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Creating Primavera Timelines using Excel and OnePager Express

How to create project timelines and reports from Primavera P6 project plans

Do you use Oracle Primavera P6 to build and track project schedules? Do you need create reports on your P6 project plan in a timeline or Gantt chart without redrawing everything by hand in PowerPoint or Visio?

OnePager Express from Chronicle Graphics can import your Primavera P6 project plan and create rich, dynamic timelines and project reports in no time at all. To follow along, you can download a 15-day free trial of OnePager Express to see how it works.

Primavera P6 report with a separate timeline for each WBS level of the project schedule.

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Here's how to get started:

  1. Open your project plan in Primavera P6, as shown below. The default Gantt chart in Primavera P6 is difficult to read, and doesn't do a good job of summarizing your project plan:

    Oracle Primavera P6 project plan, complete with the standard timeline.

  2. Export your Primavera P6 project schedule to Excel by going to File > Export. OnePager Express will be able to import your project plan once it is converted to an Excel format. For the Export Type, choose Spreadsheet - (XLSX) and click Next:

    Export from Primavera P6 into an Excel format.

  3. OnePager is going to import your activities from Primavera P6 for the timeline, so on the next screen, choose an Export Type of Activities, and then click Next:

    Export activities from Primavera P6 into an Excel (XLSX) format.

  4. On the next screen, Primavera P6 asks which project(s) you want to export. Each of these will be exported to a separate Excel file. For this example, we'll just export one Primavera P6 schedule and then click Next again:

    Select the project(s) that you want to export from Primavera P6 into Excel

  5. Primavera P6 gives you lots of options when you export to Excel. OnePager Express is pretty flexible, and can work with whatever data you decide to export from P6. We recommend exporting "Activity ID," "Activity Name," "Start" and "Finish," at minimum. In the example below, you'll see that you can include additional information from your P6 project plan as well. Specifically, we'll also include the "Project Name" and the "WBS Name" as these fields are good for grouping and sorting.

    Set an export template to pull relevant columns from your Primavera P6 project into your project timeline.

    In this case, we created a "OnePager Express" template to use with future Primavera P6 exports. Click OK once you have the fields that you need.

  6. Click Next again until you get to the final screen and then click Finish to complete the export from Primavera P6 to Excel.

  7. Once you have exported your P6 plan, open it in Excel, and it should look similar to the example below. This spreadsheet has been formatted a little to make it easier to read, but the default Primavera P6 export will work fine, too:

    Excel export from Oracle Primavera P6.

    We normally follow Primavera's recommendation to delete the second row of column headings so that each field from P6 only has one name instead of two.

  8. Next, click the OnePager Express icon on the Add-Ins tab of Excel. From the Start screen that appears, choose New. Your Excel export from Primavera P6 will be the source file for your timeline:

    The redesigned OnePager Express import wizard makes it easy to take a Primavera P6 project and build a full-color project timeline.

    OnePager Express gives you the ability to give your project report a name, and to specify a snapshot or status date. As you update your Primavera P6 plan in future weeks or months, you can update your OnePager Express chart with a new snapshot of your project.

  9. Click Next, and the second page of the wizard will let you choose which fields from Primavera P6 you would like to use in your OnePager Express timeline:

    Map your Primavera P6 columns into OnePager Express to create a data-driven timeline.

  10. Click the Create new chart button, and OnePager Express will create a dynamic Gantt Chart based on the data you exported from Primavera P6:

    Primavera P6 Gantt Chart: This project Gantt Chart was created with OnePager Express software based on a project plan from Oracle Primavera P6.

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Converting from Gantt Chart Layout to Timeline Layout

The example above is more of a Gantt chart layout. If you would like to create a true timeline for your Primavera P6 project, follow these remaining steps.

  1. To create a timeline where all tasks for the project are lined up left-to-right, go to Home > Chart Properties > Rows/Swimlanes. Switch to a Timeline Layout based on the project name ("project__proj_name") field, and ensure your swimlanes are grouped the same way:

    Create a timeline with all tasks for a project lined up left-to-right.

  2. Click OK, and OnePager Express will regroup and resort the activities from Primavera P6 into a single timeline, aligned left-to-right:

    Primavera P6 timeline with all tasks for a project aligned left-to-right in a single row.

  3. You can also create a hybrid Gantt Chart-Timeline layout where each phase of your project gets its own swimlane, but all of the tasks within each phase are aligned left-to-right like a timeline. To do this, return to Home > Chart Properties > Rows/Swimlanes. Switch your Timeline Layout and and your Swimlanes to be based on the WBS parent task ("wbs_name") field instead of based on the project name:

    Change your OnePager chart to group and sort based on the WBS Name instead of the Project Name

  4. Click OK again, and OnePager Express will realign the activities in your chart so that each section of your schedule gets its own timeline, with segmentation based on the WBS that you exported from Primavera P6:

    Primavera P6 report with a separate timeline for each WBS level of the project schedule.

OnePager Express is the easiest way to summarize or present a Primavera P6 project in a simple timeline view. Because OnePager Express is a data-driven application, there are endless possibilities as to the types of timelines you can create from your Primavera P6 project plan.

Get started today by downloading a free trial.

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