Updated by Tina Sieber on 28 September 2017.
Project management is the discipline of planning, organizing, and managing resources to bring about the successful completion of specific project goals and objectives. Without setting measurable goals and keeping track of various efforts and resources, projects don’t stand a chance of seeing a successful completion.
There are many useful tools out there for project management. One such program you can utilize to keep track of your projects is Microsoft Excel. With Excel’s free templates, you can turn your simple spreadsheets into project management charts and forms.
In this article, I will cover a few of the most useful Microsoft Excel project management tracking templates as well as how to find and install them.
First, let’s see what templates you already have installed in Microsoft Excel. For the purpose of this demonstration, we’ve used Excel 2016, but the procedure is similar in Microsoft Office 2013.
When you start up Microsoft Excel, the first window you see will contain a search field for online templates. When you’re starting from an existing workbook, go to File > New to arrive at the same view.
Microsoft Excel comes with a selection of pre-installed templates. They are listed underneath the search field. You can pin favorite ones by clicking the respective symbol in the bottom right of the listing.
Search Online Templates
The fastest way to finding the kind of template you need is searching for it. Once you start a search, for example for the term project, you will also see template categories listed next to the templates that match your search.
Narrow Down Your Search
A neat feature is that you can narrow down your search by selecting multiple categories. This helps you exclude templates that may match your keyword, but not your desired category. On the downside, you may find that the perfect template is not available in Microsoft Excel.
Preview & Create Your Template
When you click a template, you’ll see a preview with a brief description of what the template provides. You can also pin the template from its preview; the symbol sits in the top right.
To download and use a template, click the Create button, which will open a new Microsoft Excel workbook with the template pre-filled.
Project Management Templates
Now let’s have a look at a few Microsoft Excel project management templates.
Microsoft Excel has its own category for business plans.
Start by using the default business search, then select the Business Plans category.
In addition to a couple of marketing plans, you’ll find the following Microsoft Excel templates:
- Startup expenses
- Business plan checklist
- Business plan checklist with SWOT analysis
A search for planners will bring up a wild mix of personal and business-related templates, including 113 planners and trackers.
Narrow down your search by selecting the categories that relate to the project management task you’re dealing with. By combining the search for planners with the Projects category, you’ll find 16 candidates across the Microsoft Office suite. Six of these are Microsoft Excel templates.
Have a look at the following three:
- Weekly time planner
- Gantt project planner
- Project cost tracker
You can continue this search strategy, i.e. combine search terms and categories, until you find the perfect template. Keywords you might want to try are project, gantt, time, and schedule.
Search for Online Templates
Couldn’t find the template you need in Microsoft Excel? You can also turn to a third-party online resource to find the perfect Microsoft Excel template.
This website has a few great project management templates for Microsoft Office 2003 and up. The site notes that its templates are mostly related to project scheduling and anything more complicated might require Microsoft Project or other project management software.
On the page dedicated to project management, you’ll find a list of useful material, including, but not limited to, the following:
Each page contains a quick rundown of what the template does, one or more templates, and further tips and tricks for the respective project management tool. It’s a great resource for budding project managers.
TidyForm has a respectable selection of Microsoft Excel project management templates. The most popular categories are listed on the homepage. If you can’t immediately spot what you need, switch to the Business section or try the search feature.
When you scroll to the bottom of a section, you’ll see a list of popular categories and related categories. This can be helpful when trying to find just the right template.
We recommend the following pages:
Still looking for the perfect template? You might have to create a custom Excel template.
Template Ready, Set, Go
We have covered a lot of project management tips and tricks the past. Once you’re good with templates, you might want to consider additional tools and solutions. For example, did you know that Outlook is great for project management? Likewise, you could use OneNote for project management. And you could integrate OneNote with Outlook for project management? The possibilities are endless.
Whatever you do, before you start a project, prepare a Work Breakdown Structure.
Have our resources helped you find a template you can use for your project management needs? What other apps besides Microsoft Excel do you like to use for managing your projects?
Please leave your thoughts, ideas, and comments below.
Originally written by Steve Campbell on 12 July 2010.