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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, concise 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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To create a phase gate timeline of your own project in Excel, download the free trial of OnePager Express using the button above, and then follow either our simple or detailed instructions below:

Simple Instructions

These instructions are designed for people don't already have a product development plan in Excel. You can use our example Excel plan as a starting point and follow these abbreviated steps to create your chart in a matter of minutes.

  1. Start by downloading these two sample files to your downloads folder or to your desktop. The Excel file contains the names and dates for each phase date, and the *.tat file is the OnePager template that will drive the formatting of the timeline you're about to create.

      Phase Gate Timeline.xlsx (Excel File)
      Phase Gate Timeline - Excel.tat (OnePager Template)

  1. Open the Excel file that you just downloaded. From Excel's Add-Ins tab, click the OnePager Express button:

    OnePager Express add-in launch from Excel.

  2. On the Start screen, click NEW to begin building a new timeline:

    OnePager Express start screen.

  3. On the next screen, locate the Starting Template section, and go to Change > BROWSE FILES. Browse to your desktop or downloads folder and select the Phase Gate Timeline - Excel.tat that you downloaded in step #1:

    Change your OnePager template.

  4. With your Excel file loaded and your OnePager template selected, click Next, and then on the following screen, click Create new chart. OnePager will import the data from your Excel file and create a phase gate timeline in just a few seconds:

    Project phase gate report created in Excel

Now that you've done this, you can go back to Excel and adjust the spreadsheet to match the names and dates of your real-world phase gates. Once you've done this, follow the same steps again with your updated Excel file, and you'll be in good shape! 15-Day
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Detailed Instructions

These instructions are designed for people who have already built a list of phase gate milestones in Excel and just need to import what they already have into OnePager. These instructions also provide more details about customizations that you can make to your timeline.

  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

Get started today by downloading a free trial.

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