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Simplify Large Projects with a Gantt Chart Summary using OnePager Pro

How to represent the history of a project as a Gantt chart

It is difficult to summarize a complex project into a simple presentation for senior management or customers, especially when there are many tasks, complex dependencies, long task durations, or interconnected resources.

Project plan development: A refreshed view of a Microsoft Project plan created using OnePager Pro.

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OnePager Pro, presentation software for Microsoft Project, solves this problem by allowing project managers to represent groups of tasks as a single summary task, creating a “roll-up” of subordinate tasks for presentation purposes. OnePager Pro also allows project managers to take snapshots of a project throughout the lifecycle.

If you don't already have OnePager Pro, download a free trial and follow along with this tutorial.

  1. First, let’s create a view of a complex project. Begin by starting Microsoft Project and flagging the tasks or milestones you want to include in your summary. In this case, we used Flag 1, but you can use any flag column:
    Microsoft Project plan, flagged for import into OnePager Pro.
  2. Next, double-click the OnePager Pro icon on your desktop. From the Start screen that appears, choose New.
    OnePager Pro Start screen.
  3. Choose your Microsoft Project plan as the source file for your OnePager Gantt chart.
    OnePager Pro source file selection.
  4. OnePager will open a wizard to help you summarize your project. Give your chart a name, and specify a snapshot/status date for your project. Notice that you also have an option to filter your tasks, as we are doing here with Flag1.
    OnePager Pro redesigned import wizard filters tasks from a Microsoft Project schedule.
  5. Click the Create new chart button and you'll see a Gantt chart that looks like this:
    Gantt chart created in OnePager Pro using data from Microsoft Project. This project summary groups each task into phases, color-codes by resources, and shows the percent complete for each deliverable. The dotted line in the middle is the snapshot/status date for the project.
  6. The project summary above is pretty straightforward, but it can be made even simpler. Let's say you want to only have one summary line per phase. This is easy with OnePager Pro's virtual summary task. Just select the tasks you want to summarize with your mouse, right-click, and choose Make into virtual summary task as shown below:
    Easily roll multiple tasks up into a single Gantt bar.
  7. Once you've summarized each phase, you can crop out unused rows and change the size of the Gantt chart to fit your new timeline. When finished, you'll get something like this:
    Summary-level project plan built using OnePager Pro. You can now take this OnePager chart and copy and paste it into a PowerPoint for review by senior executives or clients.
  8. The next really powerful feature of OnePager Pro is the ability to update your Gantt chart whenever your project schedule changes. This keeps you from having to rebuild timelines by hand each time you need to make a new presentation. To do this, make some changes to your Microsoft Project schedule. Then, launch OnePager again. This time, from the Start screen, choose Update instead of New. Select your saved chart as the file you want to refresh. Then fill out the wizard shown below, building a NEW snapshot:
    Easily update an earlier Gantt chart with a refreshed view of your Microsoft Project plan.
  9. Give your chart's new snapshot a status date as shown above and click New. When you do this, OnePager Pro will refresh your Gantt chart with the latest Microsoft Project data:
    Project plan development: A refreshed view of a Microsoft Project plan created using OnePager Pro. Notice that the time cursor has moved from December to January. The percent complete values have also changed from one monthly snapshot to the next.
  10. OnePager Pro's snapshots make it easy to update your project reports from one meeting to the next. You can also browse through previous snapshots to see how your project has changed over time. This is a great tool for post-mortems or for understanding what has changed from one week to the next. To switch between snapshots, you can use the navigation controls on the toolbar as shown below:
    Navigate between versions of your schedule using OnePager Pro. You can also pick the snapshot you want to view by going to View > List All and selecting the status date of your project:
    Select a date-specific status of your project using OnePager Pro.

Snapshots save you time in updating your Gantt charts, but also make it very easy to track changes to your project schedule. You can create as many snapshots as you'd like with whatever frequency (e.g. monthly, weekly, etc.) makes the most sense.

This article shows you how you can use OnePager Pro with Microsoft Project to represent large projects in summary form, while communicating changes over the course of the project in a consistent format.

Using OnePager Pro will allow you to create dynamic, informative project presentations with the click of a button, while eliminating the need to rebuild your presentations by hand every time your project schedule changes.

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

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