Project Timeline: How To Create one, Types and Examples

Author: Madalina Roman

Task dependencies, keeping the project organized, delivering upon deadline… A project’s life cycle is complex and tedious unless you’re creating a project timeline.

Project timeline creation helps you align your project components and organize tasks and team members to achieve a synchronized workflow. This timeline will give you a clear overview of what needs to be accomplished and when and will serve as your project roadmap.

What is a project timeline?

A project timeline is a visual and dynamic representation of your project’s tasks, milestones, and events in chronological order. Essentially, the project timeline outlines at a glance your project plan in a single place. Your project plan timeline will reveal your project from point 0 to the finish line visually, in a horizontal display or bar chart.

A typical project plan timeline displays a project plan that comprises:

  • All project phases (in chronological order)

  • Task sequences

  • Task dependencies

  • Project scope statement

  • Project deadlines

  • Project deliverables

  • Start and end dates of tasks and the overall project timeline

  • Other information that allows a project team and all stakeholders to understand the project’s progression over time.

Map your project’s timeline based on how much time your teams spends on tasks

An automatic tool like Timeular surfaces effortlessly how much time your team spends on individual project phases.

Hence, utilizing this project management tool, which is part of every PMP certification, equips you with more control over your project schedule, deliverables, and blockers that hinder your successful delivery. Ultimately, knowing how to build and handle a project timeline, regardless of whether you’re using additional project timeline templates or project management tools, is part of a project manager’s role.

You might want to read more about the Types of risks in project management.

project timeline

What types of project timelines are there?

Let’s explore some of the most used types of project timelines you can use when you manage projects and then pull data from the final project reporting. Project timeline examples:

Gantt chart timeline

You have to know the Gantt charts! It was the first project management tool I learned when I was volunteering at the university. 👩‍🎓

Gantt charts are some of the most used project management timelines out there. These charts are a type of horizontal bar chart that’s a simple visual representation of your project schedule. It gives you the superpower of seeing project tasks illustrated over time, along with task dependencies, durations, milestones, and progress.

The best aspect of Gantt charts is the visual clarity it provides. It allows you to identify in real-time task dependencies, organize and sequence tasks with efficacy, monitor a project’s progress by avoiding bottlenecks, and make informed and quick decisions.

Linear timeline

If you’re looking for a simple project management timeline and you don’t want to overcomplicate your process, the linear timeline is for you.

Imagine a straight horizontal or vertical line with project events and tasks in chronological order. That’s simple and less complicated than a Gantt chart, and it gives you a high-level, sequential overview of the project.

The best aspect of Linear timelines is the temporal overview of the progression of activities. The linear timeline includes the project start and end dates in a time interval where tasks, milestones, and significant project events are marked. Project milestones are often highlighted in the linear timeline when the project planning

Key milestones chart

As its name reveals, the Key milestones chart highlights the key project milestones and major events in an entire project.

This project timeline is another way of creating project timelines for a higher-level overview without infusing details. This type of chart is particularly useful in board meeting rooms, team meetings, or client overviews, as it communicates the important milestones to project stakeholders.

The best aspect of the Key milestones chart is its visual labeling system (💎). In this project timeline, milestones are highlighted with symbols or colors. This project timeline example enables you to keep track of critical deadlines and strategic project goals with a simplified view.

Kanban board

Commonly used in Agile methodologies for visual project management, the Kanban board is organized in columns and cards.

Oftentimes, its columns represent the “To Do,” “In Progress,” and “Done” fields. These help any team member visualize work, stay in sync with progress, and eliminate friction in asking team members what the progress on a task is.

The best aspects of the Kanban board are its WIP limits and the Swimlanes. WIPs, as you can imagine, are work-in-progress limits that can be set on columns to control the project’s progress and avoid bottlenecks. The Swimlanes are horizontal lanes that can be used to organize tasks into categories, team members, or priorities

Critical Path Method (CPM) timeline

If you’re looking for a more comprehensive timeline for complex projects, then CPM is for you.

This type of timeline lists a long sequence of dependent tasks necessary to complete your project. The sequence is also called the “critical path.” The critical path shows you the minimum project duration. It’s mostly useful in managing complicated projects and emphasizing critical tasks that affect the project delivery end date.

The best aspect of the Critical Path Method is its robustness. You can rely on this timeline to link task dependencies for you and reveal detailed insights into critical tasks and project duration.

How to create timelines

Creating a project timeline efficiently is a several-step roadmap that guides your team through the twists and turns of tasks, deadlines, and milestones. Let’s look at it in a step-by-step guide:

  • Define the project’s scope

This is where well-done project management lies. Start by outlining the project’s goals, scope, and deliverables. What is it that is supposed to be accomplished by the end of the project?

  • Identify and sequence tasks

Move on to identifying key project management milestones and tasks necessary for your project’s completion. The project is now broken down into smaller tasks that have manageable deadlines. With each task, list every activity needed to accomplish it.

TIP: Boost productivity with these free work schedule templates

  • Determine the order in which tasks need to be executed

List task dependencies, which ones need to be prioritized, which can be done later in the project, and so on. The Time Management Matrix can help you establish priorities.

  • Estimate task durations

At this point, estimating the time each task will take to complete is important. During this stage, time tracking is crucial for helping create a project timeline. For that, use time-tracking software.

It provides insights into task durations and resource allocation and helps ensure accurate and realistic scheduling for all the tasks.

Read also: Time estimation methods in project management.

  • Allocate resources accordingly

Allocate human and financial resources for each activity, ensuring resource availability aligns with the project timeline.

  • Create a timeline

Choose the timeline of your choice, and start creating your timeline. You may need to choose a project management software at this stage. Tasks, dependencies, durations, and resources should be inserted in your project timeline.

How much time does your team spend on individual project phases?

Start tracking time of your projects in the most effortless way. It’s simple, smart and secure. With Al at your side.

  • Seek stakeholder approval

Share the proposed project timeline with the stakeholders and get their feedback and needed approvals.

  • Monitor and update as needed

Keep reviewing the initial timeline and make adjustments based on feedback, resource availability, or changes in project scope. Saying flexible is key. Ask yourself questions like: What are the expectations versus the reality? Use this baseline for ongoing monitoring and comparison with actual progress.

Read also: Project monitoring: how to do it?

  • Keep communicating progress

Use the project timeline as a communication tool to update every interested part, and be sure to communicate any deviations from the original schedule.

TIP: best team communication apps.

Examples of projects that need a project timeline

A wide range of projects can benefit from a tool such as a project timeline, particularly those with multiple tasks, dependencies, and specific deadlines. These are some of the most common types of projects where this technique works best:

Software development projects

Creating a project management timeline is crucial for software development projects with coding, testing, debugging, and deployment phases. It helps manage tasks, dependencies, and deliverables.

Read also: Managing software development teams

Website development projects

Any website development process is quite tedious and involves a couple of steps. Once these steps are reflected in a project timeline, it’s much easier to have control over wireframing, content creation, design, coding, and testing. Plus, the timeline will aid in executing all project phases within perfect timing.

SEO quarterly content plan

Assuming you’re part of an SEO agency working on the content plan for one of your clients. An SEO content plan involves thorough keyword research, planning content creation based on the keywords, and the growth the business needs. In the SEO growth plan, you can add backlink building and many other SEO components that need to happen at a certain stage of the plan in a specific timeframe. So, creating a successful project timeline will account for all those elements.

TIP: Increasing the profitability of a marketing agency

Product launch

As with the development stage, introducing a new product involves multiple stages, from product development and testing to marketing and launch. A project timeline helps coordinate these activities to ensure a successful release.

TIP: Ensure deadlines and project timelines with agency time-tracking software.

Project timeline software: what you need to know

Using project timeline software is an excellent step for effective project management. These tools offer visual representations that facilitate planning, tracking, and communication. Here’s what you need to know about project timeline software.

Crafting resilient and flexible project timelines requires the right software tools. For anything beyond the most straightforward projects, relying solely on a whiteboard, whether physical or digital, is not enough.

Project management software, equipped with robust time tracking and project timeline capabilities, is key.

Here’s what project managers need to look for when choosing a project timeline tools:

  • Support for different timeline formats – make sure the software accommodates various timeline formats, like the versatile Gantt charts.

  • Depth and flexibility – choose tools that provide both granular detail and a high-level overview. Look for key features like detailed task and project progress tracking, along with more general insights into project/account profitability and health.

  • Intuitive and automated timeline updates – go for a solution that automatically adapts related tasks in real-time situations, saving valuable time that would otherwise be spent on manual adjustments.

When using the software, don’t forget to

  • Keep the timeline updated – accurate, current data is crucial for data-driven decision-making. Ensure the project timeline is constantly updated with as much detail as possible.

  • Don’t assume that the tool communicates for you – the fact that everyone has access to the project timeline doesn’t guarantee everyone is on the same page. Foster assertive communication about updates, progress, and any changes to the timeline.

  • Keep everything well connected – choose software that allows linking dependent tasks, preventing confusion and overwork that wastes time.

Why use a project timeline

A project manager knows that a project timeline works as a trusty sidekick at the start of each project. It’s more than just providing information and communicating progress to stakeholders.

Creating a project timeline results in a wide list of benefits and supports many project initiatives:

  • It reveals a clear path for the project – a benefit that is particularly beneficial in complex projects. Because a project features multiple layers, a project timeline makes it easy to discern the sequential order of steps, guiding the team on what to tackle first and what follows.

  • It keeps things in perspective towards the larger goal – since projects are made of numerous small steps that lead to a larger goal, it’s challenging to see the endpoint. A project timeline provides a consolidated view, allowing teams to focus on the overall picture and understand how individual tasks contribute to the project’s success.

  • It ensures everyone is on the same page – a united team is crucial for project success. Project timelines assist in clarifying each team member’s role, fostering a shared understanding of how everyone contributes to the project’s success.

  • It keeps everyone informed – everyone involved can track project progress. A project timeline builds trust with stakeholders and facilitates communication, ensuring everyone is well-informed about the project’s status.

  • It keeps task dependency well-documented and easy to track – laying out the hierarchy of all the tasks involved in the project and their dependencies is vital for effective project management. A project timeline aids in preventing confusion and promoting efficient task execution.

  • It makes changing certain aspects much easier – unforeseen challenges may arise and a project timeline facilitates active adaptation, making it easier to modify project elements and rearrange tasks without leaving team members in the dark.

  • It prevents hold-ups – by identifying potential issues, project timelines help anticipate and mitigate bottlenecks that could otherwise interfere with the project’s progress.

How much time does your team spend on individual project phases?

Start tracking time of your projects in the most effortless way. It’s simple, smart and secure. With Al at your side.


The journey of coordinating projects is complex and challenging. Because of this, a good project plan is one of the key elements of a business’s success.

A project timeline is crucial in this process, serving as the project manager’s best friend. Its role extends beyond visualization, encompassing a myriad of benefits that can shape the course of successful project management.

From providing a clear path forward and maintaining a holistic perspective to ensuring the entire team’s alignment and preventing potential blockages, a project timeline is essential in navigating every step of project development and execution.

As we explored what goes into creating and utilizing project timelines, it became evident that these tools guide project progression and enhance collaboration, communication, and adaptability.

With various types of project timelines catering to different needs and requirements, along with the possibility of using sophisticated project timeline software, effective project management continues to evolve.


What is the best project management software?

Choosing the best project management software depends on your project team’s specific needs and project requirements. Popular options include Trello, Asana, Jira, Wrike, and ClickUp.

Are project timelines flexible?

Yes, project timelines can and should be flexible. They should allow for adjustments based on changing circumstances, unforeseen events, or changes in project requirements.
In an effective project timeline, flexibility is essential for adapting to challenges and ensuring successful project delivery. However, constant adjustments can have the opposite effect, so this flexibility needs to be limited.

What is the best project timeline software to use?

Selecting the best project timeline software depends on your project’s specific needs and the team’s preferences. Some of the more popular options include Smartsheet,, and ClickUp.

When should a project timeline be created?

A project timeline should be created during the project initiation and planning phases. As the project progresses, regular updates and revisions are necessary to accommodate changes and keep everyone informed.