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Smartsheet Timeline

How to build a project timeline using a plan from Smartsheet

If you use Smartsheet to collaborate and to manage projects, you need an easy way to create a project timeline, other than the basic Gantt chart that comes with Smartsheet. This article will show you how OnePager can create a timeline from a project that originated in Smartsheet.

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OnePager is the timeline tool that makes it easy to create great-looking project timelines from Smartsheet in minutes. To get started, follow either set of instructions below:

1. Easy Method: Direct import of Smartsheet data
2. Legacy Method: Import of Smartsheet data through Excel

Direct Smartsheet Method

OnePager connects directly to Smartsheet's collaborative work management (CWM) platform, imports your project, and converts it to timeline in just a few steps. Here's how:

  1. In this example Smartsheet project, we have multiple phases, each with several tasks underneath. We'll import the child rows onto the timeline, and use the parent rows for our swimlanes:

    Parent and child rows Smartsheet

  2. To select only the child rows in Smartsheet, we're going to insert a checkbox field, by right-clicking on any existing Smartsheet column, and choosing the Insert Column Right option. We'll set up a checkbox field called OnePager:

    Add a checkbox field to Smartsheet

  3. With the OnePager column inserted, check the box next to any child rows that you want to include in your timeline. It's not necessary to check the box for any parent rows unless you want them to appear as tasks in your chart. Even if they're unchecked, OnePager can still use parent rows to drive swimlanes. When you're finished selecting rows, don't forget to save your Smartsheet project.

    Select which rows from Smartsheet should be in the timeline

  4. From your desktop or Windows Start menu, launch OnePager:

    Launch OnePager from your desktop.

  5. When the OnePager start screen appears, click on New to start building a new timeline from Smartsheet:

    OnePager start screen.

  6. On the import wizard, choose Select > BROWSE Smartsheet:

    Browse Smartsheet projects from OnePager.

  7. If you've never logged into Smartsheet from OnePager before, Smartsheet will ask you for your username and password:

    Log into Smartsheet from OnePager.

    After connecting, Smartsheet will ask you whether you want to Allow OnePager access to your Smartsheet account. Once you click Allow, OnePager will connect Smartsheet automatically going forward.

  8. Select the project that you want to import from Smartsheet and click OK:

    Import from Smartsheet into a OnePager timeline.

  9. Give your timeline a name, and select the OnePager checkbox field as your filter. Then, click Next, followed by Create New Chart:

    Create a timeline in OnePager from Smartsheet.

  10. OnePager will import your selected child rows from Smartsheet, and will line each phase up its own timeline based on the parent rows in Smartsheet. No need to drag and drops manually to achieve a timeline layout:

    Timeline with swimlanes created in OnePager using parent and child rows from Smartsheet.

  11. OnePager can assign a unique color to each phase, so that each timeline in your chart stands out better. To do this, go to Home > Chart Properties > Task Bars and change the Foreground Color to Level 1 Summary Name, which is the name for the top-level parent row in Smartsheet:

    Color code based on the parent row in Smartsheet.

  12. Click OK and OnePager will color-code your timelines based on the parent rows in Smartsheet:

    Timeline with swimlanes from Smartsheet, with each timeline color-coded based on the Smartsheet parent row.

From here, you can customize just about every other aspect of your formatting, and do it all based on the data that you already have in Smartsheet! We invite you to try it with your own Smartsheet projects by downloading a free trial today.

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Excel Method

If you're using an older version of OnePager, you can accomplish similar results through Excel:

  1. Start with your project plan in Smartsheet. Here, we have a sequence of tasks broken out into different phases. Our goal is to have all of the tasks for a given row lined up left-to-right, so if we have four phases, we'll end up with four timelines in the chart.

    Smartsheet project with tasks and phases.

  2. Right-click in your Smartsheet chart and choose the Insert Column Left option. We are going to insert a new Text/Number field called Parent Task. Click OK so that the new column appears in your Smartsheet plan.

    Insert a field into Smartsheet to track the parent task.

  3. Click into the new field and write a formula that will give you the parent task for each task in your plan:

    Formula for parent task in Smartsheet.

    The formula is =PARENT([Task Name@row])

  4. Make sure you copy the formula to all of the tasks in your project. You can do this by highlighting the empty cells and pressing Ctrl + D to fill down.

    Fill down a formula in Smartsheet.

    Once this is complete, you will see that all of the tasks in your Smartsheet project clearly identify their parent task.

  5. We'll another field to Smartsheet that lets us decide which tasks we want to include in our OnePager chart. Following the same steps as before, we'll create a Checkbox field called OnePager:

    Create a checkbox field in Smartsheet.

  6. Now, check the boxes for the tasks that you want to include in your timeline. In this example, we will select the standard tasks, but not the summary tasks. You'll see why in a minute:

    Checkbox field in Smartsheet for OnePager.

  7. The final field that we want to insert into Smartsheet is an Auto-Number/System called Row ID:

    Row ID auto-number field in Smartsheet.

    Save your project, and Smartsheet will automatically number each task in your plan.

  8. Your Smartsheet plan is now ready to be exported to Excel. In Smartsheet, go to File > Export > Export to Microsoft Excel:

    Export from Smartsheet to Excel.

  9. Now it's time to bring your project plan into OnePager. Open the Excel file that you just created, go to the Add-Ins tab, and click the OnePager Express icon:

    Launch OnePager from Excel.

  10. On the start screen, click NEW to start building a new timeline. On the import wizard, give your timeline a name. We want to switch OnePager's default template from Single Project Gantt View - Detailed to Birds on a Wire Chart. You can switch the template by clicking on Change > Browse Files and selecting the correct template:

    Name your Smartsheet timeline.

  11. Click the Next button, and then from the next screen, click Create New Chart. OnePager will import the selected tasks from your Smartsheet project and give you a timeline like this:

    Smartsheet Timeline created in OnePager.

This timeline takes the phases that you have in your Smartsheet project plan and uses those phases to create a series of timelines where sequential tasks are lined up left-to-right. OnePager also automatically assigns color so that all of the tasks in a given phase all share the same color.

Get started today by downloading a free trial.

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