Looking for a project management template?
Project management templates can help a project manager save tons of time when creating new projects. As they don’t have to start from scratch, the template helps them eliminate repetitive, tedious work.
But there’s a problem.
There are hundreds of templates out there (in excel and other formats) and not every free template is going to suit every project manager!
Luckily, we can diagnose your project needs and prescribe you with the right templates for it.
In this article, we’ll cover what a project management template is, why you need them, and highlight 10 useful excel templates for different project management needs. We’ll also cover how a project management tool can help you manage multiple projects effectively.
As a bonus, we’ll take some help from Princeton Plainsboro’s best diagnostician — Dr. House, from the show House M.D.!
This Article Contains:
(click on the links below to jump to a specific section)
- What is a project management template?
- Why do you need a project management template?
- 10 free project management templates (for MS Excel)
- Project charter template
- Work schedule template
- Project timeline template
- Project budget templates
- Project status report template
- Timesheet template
- 3 reasons why you shouldn’t use Excel for project management
- How a project management tool helps you manage projects efficiently
Let’s get started!
What is a Project Management Template?
A project management template is a sheet with placeholders that help you document various project activities, like:
- Project planning
- Setting goals
- Creating work schedules
- Managing costs
- Assigning tasks
- Tracking project status
But how useful are they in real-life projects? And can they impress even Dr. House?
Let’s find out…
Why Do You Need a Project Management Template?
Excel templates can make it really easy for you to start working on projects, especially recurring projects that are similar in nature.
Now of course, it’s unimaginably easier to manage projects with dedicated free project management tools like ClickUp.
However let’s understand how Excel templates can help in the beginning of your project management journey, by taking a look at our good friend House for an example.
Whenever House gets a new patient, what’s the first thing that he gets?
The patient’s medical report!
It’s a record with placeholders for their medical history, symptoms, blood type and other data.
Since all this information is readily available to him, House can start diagnosing their problems immediately.
However, if he didn’t have their medical report, House would have to manually ask the patient for all this data which requires a tremendous amount of patience… something he isn’t known for!
Similarly, there’s a lot that goes into starting a project.
You need to create a project proposal, define your project scope, create a breakdown structure, and more!
If you do this manually, every time you start a new project, you won’t have any time left to actually work on your assignments!
However, if a project manager has a set of templates, they can quickly input their project data and get started immediately.
This way, you don’t have to waste time setting things up from scratch every time around.
Here are some Excel templates that are designed for basic project management:
10 Free Project Management Templates
Before we highlight some useful templates, note that Excel has some limitations.
Excel was never built for project management.
It’s like saying House was built to be a motorcycle rider!
However, it does offer some free project management templates you could use to manage projects easily.
But wait… how do you access them?
Open MS Excel, click on the ‘New’ tab and then type ‘project’ in the search bar on the right.
You’ll get access to any project template Excel has, like:
- Tracker template
- Gantt chart template
- To-do list template
- Status report template
- Budget template
- Project plan template
Let’s take a closer look at some of these templates:
A. Project charter template
Hospitals need to create a patient chart for every new patient that visits them.
Similarly, a project manager needs to create a project charter before starting any project.
What is a project charter?
A project charter is a short formal document that describes your entire project.
Created during project planning, the charter:
- Gives the project sponsor, team and key stakeholders a clear overview of the project scope and its deliverables
- Outlines what work will be done in the project (i.e., the project plan)
- Defines the project budget
Here’s a simple template you can use to create a project charter quickly:
NYU project charter template
This is an easy and visually pleasing charter template to help you create high-level summaries of your project. You can describe your project scope and even rate project risks based on their severity (high, low, med).
Click here to download this project template.
B. Work schedule template
Creating and managing schedules isn’t something that only doctors do.
As a project manager, you need to keep track of your team’s work schedule.
You need to track:
- What task each team member needs to work on
- What days they should work on
- How many hours your team has to put in to keep up with the project schedule
House could use this template to split the patient workload among Chase, Cameron and Foreman to ensure that he has nothing to do!
Based on the level of details that you require, here are two work schedule formats you could choose from:
1. Weekly schedule template
A basic five-day schedule template that you can use to keep track of your team’s work activities.
Click here to download it.
2. Daily work schedule template
This daily work schedule format helps you manage your team’s day-to-day activities by the hour. It also has a to-do list template for better task management.
Click here to download this schedule template.
C. Project timeline template
You know the standard story arch for every House episode, right?
Patient falls ill.
Patient gets better.
Patient falls ill again.
Patient gets better again.
It’s not predictable at all!
Similarly, your project is going to go through phases and you need to constantly track your project progress to ensure that it stays on track.
But how do you do that?
You use a timeline template!
A timeline template can track each project phase as your project moves towards its finish line.
This way, you’ll know what stage your project is at all times.
Here are two project timeline templates you could use:
1. Four-week timeline template
This template lets you color-code your project timeline to differentiate between different categories of tasks. You can also update your project status in this template.
Click here to download this timeline format.
2. Project timeline with project milestones
This timeline template uses a visual project timeline chart to help track your project milestones.
Click here to download this project template.
D. Project budget templates
Patients aren’t the only ones who need to worry about bills!
In project management, determining the project budget is crucial for any project’s success.
Project budget templates can help a project sponsor and the team:
- Analyze project expenses
- Make strategic resource allocation decisions
- Identify potential budget risks
Here’s a budget template that you can use for software development projects::
Axia project budget template
Suitable for IT projects, this budget template considers various costs like software, hardware, network, and customer support.
Click here to download this project budget format.
E. Project status report template
We all know how House likes to slack off at work:
However, from time-to-time, even House needs to get serious and check-in on the status of his patient to make sure his boss, Cuddy, doesn’t freak out.
Likewise, a project manager must make a status report to regularly update the stakeholders about the project’s progress.
And the quickest way to do that is by using a report template.
It helps you:
- Map your task progress
- Alert your team about change requests or issues in the project
- Keep track of all completed and upcoming project milestones
Here are two pre-made templates that you could use to create a project status report:
1. Basic project status report template
This report template can track the project’s main tasks, budget, and issues to keep your stakeholders updated.
Click here to download it.
2. Monthly status report template
Use this report template to list your milestones, financial data, and other statuses at the end of each month. It also contains a separate report that can be used solely for internal reporting purposes.
Click here to download it.
F. Timesheet template
As they’re busy saving lives, doctors might not have the time to regularly look at their timesheets!
However, as a project manager, you always need to keep an eye on your team’s timesheet.
Timesheets will not only help you monitor your team’s productivity but also help bill your clients or project sponsor accurately.
So here are two templates that can help you out here:
1. Basic timesheet template
It’s a simple timesheet template designed to track your team’s regular and overtime hours.
Click here to download this free template.
2. Weekly timesheet template
This template helps you keep track of a team member’s activity for an entire week, including additional details about their projects, like billable hours.
Click here to download it.
And that’s all the templates you need!
But using Excel, or even a Google sheet, isn’t the best way to manage any project.
Let’s find out why…
3 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Use Excel For Project Management
The templates we discussed so far can help you manage your projects in Excel or a Google sheet. But remember, these tools were never built for project or task management!
But don’t just take our word for it.
Here are three reasons why you should stop using Excel to manage projects:
A. Availability of free project management software
What if you could have Dr. House as your doctor for free?
Would you still consider anyone else?
And remember, they’re built for project management.
It’s what they’re made to do.
From designing a project management plan and creating a to-do list to keeping an eye on your status report or managing multiple projects — they can help you with anything you need.
Say goodbye to relying on those pre-made templates!
B. Excel templates are difficult to customize
While House MD might be formulaic in structure, when it comes to the cases, they’re actually quite unique.
No case is like the other, and there’s no standard way to solve each of them.
It’s one of the reasons why House needs to employ creative techniques like this:
Similarly, a business case may also need out-of-the-box thinking.
Certain projects are going to be unique with different needs and requirements.
However, as every Excel template is pre-built, you can’t customize them according to your project needs.
For example, if your stakeholders ask for a particular invoice format and you can’t find it online — you’re done for!
C. There’s no automation to solve tedious manual data entry
While House is hardly the model employee, he does have a point about the irrelevance of tedious data entry work.
No project manager wants to sit in front of a computer and spend hours entering project data manually!
You need to spend time on activities where your input is actually required, like signing off on project deliverables or analyzing productivity reports.
Unfortunately, all Excel templates require you to input all data manually.
For example, an Excel timesheet requires you and your project team to manually log data each time they sign in, take a break, or sign out.
That’s like throwing your productivity out the window!
More Excel limitations
You didn’t think we were done, did you?
These aren’t the only reasons why you shouldn’t use Excel to manage your projects.
It has so many limitations as a project management tool that we can’t detail everything in this article!
So here’s a quick look at some more drawbacks of Excel:
- No to-do lists for individual team members: each member will have to create their own checklists in separate apps which complicate task management
- No automation for project tracking: you’ll have to manually follow-up on task updates which can be super exhausting
- Mobile viewing is inconvenient: viewing large spreadsheets on a mobile’s screen is next to impossible and will only strain your eyes
- Causes communication gaps: your team members can’t make task-specific comments in Excel which limits collaboration
- No advanced reporting tools: Excel doesn’t give you any detailed reports to analyze your team’s productivity
- Excel might crash: if too many team members try to work on the same spreadsheet at the same time, Excel tends to crash
- Access rights are not customizable: access rights in Excel are pretty binary — you can either give someone full editing rights or just viewing rights. There’s no way to tweak these rights further.
How A Dedicated Project Management Tool Helps You Manage Projects Efficiently
While an Excel template can help you out, they can’t eliminate all the issues with Excel project management.
I mean, you wouldn’t put your loved ones (projects) in the hands of someone who isn’t a specialist (Excel), right?
Instead, you need to use powerful Agile project management tools like ClickUp that were built for managing multiple projects!
But what’s ClickUp?
Used by 100,000+ teams in companies from startups to titans like Airbnb, Netflix, Nike, and Google, this management tool has everything your project’s need.
Whether you need to plan your work breakdown structure, manage project deliverables, or track your remote team’s performance — ClickUp has got you covered!
In fact, it solves so many of your project needs that House is having a hard time coming up with a sarcastic response:
Here’s what this Agile project management tool has in store for you:
If you want to get things done, you need a good view of it first, right?
Likewise, you need to view your project tasks easily to monitor how they’re doing.
ClickUp’s Multiple Views can help you get the perfect overviews for your project tasks:
Here’s what your Workspace can look like in ClickUp:
- List View: Great for teams who prefer viewing their project dashboard as a GTD-style to-do list
- Board View: Visualize tasks Kanban-style on your project dashboard
- Calendar View: Plan and manage your project schedule across a calendar
- Box View: Displays tasks sorted by assignee to know who is working on what quickly
- Me Mode: Shows you the tasks that were only assigned to you
Try getting that level of flexibility in Excel or a Google sheet!
B. Tasks, Subtasks, and Checklists
Most medical cases involve several working – or should we say – “broken” parts.
Similarly, an Agile project also has a lot of moving gears.
From project deliverables to work breakdown plans… the list is endless!
Luckily, ClickUp allows you to dissect any complex project into Tasks, Subtasks and Checklists to tackle it like an expert surgeon.
Here’s how it works:
- Tasks and Subtasks: split your entire project into smaller tasks and subtasks. Now, your project team can work on the project step-by-step instead of tackling it as a whole.
- Checklists: build a simple to-do list to map out small tasks and quality-check items under any task. Your team members can then check them off as they progress quickly.
Sounds much more effective and organized than any Excel to-do list template, right?
C. Automated progress charts
A doctor needs a chart to keep up with how their patient is doing and an Agile project manager needs charts to keep track of their project progress.
However, using Excel tracking tools like an Excel Gantt chart template are extremely impractical.
You must first find the right template, manually enter all data, pray you don’t make any mistakes, and repeat the entire process every time!
In fact, there are so many drawbacks, that using it might make Cuddy say this:
You might need an MRI after that!
Luckily, ClickUp can save you this trouble with its automated and interactive Gantt Chart.
ClickUp’s Gantt chart feature gives you a visual overview of a project’s progress over a time period. Unlike the boring Gantt chart from an Excel chart template, these charts are easy and super fun to use.
Moreover, these Gantt charts provide tons of automation to make task management a breeze.
- Automatically adjust task due dates and dependencies according to any change in the project schedule
- Calculate your critical path to identify what tasks you must do to meet your project deadline
- Calculate your project’s progress percentage based on finished tasks vs. total tasks
- Compare your current project progress with its expected progress
But wait… there’s more.
ClickUp also offers other visual graphs to help you track progress, like:
- Burndown Charts: show the amount of work remaining in the project
- Burnup Charts: display the amount of work already completed in the project
- Velocity Charts: gauge how fast your team is completing their project tasks
- Cumulative Flow charts: show how the project is progressing over a period of time
D. Comment sections
Despite taking all the credit, House still needs to communicate with his team effectively to solve his cases.
He can’t do it all by himself!
Sorry House, but it’s the truth.
Similarly, a project manager also needs to discuss complex project details with their team members to keep the project alive.
How do you do that?
In ClickUp, every task comes with a built-in comment section, which lets team members have task-specific discussions.
The Comment feature can help you:
- Clarify what needs to be done in a task
- Address any problem with the right context
- Share relevant files about the project tasks
But when you’re leaving comments, how to ensure that they don’t go unnoticed?
Using ClickUp’s Assigned Comments!
Use this feature to quickly convert your comments into project tasks that can be assigned to any team member. The assigned member then gets a notification and it shows up on their task tray, making it impossible to miss!
Once they’re done with the task, they can resolve the comment to avoid needless follow-ups.
House’s team always needs a status report on every patient to ensure that everything’s going well.
Similarly, a project manager needs to know the project status of their tasks at all times.
However, if you’re using the Excel management tool, you’ll have to manually ask your project team for status updates.
That’s going to be time-consuming and super annoying, right?
Instead, just use ClickUp!
ClickUp lets you create customizable task statuses to help keep track of your project tasks easily.
For example, if you’re working on a Scrum or Agile project over software development, you can create a project phase like “beta testing”.
This way, project managers or team members only need to check a task’s project phase to know its status report.
But it doesn’t end here; this Agile project management tool also offers features like:
- Project Management Automation: automate repetitive and complex project processes within ClickUp
- Pulse: view activity reports that highlight what your team is most focused on at present
- Team Reporting: get detailed reports of your in-house or remote team’s productivity
- Notepad: quickly access a notepad from your project management dashboard to jot down anything you want
- Task Templates: create templates for common tasks to avoid repetitive work
- Priorities: assign task priority by using color-coded flags for any task
- Agile Management Dashboard: create customizable dashboards according to your project’s plan and needs
Sure, the Excel templates we listed here can help manage your project activities.
But is Excel a one-stop tool for project management?
Even with all of its pre-made templates, Excel can never match-up to a dedicated management tool like ClickUp!
And just like Dr. House, there’s nothing quite like ClickUp.
From helping you assess project risk and project planning to managing project tracking and more, ClickUp can handle whatever you throw at it.
And the best part?
Just like any Excel template, ClickUp is a free project tool!
Sign up for ClickUp today and get fully equipped to diagnose and treat any project problem you face!