This article will explore how Microsoft Excel can be used for project management, as well as some free templates available to help with project management.

When is Excel a Good Option for Project Management?

Even though Excel most likely won’t be the only tool most Project Managers use for project management, there are many benefits to using this spreadsheet application for various project-related tasks. One perk is cost. Most project management software platforms are very expensive and can cost thousands of dollars a year to use. While Excel isn’t typically marketed as a tool for project management, many of its templates, functions, and features have applications for project tracking. 

If you are deciding whether Excel is the best application for your project management needs, there are certain instances when Excel is the best option for a Project Manager:

  • When you are working alone or with just a few others. If you work at a small contractor firm, either alone or with just a handful of others, odds are you don’t need an expensive project management platform with features that aren’t relevant to your professional needs. Excel provides many of the necessary tools and is included as part of a Microsoft 365 subscription. 
  • When you want to work with a platform that’s easy to use. Unlike many platforms created exclusively for project management, Excel is much easier to learn how to use and doesn’t have such a steep learning curve. This app provides Project Managers with the necessary tools to enter materials orders, man-hours, task lists, or anything else that must be tracked right into a spreadsheet.

How Do Project Managers Use Excel?

Microsoft Excel has various tools, features, and templates that help Project Managers organize and monitor all aspects of a project as they move toward completion. Excel provides straightforward project management spreadsheets, project trackers, or project management dashboards. In addition, data in Excel that contains pertinent communications with internal stakeholders and clients can be transformed into PowerPoint slides and shared. 

The following are a few Excel templates designed to help Project Managers manage project-related tasks, such as budgeting, project reviews, project tracking, and scheduling:

  • Action plan template. A clear strategy is essential for helping a Project Manager satisfy a project’s goals within a specific timeframe. This is where the action plan template is useful. It provides Project Managers with a framework with which to assign and prioritize tasks, as well as to monitor their completion status. 
  • Project review template. Project reviews are an important element of a Project Manager’s job. They often take place at the conclusion of a project phase in order to review the project’s status. Excel spreadsheets can be used to document and disperse the findings from these reviews, as well as provide an overview of important information pertaining to completed or outstanding deliverables, financial information, and risk management, among others. Excel provides Project Managers with an easy platform to keep track of project progress and share their findings with internal and external stakeholders. 
  • Issue tracker template. When an issue arises during a project, it must be dealt with as soon as possible to avoid delays or complications. With the help of the issue tracker template, Excel users can track issues so that they can be resolved in a timely fashion. Not only does it identify potential problems as they occur, but it documents how the issue was resolved as well. 
  • Sprint project tracker template. Project Managers can use Excel to plan and monitor a project from conception to completion. They can also use the project tracker template to flag tasks that are time-sensitive and therefore should be prioritized. This template includes a project’s start and finish date, as well as the duration of all included tasks and the percentage of work that has been completed. It uses color-coding to visually signify various tasks’ status. 
  • Project budget template. One of the most important components of successfully completing any project is having the financial backing to do so. The project budget template provides a color-coded way to track a project’s budget over the course of its lifecycle. It measures all costs, such as materials, labor, and carry-over expenses, to ensure that budget estimates are as accurate as possible.
  • Project schedule template. The project schedule spreadsheet template in Excel provides Project Managers with an overview of all the tasks required to finish a project on time. It also has options for managing a project hour-by-hour to indicate how much time remains to finish a task, as well as any tasks that are late for completion.
  • Work breakdown structure template. Work breakdown structure helps Project Managers visualize various components of a project, such as tasks, subtasks, and deliverables. This template is an excellent resource for estimating the costs associated with completing a project, as well as establishing a feasible schedule. 
  • Change request form template. No matter the size or scope of a project, one constant all Project Managers can count on is that there will be changes that must be managed. The change request form template can spot, monitor, and resolve any changes to a project. It provides Project Managers with space to take notes on what the change is, as well as to assign it to a team member in order to get it resolved.

Using Microsoft Excel for project management is an affordable, accessible alternative to purchasing costly project management platforms. 

Learn More About Excel with Hands-On Classes

If you want to learn more about how Excel can be used for project management, Noble Desktop currently offers a variety of Excel courses in NYC and live online. Classes are available for those who are new to Excel, as well as learners who regularly work with this spreadsheet application and wish to brush up on their skills. In addition, there are also in-person and live online Excel courses available through Noble Desktop or one of its affiliate schools. A variety of course options are offered, ranging in duration from three hours to two days and costing between $229 and $1,099. 

Noble Desktop’s Excel Bootcamp provides a great option for those who want to master core Excel concepts, such as working with VLOOKUP and PivotTables, as well as performing What-If Analysis. Students who enroll in this rigorous, 21-hour course can elect to study in person in Manhattan or learn in the live online environment. This small class comes with the option of a free retake and covers a variety of Excel concepts applicable to the business world. 

Those interested in studying project management close to home can also browse over 220 in-person and virtual project management classes in a city near you to find local study options.