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Birds on a Wire Chart

How to create a birds on a wire chart from Microsoft Project

Birds on a wire chart are a type of project timeline layout where multiple key milestones are lined up left-to-right in seqeuence on top of a bar that represents the overall duration. Leading PMOs worldwide depend on OnePager Pro to create their birds on a wire charts from Microsoft Project, Project Server, and Project Online.

Birds on a wire chart showing multiple milestones sitting on top of a task in the single timeline row.

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OnePager Pro imports your tasks and milestones from Microsoft Project, and then uses the WBS to automatically place related tasks and milestones into a single row so that you don't have to drag shapes up and down manually: Download a 15-day free trial to see how it works. Here's how to get started:

  1. Open your Microsoft Project plan, or download ours below. In the downloadable example below, we have three phases of a project, each with the same milestones or "Gates":

    Microsoft Project plan with tasks and milestones.

Download Birds on a Wire.mpp

  1. Once you've opened the Microsoft Project plan, insert a flag field like Flag20 and place a "Yes" to the tasks and milestones that you want to include in your chart. In our example, we have placed a yes next to all of our summary tasks, which will act as the "wire" and all of our key milestones, which will act as the "birds". However, if your Microsoft Project file is larger, you might choose to select a smaller set of tasks and milestones:

    Select summary tasks as the wires and milestones as the birds.

  2. To turn your Microsoft Project plan into a birds on a wire chart, go to Project's Add-Ins tab and click the OnePager Pro button:

    Launch OnePager Pro to build a Gantt chart from Microsoft Project.

  3. Click NEW to start build a new project timeline. When the import wizard appears, give your chart a name and then go to Change > Browse Files to change your template to the Birds on a Wire template that is specifically designed for these types of charts:

    Birds on a Wire Template.

  4. Click Create New Chart and you'll get a simple birds on a wire chart like this:

    Birds on a Wire Chart created from Microsoft Project

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More Customizations

The birds on a wire chart that we created above is a great start, but it's realy only the beginning. OnePager Pro gives you lots of flexibility when it comes to the colors, shapes, and layout of your chart. In this next section, we'll demonstrate how easy it is to customize how your birds on a wire chart looks:

  1. We can assign a unique color and shape to each milestone in the chart so that the same type of milestone is easy to identify throughout the project. To do this, we'll first turn off the colors that are already there by going to Home > Chart Properties > Task Bars. Change the default color of tasks and milestones in the chart to gray, like this:

    Remove colors from a birds on a wire chart.

    Once the default color is set to gray, look towards the bottom of the same form where there is a section for Conditional Formatting and click the Manage Rules button.

  2. You can set up conditional formatting rules that look at the name of each milestone and assign a unique color and symbol to each one:

    Assign colors and symbols to a birds on a wire chart

    Here, "Gate A" is a red triangle, "Gate B" is a yellow star, "Gate C" is a green diamond, and "Gate D" is a blue circle. Feel free to adjust these rules to meet your team's specific needs.

  3. Click OK, and then OK again, and you will see OnePager apply those conditional formatting rules to your birds on a wire chart so that each type of milestone is set apart from the others:

    Birds on a wire chart with custom colors and shapes for each type of milestone

  4. Maybe we want to make the wires slightly smaler so they look more like lines instead of rectangles. To do this, go back to Home > Chart Properties > Task Bars. Reduce the height of your task bars, and also turn off the task labels, since the names of your phases are already on the left-hand side of the chart in the swimlanes anyway:

    Reduce height of bars in a Gantt chart and turn off task names.

  5. Click OK again, and OnePager will instantly make these changes to your birds on a wire chart:

    Birds on a wire chart with smaller wires.

OnePager Pro is the easiest way to build a birds on a wire chart from your Microsoft Project plan, and the number of customizations you can make are practically endless.

Get started today by downloading a free trial.

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