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Which tool(s) do you use for creating good project timelines? I don't mean Gantt charts, but timelines that summarize the milestones so the team / others can have an overview of the plan ahead.

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I have used the following:

  • Most of the time for high-level timelines I use MS PowerPoint. I find it works really well if you are well-versed with the software well but I wouldn't advise it if you are a "beginner".
  • Visio (there is a built-in layout for timelines).
  • MS Project:
    • if you have a version older than 2010, what you can do is limited, but to draw and print a high-level timeline I use a custom column to identify the activities/milestones I want to show, then filter on that column and use the formatting options available.
    • the MS Project 2010 version has a “visually enhanced timeline” feature: see more info in this article on TechRepublic.

Additional note: I have written a post on the subject of communicating about plans/timelines (it includes an example of a high-level timeline done in PPT) on my blog here.

  • Trying MS Project and it seems to work! Thanks! – Rui Casais Aug 11 '11 at 20:15
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For our project management, we use Eylean. It is not nescecerally created for deveoping project timelines, as it offers more funtions, but with it you can create the exact timelines you described.

It offers you a taskboard with all the tasks represented on the board. So the team can see which tasks are waiting to be started, which ones are in progress and which ones are already finished. The taskboard is clean, simple and convenient.

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you might want to check out: http://sprintr.com/tour/ especially created to enhance agile methodologies, you can generate timelines, burndowncharts, maintain the backlog and stories etc.

  • Looks interesting, but I'm looking for an offline tool as my company's policies do not allow me to store any company data outside the firewall – Rui Casais Aug 3 '11 at 12:17
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An MSProject GANTT chart can be made useful at a higher level by creating summary tasks, and then just showing the highest level of outline.

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One of the goals of our gantt chart product is to create presentable gantt charts. One option for distributing the schedule to a team is to send a permalink to the project, reading permalinked gantt charts is free and does not require login. http://gantto.com/features/share

Before gantto I either used print-screen and MS Project or I manually drew gantt charts out in Powerpoint or Illustrator.

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I'm using Visio. I'm lucky enough to have access to a large format printer, so I make this diagram in D size paper divided in 10 columns. Each column represents a sprint.

I manage a team that is responsible to implement stories related to hardware design, electronics design, firmware and normal software development. Each area has a different icon, and then I have items distributed into sprints (columns).

I also have red vertical lines in future sprints defining hard deadlines (shows where the product is going to be presented, etc)

As sprints go by, I draw a big green checkmark on top of the stories that were successfully delivered on demo day, and a red cross otherwise. I print one of such plots at the begining of each sprint. It also helps visualizing the velocity adjusting itself as time goes by.

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Personally, I go with post-it notes and a sharpie! That said, either Visio or the Draw app in the open office suite have timeline stencils.

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