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Multi-Phase Timelines from Microsoft Project

Using OnePager Pro to create a phase-by-phase timeline of one or multiple project plans

If you use Microsoft Project, you know that it's not easy to show a high-level overview of your key project phases without creating a complicated Gantt chart. With OnePager Pro, you can import one or more projects into a simple phase-by-phase timeline.

Timelines in OnePager Pro are easy to create, easy to maintain, and easy to understand:
Phase-by-Phase Portfolio Report

Executives like this format because it aligns phases sequentially in the same row, instead of staggering them in a waterfall format like a traditional Gantt chart. We'll walk you through a step-by-step approach to creating reports in this format, starting with a simple Microsoft Project plan:
Microsoft Project Plan

This plan contains four subprojects, each with the same three phases. In this example, we're using a single Microsoft Project file, but you can use an integrated master schedule (IMS) if you want to link multiple MS Project plans together.

  1. To get started, insert a flag column (we used "Flag 20" below) to select the phases that you want to import into OnePager Pro. You don't need to select the project summary tasks in this example.
    Microsoft Project Plan with Flag Field
  2. To start building your timeline in OnePager Pro, double-click the OnePager Pro icon on your desktop. When the Start screen appears, click the NEW Project View button.
  3. Choose your Microsoft Project plan as the source file for your OnePager Gantt chart.
    OnePager Pro source file selection.
  4. In the import wizard that launches, give your timeline a name, and specify today's date as your snapshot or status date:
    OnePager Pro Timeline Creation Wizard
  5. When you click the Create new project view button, you'll start out with a very traditional Gantt chart like this:
    Gantt chart with key project phases
  6. Our first change will be to line the phases up left-to-right by project to create more of a timeline instead of a Gantt chart. To do this, go to Home >Project View Properties >Rows/Swimlanes. By default, OnePager Pro places one task per row. We want to change this to Collect tasks into rows by "Level 1 summary name", which is the top-level summary task in the Microsoft Project plan. This means that any phases belonging to the same project will line up in the same row automatically.
    Line up key phases project-by-project
  7. Before closing Project View Properties, we want to make sure that our task labels are positioned cleanly so that they don't sit on top of each other in the new horizontal timeline layout. To do this, go to the Task Bars tab, click the Gantt Bar Label Properties button, and make sure that your labels are set to the Center position:
    Center phase names on the timeline for a cleaner layout
  8. Now, click OK twice, and you'll see a much cleaner looking timeline:
    Project timeline with key phases lined up left-to-right
  9. The next step is to color-code the timeline. Since the same phase names appear in each project, it's easy to have each phase appear in a different color. OnePager's conditional formatting tool is the fastest way to do this. Go back to Home >Project View Properties >Task Bars and click the Manage Rules button at the bottom. We'll set up three simple conditional formatting rules to assign colors by phase name:
    Use conditional formatting to color-code the timeline by phase
  10. Clicking OK again, you'll see a color-coded timeline that makes it very easy to distinguish one phase from another:
    Multi-phased project timeline with a unique color for each phase

In this example, we ended up turning off the phase names completely, since they're already showing in the legend at the bottom. You can choose to label phases or not, depending on how you want your timeline to look.

Get started today by downloading a free trial or attending one of our demonstration webinars.

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