Over 98% of project managers said they used software for project planning in 2020. And a key feature that most project planning tools offer is the timeline.

In project management, a timeline is a visual overview of all project tasks arranged in chronological order. The feature helps project managers (PMs) see task and project progress at a single glance.

Online timeline software allows users to add and edit tasks, and milestones on a dynamic bar chart.

We’ve listed 3 leading free timeline software in this article to get you started. And, to give you the full picture, we’ve also listed why monday.com — a paid timeline maker — is a great choice for any team.

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The top 3 free timeline softwares

We compiled a few of the leading free timeline software providers:

1. Office Timeline Online

Teams can use Office Timeline to build timelines and roadmaps for Microsoft PowerPoint presentations.

The web-based timeline maker has the following features:

  • Simple timelines: You can create a project overview timeline that shows the start and end dates, along with events and milestones
  • Templates: The online platform offers varying templates to help PMs kick start their project roadmap
  • Tasks: Create tasks with color labels, dates, and descriptions. Move them around the timeline to reschedule.
  • Downloads: Download a watermarked image of your timeline and share it manually with team members

If you want to create a straightforward timeline, then the free version of Office Timeline is a useful tool. The free plan has limited functionality and no collaborative features, however, so it may work best for solo projects or short team assignments.

2. Preceden

Preceden is an interactive timeline maker that helps individuals and small teams create professional timelines.

The platform’s main features are:

  • Clean interface: Preceden’s platform has a neat and organized interface where you can find what you want and avoid clutter.
  • Layers: You can use their Layers function to sort tasks or events by assignees or similar descriptions. And you can assign custom colors to each layer for stronger differentiation.
  • Flexibility: Drag and drop tasks on date ranges to reschedule them, zoom into specific time periods for a better overview, and create custom color palettes for your projects.
  • Quick sharing: Download the timeline you create in different formats or use the URL to share or embed it on your website.

One thing to note: Preceden’s free version limits users to 1 timeline with 10 events. Teams looking for a solution that can manage organization-wide project management may need a more robust option.

3. Venngage

Venngage is an infographic maker and timelines are just one of the many visual graphics you can create on the platform.

The software’s primary features for timeline creation are:

  • Templates: There are 40+ timeline templates for users to choose from. Managers can pick one of the templates to get started.
  • Icons, fonts, and charts: Add icons, use custom fonts, and utilize charts to create a visual timeline that engages readers while outlining project details.
  • Drag-and-drop editor: Quickly edit sections of your timeline with the software’s intuitive drag-and-drop editor.
  • Sharing: Download your timeline as a PNG file or use a private link to share it with team members.

Venngage’s free plan limits users to five designs, no exporting, and only public sharing. The tool is a solid option for creating basic timelines for newsletters or meetings, though perhaps not a comprehensive project timeline.

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Why a paid timeline software is the best choice

Capterra has reported that task management, project tracking, collaboration, and time tracking were the most used features in a project management tool.

And a free timeline maker can help with one or two of these — particularly if you combine them with a few other tools — but they may lack the capabilities of all three features.

We’ll explore seven critical features of a more advanced solution below.

1. Supporting features

Supporting features enable the seamless execution of multiple projects. A dedicated project management platform, like monday.com, supports timelines with task management, automatic updates, automation, and integrations — all of which are essential for team members to get the job done on-time and within budget.

Supporting features help enhance team collaboration and productivity.

Let’s take automation for example. Modern project automation eliminates repetitive, manual tasks from your team’s workload, leaving them free to work on more important assignments.

Here’s a snapshot of how automations look in monday.com:

monday.com automation

2. Detailed task management

Team members looking through your project timeline for task details and files… Managers trying to track a large number of tasks manually… Stakeholders trying to understand the big picture…

All of these factors take time and resources and can even result in late-night emails asking for updates.

A free timeline maker may not enable file sharing and collaboration across teams that provides all stakeholders transparency.

With monday.com, every task can have file attachments, comments, descriptions, status indicators, progress indicators, and more — everything a worker, manager, or stakeholder needs is right in front of them.

monday.com at a glance

Managers can also group tasks by priority, see exactly who they’re assigned to, what stage of the project they’re in, and more.

3. Collaboration

For example, a detailed project board will provide transparency and ensure all team members know what is happening:

collaboration on monday.com

Comment threads within every task and project-based discussion boards ensure all work-related communication is happening in context and in one centralized space.

All of these features help build trust and keep team members on the same page. They also eliminate the need for lengthy email chains.

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4. Project tracking

PMs need to track tasks and project progress, along with key performance indicators (KPIs), quickly.

project tracking on monday.com

With monday.com’s dynamic interface, managers get access to multiple views — including a timeline. Different views ensure everyone can quickly grasp project demands.

Managers can track overall progress via real-time updates and identify any potential issues.

5. Time tracking

A free timeline maker can help you make a colorful timeline, but project managers can benefit most from features like time tracking to track progress and measure productivity.

monday.com time tracker

Tracking the amount of time spent on a task allows workers and managers to measure their productivity. It also provides insight into work habits.

These insights foster an environment of constant progression, in which workflows and project processes are updated to meet team needs.

For example, if many people on a team fail to meet task deadlines or fall behind estimated times, maybe a change in the workflow is needed.

monday.com enables managers to track the impact of any changes to the workflow in real-time, allowing managers to see what works best for their team.

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6. Centralized data

Why use different apps to create timelines, communicate, and track goals, when you can use one solution for all the above?

monday.com project management

monday.com is a comprehensive work management software that streamlines the entire workflow and helps avoid miscommunication by allowing teams to handle timelines, tasks, communication, resources, and budgets in one place.

7. Customer support

Project management is extremely time-sensitive. Companies can even lose clients due to missed deadlines.

In such a fast-paced field, teams need to immediately raise flags for software glitches.

At monday.com, we understand that PMs lose valuable time waiting for customer support to get back to them. So we provide it immediately, regardless of the time.

monday.com’s expert customer support team helps resolve issues 24/7 no matter which payment plan you’re on, because we know that good customer support should never be restricted.

But what about timelines?

monday.com also offers an awesome, visually-oriented timeline view of your projects and task list.

For a breakdown, check out the following video:

Project management is more than a timeline

monday.com is a Work OS that helps create and edit interactive timelines effortlessly.

With project templates for different niches, never-ending task and project customizations, in-task comments and discussion boards, workflow automation, and seamless integrations, teams have everything they need to optimize their workflows and keep teams productive.

Check out our features with a free 2-week trial of our project timeline template.

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