Excel for Project Management [Best Use Cases and Templates]

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Last updated on
31st Oct, 2022
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21st Jul, 2022
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Excel for Project Management [Best Use Cases and Templates]

Excel's accessibility, familiarity, and affordability make it a popular project management tool for small groups and organisations. Additionally, the variety of Excel project management templates increases employee productivity. Managing a project efficiently requires formalizing strategies and measuring performance. Therefore using Excel for project management is a good option.

If you’re interested in knowing the tools for project management, find out the details about project management courses. These will teach you the skills and necessary tools you need to professionally manage projects. 

When Excel is the Best Choice?

There is a large array of project management software available which provides you with a huge load of features. However, you may not need all of those tools for your project management needs.

This is because simpler projects might not require advanced tools and they may just moreover complicate the whole procedure of working on a project. 

Some of the reasons why you should use Excel for project management are: 

  1. You Operate as a Solo Act: When you are like a solo entrepreneur you do not need software that is packed with features for larger firms. For instance, you have a startup that initially launches at a small scale and few workers. In this case, you do not need fancy software but rather something that is easier to operate. 
  2. You Want it Simple: Even the simplest software for project management has a learning curve that you will need to overcome. But with Excel, you can track and process all kinds of information without hassle. 
  3. You Want to Keep it Budget-friendly: If Excel satisfies your requirements, you will save plenty of funds by forgoing specialised software because that money is directly deducted from your budget. 

When Should You Use Excel for Project Management?

Consider all the steps you must take to successfully complete a project, including time management, capacity planning, tasks and accomplishments, etc. Excel helps get all these tasks done without you having to go through a complex learning procedure like other project management software.

You could also use the templates available in Excel to manage the various aspects of a project. Microsoft Excel has always been excellent at organising, analysing, and calculations. Therefore it is one of the most used platforms for budgeting and managing large data sets 

Also, If your project deals with a smaller number of members and doesn’t require a complex system to keep track of, Excel is your go-to software. Also, if you don’t like managing multiple projects and prefer focusing on one, then Excel is a perfect choice.

On the other hand, if you work with a company and want to expand your project management skill set, taking a project management professional certification course and learning the advanced tools and tactics will be the right way to go. 

Disadvantages of Managing Projects in Excel

Of course, everything has pros and cons and so does Excel. Sometimes managing simple projects in Excel also may not seem fruitful. Here are a few disadvantages of using Excel for managing projects: 

  1. Lack of Communication Features: Excel is the only spreadsheet without any communication methods. It can be difficult to communicate with clientele as well as other teammates. 
  2. Lack of Collaboration Tools: Excel does not support file or report sharing. To send files, you must employ a hosting service file. However, file sharing is already integrated into the majority of PM tools
  3. Clutter of Data: Spreadsheets gather a bunch of content over time. Seldom do clients and the majority of team members require the need for all this data. Therefore, Excel users sometimes take a lot of time when looking for data. 

Excel Project Management Use Cases

Although Excel's tools weren't created with program management in mind, unlike some applications, it can still be used to manage daily tasks, plan finances, as well as trace out even the project plan. The following is a list of Excel’s use cases in project management:

1. Timeline

By the use of Excel, you can make a road map of the project schedule and phases, a graphic timeline chart can also be produced in this. Gantt chart is a famous management method that plots functions according to the duration taken for their completion and the start and finish time.

To offer you a true overview of the project's timetable and deadlines, the timeline tracker template comes with horizontal blocks for each task that are arranged beside one another.

It takes some practice to use the schedule template in Excel and other planning techniques, but they don't just create a series of due dates and make the process convenient. 

2. Budget

Excel is equipped especially well for creating a detailed budget because it excels at making this process to determine numbers easier. Bigger projects would exceed the functionalities of the application, so it comes in handy for mid sized projects.

Also, If you just wish to track the expenses and income simultaneously, simply creating a budget in Excel will do the needful. If you wish to notch up the level of budgeting and go for intricate budgets, Excel can also do that.

3. Task List

Project management dashboard Excel template free can help you create and manage daily activities with the aid of an Excel work plan or task list. You can also create it daily to keep everyone posted on the advances in the project.

In the task list that you have created, you can have entries like task descriptions, resources required, the employee assigned and other details in these in a simple or automated and dynamic way. 

One of the striking features of Excel is also that it provides these project management excel templates free of cost.

4. Project Tracking

Excel can be used for project tracking as soon as the project is on the roll to handle any issues arising. You can make section tracking details like: 

  • Project title
  • Tasks to be performed
  • The manager assigned to it 
  • Project duration 
  • Progress made 
  • Budget 
  • Expenditure and other pertinent information 

This helps you display the status of duties, manage the budget and track other information. Then, using this information, you can make graphs showing the position and development of projects. It is the best way to gain insight from the data you track.

5. Project Analysis

Once you have gathered all the data the next thing in line is analysing and arranging all of it so as to make reports. This will help you analyse the advancement of your project.

The generation of these reports is automatic with the help of various tools and number crunching templates that can be found on the project management dashboard in Excel.

It is done on the basis of the entries you select in Excel, giving you limitless customisation. It's challenging, but once you figure it all out, you will be able to pump out reports with ease. 

Best Project Management Templates & Spreadsheets for Excel

While using a project management dashboard, excel provides templates free of cost which makes the task easier. This makes managing projects hassle-free and transforms your plain spreadsheets into intricate project spreadsheets. Some of the best templates and spreadsheets are: 

1. Gantt Chart Template

A Gantt Chart can be termed as a visual tool. It makes it easy to glance at their schedules, interdependencies and timelines. It is a fantastic template for project planning. 

Download the Gantt Chart Template here.

2. Project Status Report Template 

You are handling blindly if you lack accurate information about what is taking place while carrying out the project. You are unaware of your progress or whether resources are really being restricted, whatever is the case, it will affect the quality of your work.

With the help of this template, you can greatly enhance communications over project processes with the team members as well as with partners when giving presentations.

Download the Weekly Project Status Report Template

Download the Monthly Project Status Report Template

3. Work Breakdown Structure Template

An efficient project is made up of deliverables which are then made up of tasks. The WBS template specifies all the details of the project like tasks, subtasks and these deliverables.

Download the Work Breakdown Structure Template here!

4. Action Plan Template

To finish the accomplishment of an objective, a project starts. However, in order to effectively execute a strategic plan, there must first be a plan of action. With this tool, you can cover all the bases and initiate your project the right way.

Download the Action Plan Template

5. Risk Register Template

Project management involves the management of risk. The task entails foreseeing potential risks and finding solutions to put the task back on schedule.

You assess the risk's threshold and designate an employee for the same, this will make sure that someone will be in charge of keeping tabs on it. 

Download the Risk Register Template.

Conclusion

If you are in doubt and wish to know whether Excel is the right choice for you or not then try it out for yourself. To test whether Excel could really handle it, quickly create a timeframe, schedule, list of activities, and cost estimate using numerous spreadsheets.

Try your hand at producing unique reports. Imagine how a task would be managed using Excel on a daily basis. These steps will take some time, but they will help you determine whether Excel is sufficient for your firm and projects or if you would require other software for project management. 

Also, check out the article on how to build a project management timeline

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. Can I use Excel for project management?

Yes, you can use Excel for project management and rather it is one of the most accessible ways to initiate a project as it facilitates the quick listing of all your tasks, and their organisation, as well as the creation of an outlook that replicates Gantt Chart.

2. Why Excel is not good for project management?

Some of the reasons that make Excel is considered inadequate by some is that working with it is time-consuming as information is cluttered. Also, progress tracking is difficult with no means of communication and a lack of collaboration tools.

3. What is the best Excel template for project management?

There are various templates in excel that are used for multiple purposes, some of the best Excel templates are: Multiple Project Tracking, Action Item Template, Budgeting Template, Report Templates, and Gantt Chart Template.

4. How do I create a project plan in Excel? 

Creating a project plan in Excel is very simple. Firstly, you create table headers and enter all the relevant project information. Now add different colours to highlight the status of your project. Next, create a timeline for the project, add the final touches, and you are good to go.

5. What are the 5 stages of a project?

So the 5 stages of a project are: conceptualising and initiating the project, defining the vision and mission statements of the project, launching and executing the project, tracking the performance of the project, closing the project and making reports. 

6. How do I create a simple project schedule in Excel?

For creating a simple project schedule, click on insert and select your choice of SmartArt Graphic and click on process. Click on Basic Timeline and start adding various fields and editing the text. 

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Preethiga Narasimman

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Due to her interest in Search Engine Optimization, she started her career as an SEO Intern and have contributed to the healthy digital presence for multiple brands with her mastery over web and YT search algorithms. In her free time, she plays with her Persian cat, and she loves fishkeeping. She is also good at making craftworks, painting, and cooking.