Phase Gate Timelines from Microsoft Project or Excel

Many of our OnePager users are now building what they call “Phase Gate Timelines,” where they take key milestones from their plans and line them up left-to-right in sequence for an abbreviated, but informative look at multiple projects:

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OnePager can build a phase gate timeline from either Microsoft Project or Excel, as the data you need is pretty similar:

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We do have a Microsoft Project template and an Excel template that you can download for free if you would like to use one of our samples as a starting point.

Once you have your list of phases ready go to, click the OnePager button from Microsoft Project or Excel. When the start screen appears, choose the NEW option to get started. On the import wizard, click the Change button to select one of our “Milestone View” templates, which is going to have most of your settings pre-configured:

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When you click the Create new project view button, OnePager will import your data from Microsoft Project or Excel and create a milestone report like this initially:

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From here, we want to make a few changes to turn this into a true phase gate timeline. The first change we’ll make is to line all of the phases up left-to-right so that we have a timeline instead of a Gantt chart. To go this, go to Home > Project View Properties > Rows/Swimlanes and change the Rows setting to Collect tasks into rows by “Level 1 Summary Name” in the case of Microsoft Project, or “Project Name” in the case of Excel:

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Next, we’ll set up a few conditional formatting rules to assign different symbols and colors to each phase gate. Go down to the Milestones tab and click on the Manage Rules button to set up your rules as follows:

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These rules will make your phase gates take on different shapes and colors automatically based on their names. Click OK once, but stay on the Milestones tab. Our final change is to turn off Milestone Labels and to turn on Date Labels in their place, so that we can see exactly when each phase gate occurs:

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If you need to, you can click the Date Label Properties button to customize the date format, font size, and position. Otherwise, click OK to see the final phase gate timeline:

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One nice thing about phase gate timelines is that they’re pretty compact, meaning that you can import lots of milestones across multiple projects and still have your report fit on only one or two PowerPoint slides.

This entry was posted in Excel Tips, Project Reporting, Project Visualization by Safford. Bookmark the permalink.

About Safford

Safford is a versatile technology professional with a solid history of empowering emerging growth companies in a broad array of industries. His employment history includes energy industry consulting at Quorum Software, Senior Manager of Client Services and Technical Sales at telecom service aggregator GetConnected, and Vice President of Strategic Partner Management at electronic payment processor IP Commerce. Prior to his tenure as OnePager's COO, Safford was the company's Vice President of Marketing and Alliances. Safford holds a BA in Psychology and management from Rice University.

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