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Hourly Timeline of Multiple Projects

If you manage multiple short-term projects, see how you can combine all of your projects into a single timeline for better visibility hour-by-hour.

Hourly timeline of multiple projects.

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OnePager Pro lets you combine multiple hourly Microsoft Project plans into a single timeline view in just a few minutes. Here's how:

Simple Instructions

These instructions are designed for people who haven't already created their own Microsoft Project plans. You can use our sample Microsoft Project plans, all of which track hourly tasks, as a starting point to build your first timeline.

  1. Start by downloading these three sample files to your downloads folder or to your desktop. The two Microsoft Project files contain the hourly project tasks, and the *.tat file is the OnePager template that will drive the formatting of the hourly timeline you're about to create.

      Hourly Project A.mpp (First Microsoft Project File)
      Hourly Project B.mpp (Second Microsoft Project File)
      Hourly Multi-Project Timeline.tat (OnePager Template)

  1. Open the first Microsoft Project file that you just downloaded. From Project's Add-Ins tab, click the OnePager Pro button:

    OnePager Pro add-in launch from MS Project.

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

    OnePager Pro start screen.

  3. On the next screen, you should see that Hourly Project A is already loaded. To add the second project, click on Add/Remove, and when the Data Source Selection screen appears, click on Add > BROWSE FILES, and go get the Hourly Project B file that you also downloaded to your desktop or downloads folder:

    Import a second Microsoft Project plan into your hourly project timeline.

  4. Now, locate the Starting Template section, and go to Change > BROWSE FILES. Browse to your desktop or downloads folder again and select the Hourly Multi-Project Timeline.tat template that you downloaded in step #1:

    Change your OnePager template.

  5. With your two hourly Microsoft Project plans loaded and your OnePager template selected, click Create new chart. OnePager will import the hourly tasks from both of your Microsoft Project plans and create an hourly multi-project timeline in just a few seconds:

    Hourly Timeline of Multiple Projects

Now that you've done this, you can go back to Microsoft Project and adjust the project plans to match dates and times of your own projects. Once you've done this, follow the same steps again with your updated Microsoft Project files, and you'll be in great shape!

This hourly multi-project timeline includes the following features:

  • Days and hours shown on the time axis. You can adjust this to show quarter hours as well.
  • Only working time is displayed. If a task starts late on one day and finishes early on the next, it will only show the actual working duration as a few hours, not as taking place overnight. OnePager has automatically hidden nights and weekends so that only active shifts appear on the timeline.
  • Each phase of the project has its own row in the chart. Tasks that are a part of the same phase are sequenced left-to-right in time order to create a timeline layout.
  • Project phases are grouped together into swimlanes, so the first project is grouped together followed by a second swimlane for the second project.
  • Each task in the project is automatically assigned a different color. You have the ability to change color assignments however you'd like.
  • When space is tight in your timeline, OnePager automatically optimizes the names of your tasks so that the text fits and remains legible.
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Detailed Instructions

These instructions are designed for people who have already built one or more hourly project plans in Microsoft Project and would like to import what they already have into a OnePager timeline. These instructions also provide more details about customization along the way.

  1. Let's start with an hourly Microsoft Project plan. In this example, we'll import Hourly Project A and Hourly Project B which are separate *.mpp files. Notice that our example Hourly Project A tracks both dates and times. We've also inserted Flag 20 to filter which tasks should be included in the timeline, and which should not:

    Hourly Microsoft Project plan

    Our example Hourly Project B has a similar layout.

  2. Go to the Add-Ins tab in Microsoft Project and click the OnePager Pro button.

    OnePager Pro add-in launch from MS Project.

  3. On the start screen, click New to begin building a new timeline of your hourly projects.

    OnePager Pro start screen.

  4. On the next screen, the first Hourly Project A is already loaded. To add more projects, click on Add/Remove, and when the Data Source Selection screen appears, click on Add > BROWSE FILES, and go get the other projects that you would like to import.

    Import a second Microsoft Project plan into your hourly project timeline.

    Import as many projects as you'd like, and then click OK when you are finished building your list of hourly project plans.

  5. Back on the previous screen, give your timeline a name, and then click Create New Chart;

    Create a new timeline chart in OnePager.

  6. Initially, the chart won't show much hourly detail. In the next few steps, we'll walk you through how to achieve the layout that you need. To get started with customizing your hourly project timeline, go to Home > Chart Properties > Advanced. Turn on the Format with Times checkbox, which will convert your timeline from day-by-day reporting to hour-by-hour reporting. We'll also change the Task/Milestone Threshold to zero days, which will enable us to show tasks that are only a few hours in duration. Once you've made both changes, click Apply, but don't click OK yet.

    Switch from a daily project timeline to an hourly project timeline.

  7. With the Chart Properties form still open, go from the Advanced tab to the Time Axis tab. Change the start and finish dates of your timeline to show a few days or a few hours instead of entire months or years, which will make it easier to see task detail down to the minute, if needed:

    Reduce the window of your timeline by changing the start and finish times.

  8. Click OK, and your chart will begin to look like an hourly project plan:

    Hourly Gantt chart.

  9. Remember that we've imported data from two separate hourly project plans. Right now, the chart jumbles both projects together, and we want to segment the chart with swimlanes so that each subproject has its own grouping in the chart. To do this, go to Home > Chart Properties > Rows/Swimlanes. We're going to set our first set of swimlanes to look at the Project Name:

    Parent swimlanes based on the Project Name

  10. We want to add a second set of sub-swimlanes that looks at the phases of each project. To create a child swimlane, click on the Left #2 tab, and set your secondary swimlanes to look at the Level 1 Summary Name which corresponds to the summary tasks back in Microsoft Project:

    Child swimlanes based on the summary tasks in Microsoft Project

  11. With both the parent swimlanes and the child swimlanes set up, click OK, and watch OnePager regroup your Gantt chart first by the project name, and then by the Microsoft Project phases:

    Hourly Gantt Chart with Parent Swimlanes based on the Project Name and Child Swimlanes (Sub-Swimlanes) based on the Microsoft Project Summary Tasks.

  12. Now, let's change the layout of the report from a Gantt chart to a timeline, so that we can have multiple tasks lined up left-to-right in a single row, instead of the waterfall layout that we have right now. We'll return to Home > Chart Properties > Rows/Swimlanes and change the Task Layout from Gantt Chart to Timeline and set it so that tasks align based on the Level 1 Summary Name:

    Switch from a Gantt chart layout to a timeline layout.

  13. Click OK, and OnePager will rearrange your chart so that each phase of each subproject is compressed down to a single row:

    Timeline layout from Microsoft Project.

    When switching from a Gantt chart to a timeline, you sometimes need to increase the height of each remaining row in your chart so that your task names will be easier to read. This isn't required, but if you find that you need a little extra space, you can increase your default row height under Home > Chart Properties > Page Layout. This will automatically increase the height of all of the rows in your timeline, instead of just one at a time.

  14. This is starting to look pretty good, but notice that the time axis along the top of the chart still shows units of year, quarter and month. For a project that only lasts a few hours or a few days, this really doesn't give us enough detail, so we should change it. Go to Home > Chart Properties > Time Axis. Adjust the Top Level tab to show the month, the Middle Level tab to show the day, and the Bottom Level tab to show hourly detail. We'll also make the Bottom Level tab a little taller so that the timestamps are easier to read:

    Change the time axis of a project timeline from years, quarters, and months, to months, days, and hours:

  15. This looks quite a bit better. We can now see every hour of the project, so it's very easy to tell when a task begins or ends:

    Timeline of multiple projects with hourly task detail.

  16. The duration of Task 7 from Hourly Project A, however, is a little misleading. If you look at this task back in Microsoft Project, it starts at 4:30 PM on Wednesday, and then finishes the following Thursday morning at 8:30 AM. The task itself is only an hour long, but because that hour is split across two working days, the task looks like it is going to take a lot more effort, because it happens to span the overnight non-working hours. We can eliminate non-working hours from the chart to show a more accurate representation of the work that's taking place.

    To remove non-working hours from the timeline, go to Home > Chart Properties > Time Axis and click on the Format sub-tab. Locate the Show Non-Working Hours box and turn it off:

    Remove non-working hours from the project timeline.

  17. Click OK one final time, and OnePager will redraw the timeline so that only working hours are shown. This eliminates the overnight gap that was causing Task 7 to look too long, and you'll now see that it looks much more reasonable:

    Timeline of multiple hourly projects that only shows working hours.

    Sometimes, when you remove nights and weekends from your timeline, you'll find that the remaining chart is a lot narrower than it was before. This is because a lot of the chart width was allotted to nights and weekends, and is no longer showing. If your chart looks too narrow, you can always increase the width under Home > Chart Properties > Page Layout by adjusting the Document Width to something that looks good. When you do this, the width of the document will now be entirely based on working time, as opposed to a 24-hour clock, which was the case originally.

Try OnePager Pro timeline software today by downloading a free trial.

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