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Do you want your project to make sense? This is how you achieve clarity and efficiency  

Are you tired of project stakeholders being confused about the next steps within a project? Is the management struggling to track the project’s progress effectively? It’s time to put an end to confusion and elevate your timeline management game. This article delves into the importance of well-managed timelines and presents a solution to the common problem of unclarity in project progress updates. 

Project stakeholders frequently find themselves in the dark about what actions they should take next, while management often lacks a comprehensive overview of the project’s current status. To address this friction, it is essential that you optimise your timeline management practices. 

The challenge typically arises when project managers fail to provide a clear and understandable project status to all parties involved. While initial timeline creation might seem straightforward, complexities emerge as the project evolves. This can result in the timeline taking a back seat, leaving stakeholders unaware of the project’s actual progress. While tools like MS Project and Excel sheets might contain accurate data, the clarity required for effective communication is often missing. 

The key to resolving this challenge lies in simplicity. What you need is a timeline that is: 

– easy to update 

– intuitive to understand  

– equipped with a comprehensive snapshot of the present and upcoming project milestones.  

One example of an optimal tool for this purpose is MS Visio. (See the instructions for creating a timeline on Microsoft Support and give it a try!) 

Excel doesn’t always excel – simplicity is essential to effective communication 

While some might argue that tools like MS Project or Excel sheets provide greater detail and clarity in project management, these tools sometimes fall short due to human tendencies and priorities. Many team members are preoccupied with non-project tasks, while upper management focuses on pressing matters. The project manager is often the sole bridge between project clarity and confusion.  

Despite the advanced features of tools like MS Project, the essence of effective communication often lies in simplicity. Therefore, I would recommend simpler tools like MS Visio. However, using a Visio tool does not mean that MS Project would become obsolete. In most cases, a detailed project schedule with constraints is necessary.   

4 key benefits to a streamlined timeline process 

Implementing a simplified timeline process yields several benefits for the project and its stakeholders. Here are the top four: 

1. Enhanced clarity. The timeline offers a clear and comprehensible depiction of project milestones, catering to all stakeholders, from consultants to steering group members. 

2. Real-time adjustments. The timeline can be easily modified during status calls. Adjusting brackets and deadlines automatically shifts dates, ensuring accurate representation. 

3. Efficient sharing. The timeline can be effortlessly shared by copying and pasting it into reports or emails, saving valuable time. 

4. Accountability and commitment. The timeline fosters a shared understanding of expectations, thereby increasing commitment and accountability among team members. 

Remember that clarity is king 

By embracing the power of streamlined timeline management, you can transform your project’s communication landscape. A straightforward approach can simplify complex information and ensure stakeholders remain well-informed throughout the project lifecycle. As you navigate the intricacies of project management, one thing to remember is that clarity is the cornerstone of successful collaboration. 

The author 

Eerik Heijari (EMBA, PMP) is a Senior Advisor at Sofigate with a long history in managing multiple Fortune 500 companies’ priority initiatives globally. He is a certified Project Management Professional and has been working for a US company for multiple years in Chicago, United States. Connect with Eerik on LinkedIn: