Recently I needed to create some Timeline visualizations that gave me a new appreciation for this feature. In this post, I'll show you the types of visualizations I created.
To begin, you can review what I've previously posted about the Timeline view here.
As you may recall, the Timeline was one of the major new features introduced in Project 2010. It looks like this:
(Tip Click image for larger view)
My general advice is to use the Timeline as your plan's highlights reel--give visibility to a subset of your plan's tasks and milestones in a simplified and compelling format.
Recently I used the Timeline to represent percent complete estimates on a set of deliverables. Specifically I wanted to indicate percent complete targets against a set of externally imposed milestones.
Long-time readers of this blog know that I am generally cautious about using percent complete with complex work, as I've discussed here. However for the communication need I was focused on recently, this proved to be the most effective approach.
Here's a generic representation of the approach I took. The externally imposed milestones are formatted as callouts on the timelines, and the incremental percent complete portions of the deliverables are split between the timelines.
To achive this result, I had to create a set of "dummy tasks" that exist only to be added to the timeline; I would not use these as real tasks to which I'd assign resources or track progress in the plan. They looked like this in the Gantt Chart view:
I've previously discussed the strengths of Project's scheduling engine as a time calculator (here For example), and these dummy tasks are really more examples in the same vein.
Hands-on with Project Step by Step
To read more about this blog entry's subjects in the two most recent editions of Tim Johnson's and my Project Step by Step books, see the following cross-references.