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Smartsheet Multi-Project Timeline

Combine multiple Smartsheet projects into a high-level portfolio timeline

If you use Smartsheet to manage lots of projects, you often need to create a consolidated timeline that reports on all of your multiple projects at once:

Smartsheet Multi-Project Timeline created in OnePager Express.

OnePager Express can take multiple Excel exports from Smartsheet (one per project), and combine them into a multi-project timeline that summarizes everything in one place. If you don't already have OnePager, download a free trial and follow these simple steps:

  1. Log into Smartsheet and open your first project plan, which in this case is called the "Alpha Project". We recommend including Smartsheet's Row ID column. To do this, right-click on any existing column in Smartsheet, then choose Insert Column Left:

    Insert a new column into Smartsheet

  2. On the Insert Column screen, pick Auto-Number/System for Row ID:

    Insert the Row ID column, including the project name, as an Auto-Number in Smartsheet.

    Before clicking OK, we want to make sure that the Row ID is not going to repeat between any of your other projects. Usually Smartsheet uses a simple number for the Row ID, but that can be a problem since the same number can appear in multiple projects. To make the Row ID unique, add your project name as a prefix. This way instead of having a Row ID of "007", it will be "Alpha-007" instead. This makes it much easier to combine several Smartsheet projects into a Multi-Project Timeline later.

  3. Click OK and save your Smartsheet project to see the Row ID values::

    Smartsheet Row ID, including the project name.

  4. We will create a timeline for each subproject, which means we want to have a Project Name column that clearly states which Smartsheet project each task belongs to. To do this, right-click again on any existing Smartsheet field and insert another new column. This time, it will be a Text/Number column called Project Name:

    Insert a column for the project name into Smartsheet

    Once the Project Name column has been inserted, you can add the project name ("Alpha" in this case) to every row in your plan by filling down.

  5. In this example, we're going to create a high-level timeline that only displays the phases of each subproject, so we don't want to include all of the child rows in our report. To pick some Smartsheet rows but not others, insert a Checkbox column into Smartsheet called Add to OnePager and then select only the parent rows, like this:

    Filter the rows to include in your timeline chart

  6. The first project, "Project Alpha", is ready to export from Smartsheet into Excel. Go to File > Export > Export to Microsoft Excel:

    Export Smartsheet to Excel.

  7. Before building your multi-project timeline, repeat these first few steps for all of your other Smartsheet projects that you want to include in your report. In this example, we have a total of three projects: Alpha, Beta, and Gamma. So, we want to insert the same fields into the Beta and Gamma projects before exporting all three to Excel:

    List of all Smartsheet project plans

  8. Here, we see all three Smartsheet project plans exported to separate Excel files in the same folder:

    Folder of multiple Smartsheet projects.

    You don't have to place all of your Smartsheet exports in the same folder, but it can be more convenient this way.

  9. Open the first Excel file, which is for "Project Alpha", and then go to Excel's Add-Ins tab. Click the the OnePager Express button:

    OnePager Express will import from Excel

    When OnePager's start screen appears, click NEW to build a new Multi-Project Timeline.

  10. In the import wizard, "Project Alpha" has already been imported, since that's what was already open in Excel. To add the rest of the Smartsheet projects, click on Add/Remove:

    Import multiple Smartsheet Excel exports into OnePager

    When the Data Source Selection window pops up, click Add and then BROWSE FILES to attach as many more Smartsheet projects as you'd like. OnePager lets you import an unlimited number of project plans.

    When you've added all of the Smartsheet projects that you need to, just click OK.

  11. Back in the import wizard, give your timeline a name and then pick the Add to OnePager checkbox field that you set up as a filter back in Smartsheet. This will tell OnePager to bring in your parent rows from Smartsheet, but not to import the child rows.

    Filter multiple Smartsheet projects

  12. Click Next and double-check which columns from Smartsheet you want to use in your OnePager timeline. It's important for OnePager's Unique ID to be mapped to Smartsheet's "Row ID". We've also chosen to assign a different color to each phase of each project so that all "Phase I" parent rows are one color, all "Phase II" are a second color, and so on.

    Map Smartsheet columns into your OnePager timeline.

    When you're ready, click Create New Project View to build your timeline.

  13. OnePager will import the parent rows from all three Smartsheet projects automatically. Initially, your chart will look like this::

    Smartsheet Multi-Project Gantt Chart created in OnePager Express.

    This is a nice summary, but it would be more useful if all of the phases for each project were lined up left-to-right in more of a timeline format.

  14. To create a timeline layout where each project's key phases are lined up left-to-right, go to Home > Project View Properties > Rows/Swimlanes. Instead of making one row per task, collect multiple tasks into the same row based on the Project Name field form Smartsheet:

    Create a timeline layout for multiple projects.

  15. Click OK, and OnePager will automatically change your report from a Gantt chart layout into a timeline layout with one row for each Smartsheet project, and all key phases lined up in sequence:

    Multi-Project Timeline exported from Smartsheet

    We've also assigned a unique color to each phase, so all "Phase I" tasks are blue, all "Phase II" tasks are red, and all "Phase III" tasks are green, even though they all come from different Smartsheet project plans.

Build your Smartsheet Multi-Project Timeline today by downloading a free trial of OnePager Express.

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Last Updated: July 26, 2019