Streamline your project tracking with ready-to-use project management templates in Excel. The beauty of a template is that you have a starting point you can use again and again. You don’t have to create a framework each time you want to report to stakeholders, communicate status, or track issues -- the foundation is already built and you just have to add your own project information.
In this article, you’ll find the top project management Excel templates that you can download for free. We've detailed the different types of templates and when you should use each one, and then show you how to create a project management dashboard in Excel from scratch.
We also show you how using project management templates in Smartsheet, an online work execution platform makes project tracking even easier and more collaborative than Excel.
Gantt Chart Project Template
A Gantt chart is one of the most popular templates used by project managers. A Gantt chart takes your task names, start and end dates, and durations, and transforms them into a cascading horizontal bar chart. You can quickly visualize the order in which tasks need to happen and which tasks are dependent on each other. A Gantt chart is especially effective when managing a complex project with many dependencies.
Easily visualize and manage your project tasks and timeline with the interactive Gantt chart capabilities in Smartsheet. Create a quick view of project status and items outstanding with symbols and conditional formatting, and assign tasks to team members to improve accountability. Turn on critical path to identify dependencies throughout your project timeline and to see which tasks directly impact your project completion date. Share your Gantt chart with your team and internal and external stakeholders to provide visibility and keep everyone in the loop.
Project Tracker Template
House all your project information in one central place, so everyone involved knows exactly where to look for important details. With the project tracking template, you can add tasks, status, priority, deliverables, deadlines, cost, hours, and more for your whole project. If you’re managing a large project, a project tracking template will help keep everything organized.
Plan and manage your project with this real-time project tracker template in Smartsheet. Organize tasks by project phases, set deadlines, and assign items to individual team members to manage projects with greater transparency. Set alerts to remind you and your team of upcoming due dates, track costs and resource time, and view progress all in one location.
Agile Project Plan Template
An agile project plan is based on features. The plan estimates how long it will take for each feature to be delivered, without much detail on how it will be delivered. And because the project plans are focused on features, you can group similar features into sprints.
An agile project plan is always changing. Once the plan is developed, the project team needs to maintain it and update status and timelines accordingly.
Also known as an agile project schedule, this template lets you add your tasks, who is responsible, start and end dates, and status. The duration for each task will be automatically calculated. This template also features a Gantt chart (a visual representation of your project timeline), which will automatically adjust when you add your own data to the table.
With a project template designed for basic Agile projects, you can plan and manage sprints, product features, and tasks in one real-time, customizable template. Use the built-in Gantt chart to view your project timeline including dependencies, milestones, and deadlines, or switch to card view to manage items in a Kanban board. Your team can update progress, manage deliverables, store files, and set alerts to ensure projects stay on track.
Project Budgeting Template
Make sure your project stays on budget throughout the entire project by tracking labor, materials, fixed costs, and actuals. A budget template helps you stay diligent with spending and lets other team members know if you are over or under. This template is helpful for any project, regardless of size.
Ensure that your project stays on budget with this project budgeting template in Smartsheet. Organize tasks by phase and easily compare labor, materials, and other costs against budgeted amounts. Actual, budgeted, and variance totals automatically calculate based on pre-built formulas, and you can easily flag items that are at risk of exceeding budget for greater visibility into project spend.
To-Do List Template
With so many moving parts in a project, a to-do list helps you focus on the most important tasks. You can manage due dates on a daily, hour-by-hour basis and see your priorities across the entire week. Use a to-do list template if you need to organize individual tasks.
Track and manage tasks across multiple projects on a weekly, monthly, and yearly basis. Set due dates, adjust priorities, and update status in one real-time location that you can access from anywhere, on any device. Set alerts for upcoming due dates and check off items when they are complete to ensure no task is missed.
Project Timeline Template
A timeline helps you visualize complex information in a digestible, easy-to-understand way. You can track progress, identify potential delays, monitor how long project tasks actually take to complete, and more. A project timeline is great for any size project, especially when you need to share status with external collaborators or stakeholders.
With a real-time project timeline template in Smartsheet, you can plan, track, and manage project tasks and milestones in an interactive view, accessible from anywhere, on any device. Set start and end dates, assign tasks to internal or external team members, and identify which items, if delayed, would impact whether your project is delivered on time. Organize tasks by phases, set priorities, and update status to ensure your project stays on track.
Issue Tracker Template
It can be easy for potential issues to fall through the cracks when managing a project. However, if these issues are left unresolved, they can ultimately delay your entire project and affect deliverables. For project tracking, using an issue tracker template helps you quickly identify issues and assign owners so you can solve problems as soon as they arise. Use this template if you are managing a medium-to-large project that involves many changes.
Identifying and mitigating issues right away is essential to the success of your project. That’s why having a project issue tracker that you can access at any time, from anywhere, is important to your ability to quickly identify issues. With an issue tracker template in Smartsheet, you can create a simple form for team members to submit issues. Receive automatic alerts when new issues are submitted, assign items to specific team members to follow up on, set priorities, and view status all in one location.
Project Timesheet Template
Get a quick snapshot of resource allocation with a timesheet template, which allows the whole project team and stakeholders to view the commitment level of each person. Track resource availability on a weekly basis to see who has extra time and who is spread too thin. A timesheet is effective when managing dozens of resources in a large project.
Resource costs are a big factor impacting your ability to keep projects on budget. Manage all of your resources with a simple project timesheet template in Smartsheet. Assign tasks to specific team members and easily identify over- or under-allocated resources. Share the timesheet with your team and have them track hours spent on tasks to quickly determine actual costs associated with the work getting done.
Project Risk Template
By their very nature, projects are full of hidden risks -- the scope could be ill-defined, dependencies could be inaccurate, etc. The key is to identify these risks early in the project, before they affect cost and deadlines. The project risk tracker organizes all potential risks in one location and is beneficial to anyone managing a medium-to-large project.
Project Management Dashboard
Sifting through multiple documents to find the tasks worth reporting to leadership can be time consuming and frustrating. With a project management dashboard, you can quickly communicate the status of your project and share the big picture view. Use the project management dashboard if you want to share the high-level status of your project with stakeholders.
You can also create a project management dashboard in Smartsheet. With Smartsheet dashboards you can rapidly adapt to changing project conditions and identify risks with easy-to-use widgets that display live data, charts, and metrics. Roll up data across projects to show what matters most and share with all key stakeholders to keep everyone on the same page.
How to Create a Project Management Dashboard in Excel
Project management dashboards turn your project data into easy-to-read graphics. This visual report is an easy way to convey project status to clients or stakeholders, without sharing the nitty-gritty details of your project. At a glance, you can share your project timeline, overall task status, budget, and pending items.
Here’s how to create a project management dashboard in Excel.
Set Up Your Excel Sheet
A project management dashboard mainly includes graphs, but the full data behind the graphs still need to exist somewhere in your Excel file. To do this, you must work in two tabs in your Excel sheet. One tab will house the graphs and the other tab will house all the data that makes up the graphs. This way, your dashboard doesn’t have any numbers, just beautiful images.
- On the bottom of your file, double click on Sheet1 to rename the sheet. We recommend you change this to Project Dashboard.
- Then, click the plus sign icon to the right of the tab to add another tab.
- Double-click on Sheet2 and rename to Notes.
Add Your Project Data
You’ll add all your project data (the raw numbers) in the Notes tab. This data will be used to make the graphs, which you’ll then move to the Project Dashboard tab.
Make a Project Task Table and Gantt Chart
- In the Notes tab, create a task table. Add headers for Tasks, Assigned To, Start, End, Duration, and Status.
- Add your project information to the table. List the tasks in your project, who is assigned to each one, the date it starts, the date it ends, how many days the task spans, and the status (we used Complete, Overdue, In Progress, and Not Started).
- Then, create a Gantt chart from this task information. Click here for a step-by-step tutorial on how to make a Gantt chart in Excel.
- Once you have created the Gantt chart, right-click on the chart and select Cut. Go to the Project Dashboard tab and right-click and select Paste. You can also copy and paste parts of your task name if you would like that on your dashboard as well.
Note: We added a Priority column to our task table and used star symbols to convey importance. To add symbols, click on a cell and in the Insert tab, click Symbols on the far right-hand side.
Add Graphs for Task Status, Project Budget, and Pending Items
Next, think about what other kind of information you’d like to include in the project dashboard. In our example, we wanted to create a graph for overall task status, budget, and pending items.
- In the Notes tab, create a mini table for each set of data you’d like to visualize. For example, we wanted to show how many tasks were Complete, Overdue, In Progress, and Not Started. We put these phases in one column and next to each one, we added how many projects were in that phase in percentages or fractions. Or, for the budget graph, we added how much money was planned and how much money was actual.
- Then, once you’ve added the data, select the table and go to the Insert tab. In the Charts group, select the chart you’d like to use (pie chart, bar chart, scatter, etc).
- Repeat for the rest of your data sets.
- Once you’ve created graphs for each data set, cut and paste the graphs to your Project Dashboard tab.
Customize Your Project Management Dashboard
- To change the background color of your task table, click on a cell and in the Home tab, in the Font group, click the paint bucket icon to choose the color you’d like.
- To change the colors in your Gantt chart, double-click on a task bar and click Format Data Series. Click the paint bucket icon, click Fill, and at the bottom, click the paint bucket icon again to choose the color you’d like.
- To change the colors of your graphs, double-click on your whole graph or just a section. The Format Data Point box will appear on the side. Click the paint bucket icon, click Fill, and at the bottom, click the paint bucket icon again to choose the color.
Make Better Decisions, Faster with Smartsheet Dashboards
Smartsheet is an enterprise work execution platform that fundamentally changes the way teams, leaders, and businesses get work done. Over 74,000 brands and millions of information workers trust Smartsheet as the best way to plan, capture, manage, automate, and report on work.
With dashboards in Smartsheet, you’ll have real-time visibility into work progress to make better decisions and keep your teams on the same page every step of the way. The configurable, widget-driven dashboards enable users to highlight the information that’s most relevant to their business - without the need for technical support. Know the status of your business at a glance, gain insights, and accelerate your team’s innovation all in one platform.
Discover how Smartsheet dashboards will help your team make better-informed decisions, fast.
Finding the Best Project Management Templates for Projects of All Sizes
A project management template is an effective tool for any project -- big or small, simple or complex. In reality, even if the deliverables are small, you still need to estimate how long each task will take, identify the resources required, and assign activities to team members. That’s why it’s important to find the right project management solution to help ensure that your next project is delivered on time and on budget.
One such solution is Smartsheet, a work execution platform that enables enterprises and teams to get from idea to impact - fast. Top project management leaders rely on Smartsheet to help align the right people, resources, and schedules to get work done.
Use Smartsheet to create consistent project elements, increase speed, and improve collaboration with scalable options that fit individual work preferences. Hold yourself and your team accountable, improve visibility into team priorities, and ensure nothing slips through the cracks. See how easy it can be to use a project management template in Smartsheet. Try Smartsheet for free for 30 days.
Want more project management tips and best practices? Visit our Project Management Resource Center for the latest articles, templates, videos, and more.
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