in the same row, choose Collect up to “x” tasks per row instead, and set the counter to a high number like 10 or 20.
Before closing Project View Properties, we want to make sure that our task labels are positioned cleanly so that they don’t sit on top of each other in the new horizontal layout. To do this, go to the Task Bars tab, click the Gantt Bar Label Properties button, and ensure that your labels are positioned at the Center:
Now, click OK twice, and you’ll see a much cleaner looking timeline:
The next step is to color-code the timeline. Since the phase names repeat from project to project, it’s easy to have everything in the “Design” phase be the same color, and so forth. This can be done automatically through OnePager’s conditional formatting tool. Go back to Home >Project View Properties >Task Bars and click the Manage Rules button at the bottom. We’ll set up three simple conditional formatting rules to assign colors by phase name:
Clicking OK one more time, you’ll get a color-coded timeline that makes it very easy to see where each phase starts and stops:
In this example, we ended up turning off the task labels altogether, since they’re better represented in the legend at the bottom-right. You can choose to leave them on or off, depending on how you want your timeline to look.
Do you need more help customizing a phase-by-phase timeline for your portfolio of projects? Leave your question in the comments section below and we’ll be happy to help.