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Phase Gate Timelines in Excel

How to build a phase gate timeline using Excel and OnePager Express

If you track key project milestones or phase gates in an Excel spreadsheet, you need a way to present them in a clear, consise report. OnePager Express can take the key milestones from your Excel spreadsheet and turn it into a phase gate timeline in just a few steps.

Project phase gate report created in Excel

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  1. To begin, set up an Excel spreadsheet to track your key phase gates. Your spreadsheet doesn't have to be identical to this one, though this example is nice because it shows you how to track phase gates across multiple projects at once:

    Microsoft Excel Plan

  2. You can build your phase gate timeline using your entire spreadsheet, or you can include an "Show It" column as we did to select only the key phase gates we want to report on:

    Microsoft Excel Plan with filter column

  3. To convert your spreadsheet into a phase gate timeline, double-click the OnePager Express icon on your desktop. When the Start screen appears, click the NEW button. Then, choose your Excel spreadsheet as the source file for your project timeline.

    OnePager Express source file selection.

  4. Then, on the import screen, click the Change button to select our "Multi-Project Milestone Chart" template as a starting point. Then give your phase gate timeline a name and a snapshot/status date:

    OnePager Express Wizard

  5. Click Next > and then the Create new chart button, and you'll start out with a milestone report like this:

    Project Milestone Chart

  6. Now, we'll make a few cosmetic changes. First, we'll turn the diamond symbols into numbered milestones for each phase gate. To go this, go to Home > Chart Properties > Milestones and click on the Manage Rules button at the bottom. We'll add a rule to assign a unique symbol and color for each type of phase gate:

    Conditional Formatting

  7. Back on the Milestones tab, we're going to turn off milestone labels (they're repetitive) and show the dates for phase gates instead. To change the font, format, or position of date labels, you can click the Date Label Properties button.

    Show Dates for Phase Gates

  8. Click OK. The new symbols, colors and dates are in place, but are a little hard to read, so we'll make one more edit.

    Phase Gate Timeline

  9. Our final change will be to align all of the phase gates up by project so that we have multiple milestones on one line. To do this, go to Home > Chart Properties > Rows/Swimlanes. We want to change the Rows setting at the top to Timeline (multiple tasks per row) and choosing "Project Name" in the Align tasks on dropdown. This will put all of the phase gates for a single project in one row:

    Line up key phases project-by-project

  10. Click OK one final time and you'll see everything lined up correctly:

    Phase gate timeline created in OnePager Express

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