Project timeline template

A project timeline template consolidates important project details, such as dependencies, resources, and risks, into a streamlined, visual flow for improved project management.

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What is a project timeline template?

A project timeline provides the team, as well as stakeholders, a visual illustration of the entire project broken down by the work in each timeframe. A project timeline template is a starting point for each new project that helps teams fill in details quickly. It can be based on a prior project or created using common tasks, dependencies, and timeframes. Timeframes can represent days, weeks, or months—any period appropriate for the size and complexity of the project.

Products like Confluence offer free project timeline templates to help teams start quickly.

Benefits of using a project timeline template

Completing a project within the designated timeframe demonstrates a team’s project collaboration skills and helps businesses save money. Having a predictable project timeline helps teams reduce risk, manage project scope, align their budget, and maintain quality.

Project timeline templates give teams the building blocks necessary to create predictable outcomes and deliver the plan through all project management phases.

Visual representation

Project timeline templates provide a visual representation of the project from start to finish. This helps teams see what tasks require the most time, where dependencies are, and identify any risks. Understanding the flow enables teams to shift resources to complete critical tasks and mitigate issues.

Visual workflows also provide stakeholders with an at-a-glance understanding of the overall project. It helps keep everyone in sync and able to discuss the project timeline with others.

Task dependencies

Project timeline templates simplify dependency mapping and ensure correct task sequencing. With a visual timeline, teams can quickly see where dependencies may put the project at risk. This helps them shift resources to focus on higher-priority tasks. 

Task dependencies also help identify the non-negotiable work in the project. Team collaboration during dependency mapping is the best way to ensure that those most familiar with the tasks provide input on the dependencies.

Resource management

Planning for capacity is one of the most difficult aspects of project management. Setting the task sequence based on dependencies can overburden some team members while leaving others idle.

A project timeline template allows teams to assign resources and then adjust the sequence to accommodate and track resource availability and task dependencies.

Deadline management

Whether the project timeline uses a start-to-finish approach, or the team works backward from an established date, a project timeline template helps define each task deadline within the project. When a deadline shifts on a project with linked dependent tasks, all tasks update automatically. This helps teams recognize schedule slips earlier and take steps to adjust.

Risk mitigation

Every project has risks. This could be an unrealistic deadline with dependent tasks or resource allocation stacked near the end of the project. A project timeline template helps teams identify those risks early and make necessary adjustments.

With the visual timeline, sequencing work based on dependencies provides a clear view of bottlenecks and allows teams to refine the sequence or negotiate the work to help mitigate risks.

Project tracking

Using a template to define the project timeline makes it easier for teams to monitor their progress against tasks and overall deadlines. As the project progresses, roadblocks become evident, which allows teams to adjust quickly.

Stakeholders and others in the business can use the project timeline to quickly identify project status, task status, and resource loads.

Featured product: Confluence

Confluence brings teams together in a connected, collaborative workspace to move projects forward to completion. With Confluence, teams can create and manage end-to-end project documentation from roadmaps, specifications, and user feedback in a single location.

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How to use a project timeline template

Enter project details

Begin with the project details, which capture how the team plans to approach the project. Include the goals, deliverables, tasks, timeline, process, and people. This is an overview of what the project is and why the team is doing it. 

Include roles and responsibilities, budgets, and any other important details, such as who the customer is. Confluence makes tagging team members, granting permissions, and entering dates easy.

Identify tasks and milestones

Begin by adding major milestones, followed by the tasks within each one. Teams can quickly link tasks in Jira to Confluence’s free project timeline template without entering them again.

Set task durations

Add the expected duration for each task. Consider other projects the team is working on and the number of resources available, including team members from different areas of the business. Be realistic when defining duration, as it provides a holistic view of the project timeline.

Manage dependencies

Define which tasks can't begin until other tasks are complete, and map those dependencies in the project timeline template. For example, user interface prototypes may need approval from the customer before development can begin.

Adjust timelines

With tasks, milestones, and dependencies set, the team can make necessary adjustments. Is the scope too large, or can the deadline shift to accommodate the work? Are there enough resources available for the largest tasks, or can you break them into smaller ones? Before beginning the project, the team and stakeholders must understand expectations and how to achieve them.

Update progress

Roadblocks and changes are almost inevitable with any project. Progress updates keep everyone on the team up to date. Be transparent and communicate changes or adjustments early to prevent surprises.

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