The Office Timeline Add-in can import your data from Microsoft Project and instantly turn it into an easy-to understand PowerPoint visual that you can customize and update with just a few clicks. Here we'll show you exactly how it works. You'll find out:
Read the whole guide to learn the ins and outs of importing from Project, or jump to the chapter you’re interested using the links above.
A) How to bring your Project data into the Office Timeline Add-in
For a successful import, Office Timeline needs from your Project file your tasks' Titles (Names), Start Dates and End Dates (% Complete and Notes are also importable, but they are optional). Below you can see a sample plan in Microsoft Project, which we’ll use to demonstrate how importing works.
Note: To properly identify your milestones, make sure that they are set to a duration of 0 days or that they’re specifically marked as Milestones in your .mpp file.
If you wish to import your data directly as a Swimlane, you will need to add an extra column in your Project file where you’ll add the name of the lane each task or milestone should belong to. Find out more about importing Swimlanes from Project here.
Once you have your plan all set up in Microsoft Project, it's time to load it into the PowerPoint add-in:
Click the Import/Export button on the Office Timeline ribbon in PowerPoint, select Import, and then choose Microsoft Project from the window that pops up.
Then browse to your MS Project file or just drag & drop it into the Import window. Click Next to go to the next step: mapping columns.
B) How to map your data for importing
After loading your .mpp file, Office Timeline should automatically map the Title, Start Date and End Date columns detected in your data, the mandatory columns needed to generate your graphic. In addition, you can also map the % Complete, Notes and Swimlane columns (if available).
Note: In our example above, the headers on the first row are the Office Timeline headers, while the ones on the second row are the corresponding column names we have in our Project file.
If you’d like to use other columns from Project than the ones mapped by default, you can easily remap the data. Simply click the little dropdown arrow above the column you wish to map and select the desired Office Timeline header for it. Here’s for instance, what we’d do if we wanted to use the “Start1” column as the Start Date when importing:
Quick tip: To unmap a column that you don’t want to import, just click the little dropdown by its header and select “Unmap”:
C) Filter your view and select specific rows to import
After you finish mapping columns, you'll get to the Select Rows step, where you can double-check your data and choose exactly what tasks and milestones you want to import.
You can use the checkboxes next to each row to select or deselect specific tasks and milestones, or click the box in the top-left corner of the table to select/deselect all rows in your current view:
If you have a complex plan in MS Project, we'd recommend importing only the most important tasks and milestones (or the summary tasks) to ensure you get a clean timeline that's easy to follow.
For plans that contain summary tasks with subtasks, you can quickly select the whole group by checking the summary task. If you wish to select just the summary task and not its subtasks, hold Ctrl while clicking the checkbox.
Now, when you have a large project with over 50 or even 100 rows of data, we know it can be frustrating to manually tick each box to select the specific tasks you want to import. This is why Office Timeline lets you filter your view so you can quickly choose exactly the rows you need. There are two major ways you can do this:
Use the View menu above the table to choose the hierarchy level you want to keep in view. In our example below, we chose “Level 1” because we want to see just the high-level summary tasks:
Then we can just tick the checkbox in the upper-left corner of the table to select all (and only) the summary tasks we kept in view.
Use the Filter in the top right corner to customize your view exactly how you want it. You can apply up to 3 filters at once, so you can really cherry-pick what to show in the data table.
As a quick example, see below what the filter would look like if, for instance, you wanted to keep in view only your project’s milestones. Once the filter applied, you can quickly select or deselect all milestones.
When you’re happy with the data selected for importing, click the green Import button, and the add-in will instantly generate your PowerPoint timeline, which you can then edit and style as you wish.
Quick tip: Whenever your MS Project data changes, you can easily refresh your timeline data to match the changes in your source .mpp file. Just follow these simple steps.
If you encounter any issues or need assistance importing your Project data into Office Timeline, don't hesitate to contact us. We'll be happy to help!