Creating A Life Cycle

This article covers:

Life Cycle pages are created in Microsoft Visio. To get started open Microsoft Visio and start with a blank page. By default the blank page opens in a portrait format. To change this to landscape, click on the Design tab then on the Orientation and select Landscape.


Setting the page size

The first step is to ensure the page size fits PPO's page size. The steps required to do this will depend on the version of MS Visio installed.

For MS Visio 2007, click on Edit, then on Page Size.

For MS Visio 2010/2013, click on the Design tab, then on the Size icon. Select the More Page Sizes option.


From here the options are the same for both versions - the Page Setup window will open.

Click on the Page Size tab and click on the Custom page size option. The page size can be set up to 366mm x 208mm. If you have not changed the page orientation to landscape, as per step 1, you can also change it here on the Page Setup window. Then click Apply and then OK.


Adding icons

The next step is to add icons to depict the process steps.

With regards to the icons used, we recommend that similar icons be used throughout the Life Cycle pages. For example, when referring to a Document, use this icon that resembles a document.


This will create continuity between the Life Cycle pages and will give users a sense of familiarity

To insert an icon from the icon library, click on the Insert tab and then on the applicable folder containing the icons from your files.  Follow this link to access and download the standard icons.


Search for the icon where it is saved and click on open. Continue to add icons that you need to the  page.


Shapes from Powerpoint can also be copied and pasted into the Visio file.


Adding text

 The following two options can be used to add text to the Life Cycle:

1. Write the required text in Visio using the text box tool.


Once you have added your text, right click on the text and choose Copy.  Then right click on the text again and choose Paste Special. Select the Picture option and then click on OK. This will convert the text into an image.


2. Write the required text captions in another program like Microsoft Word or Microsoft Powerpoint. Then use screen capture software to take a screen capture of the wording and insert the screen capture into the Visio document.  By taking a screen capture of the text, Visio and PPO will see the text as an image and not text, thereby rendering it correctly in all browsers. 

This will have to be done for every piece of text on the Life Cycle page. 

It is a good idea to keep the original text saved somewhere in case any changes have to be made.

Saving and uploading

Every Life Cycle page has to be saved separately as an SVG page. To save a page as an SVG page, click on the Save As option, then change the document type to Scalable Vector Graphics.


Make sure the Scalable Vector Graphics - Compressed option is not selected and make sure that no icon or image is selected when saving the document. If an image is selected when saving, Visio will only save the single image and not the entire page.

Then continue to upload each life cycle page as a separate document on PPO. For more information on uploading documents, see the following knowledge base article.

Important note:  MS Visio shapes and stencils should not be used on Life Cycle pages. MS Visio shapes and stencils carry shape data which cannot be imported into PPO. If MS Visio shapes and stencils are used, the page will most likely produce the following error when uploaded to PPO.


As an alternative, all shapes from Microsoft Powerpoint and all icons from the icon library can be used (for more information, see the following knowledge base article).

Helpful hints

The following is a summary of hints and tips for creating good Life Cycles:

  • Do not make use of Visio shapes and stencils. Rather make use of Powerpoint shapes and the provided icon library.
  • Save all text as images to prevent certain browsers from stretching the wording. If you are not using the screen capture option ensure the font for your text is supported by the browsers and operating systems within your organisation.

  • Ensure no single icon is selected when saving as this will result in the icon alone being saved and not the whole page.
  • All images should be saved in .gif format as this will carry the smallest file size.
  • Page sizes should be kept to a minimum (between 100KB and 180KB). When life cycle pages become too big it takes too long to load when viewing the Life Cycle, which can cause inconvenience to users.
  • Do not group icons on Life Cycle pages. After the Life Cycle pages have been imported into PPO, links will be added to the pages to make them interactive. When icons are grouped together PPO will see them as one image, which means that only one link can be placed on the collective icons. If the icons were not grouped, multiple links will be possible.

Trouble shooting

The following are common errors that occur when creating Life Cycles:

1. Text, icons or shapes don't appear on PPO, but they appear on the page in Visio.

Life Cycle page in Visio:


Life cycle page in PPO (sponsor and project team icons are missing):


The reason for this is that the icons are being hidden behind other shapes, for example, the grey block used in the example above.

To resolve this, right click on the missing icon in Visio and select the Bring to Front option. Even if the icons appear in Visio, do this for good measure to ensure Visio sees them as the first object.


2. An error message is shown when the user clicks on the Life Cycle menu item.


This error normally occurs when Visio shapes and stencils were used.

There are two options to resolving this error. Either the Visio shapes and stencils can be replaced by acceptable shapes and icons, as explained throughout this article, or the shape data can be removed from the applicable icons by selecting the icon, then right-clicking on the icon, then using the paste special option and then selecting the Picture option, as explained earlier in the article.

Examples of Life Cycles

Examples of existing Life Cycles can be found within the PPO screenshots zipped folder by clicking on the following link.

Making the Life Cycle interactive

After all the SVG pages have been uploaded onto PPO and the start up page has been linked, the administrator can proceed in adding additional content and links to the Life Cycle from PPO. This will make the Life Cycle interactive, allowing users to click on process steps to get additional information and links to templates, pages in PPO, websites, e-mail addresses, reports and dashboards.

For more information on making the Life Cycle interactive, see the following knowledge base article.

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