How to Create a Project Plan Template in Excel

Preparing a project plan involves a lot of work. You need to write down the project overview, break down the project into actionable steps, define the workflow in terms of timelines and resources and so on. Using an appropriate project plan template can make your work easy and save you a lot of time.

Why do you need a project plan template?

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Using templates improves efficiency and standardizes the project management process. Instead of multiple ad-hoc documents, you get to have a single standard template throughout the organization. Stakeholders can locate information with more accuracy without having to randomly browse through an unfamiliar document.

Using a pre-made template also helps you replicate success of the previous project. It brings in all the best practices and processes you used in your previous project. If your previous project was successful, using its template increases the chances of success for your current project as well. Similarly, if you are using a new template for your current project, you will have an easy tool to replicate its success in future projects of the organization.

How to create a project plan template in Excel

Follow the following steps to create a project plan template in Microsoft Excel or some other spreadsheet:

  1. Create a table: Open the spreadsheet and create a table. Decide the number of columns based on the number of parameters of your project.
  2. Add headers: Keep the first row of the worksheet blank and add headers to your table (title of the table columns) in the second row. For the sake of this example, let’s use these headers: Tasks, Person responsible, Start date, End date, Days required and Status.
  3. Format the headers: Use background colors, alignment and style (font size, bold, italic, underline, etc.) to format the header text.
  4. Add project information: Enter the information in the respective columns. For example, enter all the tasks in the “tasks” column and other corresponding information (person responsible, start date, end date, etc.) in the respective columns. You can use formulas for certain calculations like for computing “the number of days required” based on the start and end dates. This will update the values automatically whenever there is any change in the corresponding values (in this case, start date and end dates).
  5. Format the status column: Use color and other formatting to highlight the progress of different tasks.
  6. Create timelines for the project: Select the start and end date columns and format the cells as “date.” You can also choose further formatting options like autofit, font and color.
  7. Enter the dates: Enter the start and end dates in the corresponding columns.
  8. Make changes as required: Add or delete columns and rows as required. You may also add borders and change the type of fonts.

You can also download a project management template from the Internet and edit it with your project details and formatting. Google Sheets offers an open source alternative to Microsoft Excel.