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Sub-Swimlanes from Microsoft Project

If you use Microsoft Project and need to group your project timeline or Gantt chart into parent swimlanes and child swimlanes, learn how with OnePager Pro.

Microsoft Project Gantt chart swimlanes and sub-swimlanes.

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The basic Gantt chart and timeline in Microsoft Project doesn't include swimlanes, but OnePager Pro can import your Microsoft Project plan and create a chart with swimlanes and multiple sub-swimlanes, sometimes called parent swimlanes and child swimlanes:

Simple Instructions

These instructions are designed for people don't already have a Microsoft Project schedule. You can use our example Microsoft Project plan as a starting point and follow these abbreviated steps to create your swimlanes and sub-swimlanes in a matter of minutes.

  1. Start by downloading these two sample files to your downloads folder or to your desktop. The Microsoft Project file contains the tasks and phases, and the *.tat file is the OnePager template that will drive the formatting of the sub-swimlanes in your chart.

      Sub-Swimlanes.mpp (Microsoft Project File)
      Sub-Swimlanes.tat (OnePager Template)

  1. Open the Microsoft Project file that you just downloaded. From Project's Add-Ins tab, click the OnePager Pro button:

    OnePager Pro add-in launch from MS Project.

  2. On the Start screen, click NEW to begin building a new Gantt chart or timeline:

    OnePager Pro start screen.

  3. On the next screen, locate the Starting Template section, and go to Change > BROWSE FILES. Browse to your desktop and select the Sub-Swimlanes.tat that you downloaded in step #1:

    Change your OnePager template to use sub-swimlanes.

  4. With your Microsoft Project file loaded and your OnePager template selected, click Create new chart. OnePager will import the data from your Microsoft Project plan and create a Gantt chart with swimlanes and sub-swimlanes in just a few seconds:

    Microsoft Project Gantt chart with swimlanes and sub-swimlanes

Here, the parent swimlane is based on the phases in Microsoft Project, and the child swimlane is based on the workstreams. The swimlanes and sub-swimlanes are tied to the different outline levels in the WBS of the Microsoft Project plan.

If you would like to customize this chart further, you can go back to MS Project and adjust the project plan to match the dates and phases of your own project. Once you've done this, follow the same steps again with your updated MPP file, and you'll be in great shape!

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Detailed Instructions

These instructions are designed for people who already have a Microsoft Project plan and need to import what they already have into OnePager to generate the swimlanes and sub-swimlanes. These instructions also provide more details about customization along the way.

  1. We'll start with a simple Microsoft Project plan. Here, we have a number of tasks, and those tasks are children of a parent task (workstream) and a grandparent task (phase). For example, "Task 1" is a child of "Workstream A", and also a grandchild of "Phase A". OnePager will use this natural hierarchy in Microsoft Project to create the swimlanes and sub-swimlanes:

    Microsoft Project plan with parent and child tasks.

    You can also insert a flag field like Flag 20 to filter which tasks from Microsoft Project you want to import and which ones you don't. In this example, we have flagged all of the child tasks, but have not flagged the parent or grandparent tasks. Even though these summary tasks are not flagged, OnePager will still be able to use them to group your Gantt chart into swimlanes and sub-swimlanes.

  2. Click the OnePager Pro button to create a New Chart as a starting point.

    OnePager Pro add-in launch from Microsoft Project.

  3. Your initial Gantt chart should look something like this, with a single set of parent swimlanes based on the project phase. In the next few steps, we'll show you how to turn on a child swimlane for the workstreams, and to adjust the formatting of your swimlanes:

    Microsoft Project Gantt chart with a single level of parent swimlanes.

  4. To add the secondary sub-swimlane based on workstream, go to Home > Chart Properties > Rows/Swimlanes. You should already see that the Left #1 Swimlane tab is set up to look at the Level 1 Summary Name from Microsoft Project. This is what's driving the parent swimlane that is already present in the Gantt chart.

    Click on the Left #2 Swimlane tab, turn it on, and set it to group the child swimlanes based on the Level 2 Summary Name, which is equivalent to the workstream in Microsoft Project:

    Secondary sub-swimlane (child swimlane) looks at the WBS in Microsoft Project.
  5. Click OK, and OnePager will update your Gantt chart so that you have a primary swimlane based on the phase from Microsoft Project, followed by a sub-swimlane based on the workstream in Microsoft Project:

    Gantt chart from Microsoft project with a primary swimlane (parent swimlane) and a secondary sub-swimlane (child swimlane).
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Formatting Options

  1. You can control the formatting of the parent and child swimlanes so that they have different colors and fonts. In the current chart, we have alternating colors for the parent swimlane, but if we want the zebra stripes to apply to the child swimlane instead, we can go to Home > Chart Properties > Main and change the Chart Background to alternate colors between the Left #2 Swimlane instead of the Left #1 Swimlane:

    Change the chart background to alternate colors on the child swimlane instead of the parent swimlane.
  2. Click OK, and the background of the chart will now alternate colors based on the child swimlane instead of the parent swimlane:

    Gantt chart with backgrounds based on the child swimlane
  3. We can still add a fill pattern to the parent swimlanes as well, even if it doesn't extend into the entire body of the chart. To do this, go to Home > Chart Properties > Rows/Swimlanes and click the Swimlane Formatting button for the Left #1 parent swimlane. Here, we've assigned an alternating dark blue color pattern to the first set of swimlanes:

    Apply a background color to the parent swimlanes.

    While we're at it, we changed the parent swimlane font color to light blue, and rotated the swimlane text vertically.

  4. Click OK and you'll see that the parent swimlanes now have their own background color that is different from the child swimlanes:

    Gantt chart with different background color for parent swimlanes and child swimlanes.
  5. Finally, we can add a splash of color to the tasks themselves. This way, any task that is a member of the same workstream can share the same color, making it easy to distinguish one phase or one workstream from the next. To do this, go back to Home > Chart Properties > Task Bars and change the Color-code based on setting to Level 2 Summary Name which is the sub-swimlane in our example:

    Apply color-coding to the Gantt chart based on the project workstream.
  6. Click OK one final time, and your tasks will be color-coded to match the child swimlanes:

    Gantt chart color coded by the project phase or project workstream:

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