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’ll also go through the different types of templates and when you should use each one and you’ll learn how to create a project management dashboard template in Excel from scratch.
We'll also show you how to use project management templates in Smartsheet, a spreadsheet-inspired work management tool that makes project tracking 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.
The interactive Gantt chart capabilities in Smartsheet enable you to easily visualize your project. You can customize your chart with different colors and symbols to indicate status, or use conditional formatting to highlight certain team members’ tasks. Turn on critical path to identify dependencies among tasks, and see which tasks directly impact your project completion date. Share your Gantt chart with your team or clients to keep everyone on the same page.
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.
Smartsheet makes it easy for your team to collaborate in real time and stay current on project progress. You can update the project, reassign a task, adjust a date, and more in an intuitive, visual layout.
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.
Smartsheet offers a project template designed for basic Agile projects. Plan and manage Sprints, product features, and tasks, and use the built-in Gantt chart to view your project in a timeline view. Your team can update progress, track deliverables, store files, and set alerts - all in one shared sheet.
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.
Track project and budget performance in one central location with Smartsheet. This project template includes status summary, budget and schedule variance, and a Gantt chart with dependencies. You'll easily compare estimated and actual labor, materials, and other costs.
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.
Create a centralized view of all your responsibilities across multiple projects with a to-do list in Smartsheet. Share the sheet with your team to create transparency, track task status with customizable symbols, and flag high-priority items to ensure that no task is left undone.
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.
Smartsheet has a timeline template designed for simple project plans with tasks, subtasks, and a Gantt chart timeline view. Your team can easily update progress, track deliverables, and check status anytime, anywhere.
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.
Track issues and bugs with Smartsheet’s Simple Bug and Issue Tracker template. Create a customizable web form for service staff, testers, or customers to log issues and manage all entries in one central location. Then, prioritize and coordinate responses until each issue ticket is closed.
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.
Manage your resources in real-time with Smartsheet’s basic project template with resource management. Assign tasks to specific team members, and easily identify over- or under-allocated resources.
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 create a project management dashboard in Smartsheet using Smartsheet Sights. Sights gives teams unprecedented visibility into work being done by surfacing data from underlying project sheets. Share your Smartsheet dashboard internally, or publish to give external stakeholders additional clarity of high-level project metrics and status.
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 Smarter Decisions with Smartsheet Sights
Similar to a dashboard, a Smartsheet Sight™ can help visualize, summarize, and share important aspects of work such as project status or whether tasks are on target with key performance indicators (KPIs). A Sight can also help teams stay organized by providing a hub, or central location, for related resources such as collections of sheets or reports.
- Real-time dashboards provide visibility into key information from project sheets
- Customizable interface works for any department in your organization
- Simple widgets help to get set up quickly
Sights provides visibility into any number of projects, activities, and information, across an organization. By surfacing work activity into Sights, users can make better sense of complexity, anticipate project gaps, and curate information.
Use Smartsheet to manage the details of individual projects and then use Sights to get a bird’s eye view across the project portfolio and provide colleagues and managers unprecedented visibility into the work that is getting done. Contact Smartsheet today to learn how Sights can work for your organization.
Finding the Best Project Management Templates for Small or Big Projects
A project management template is an effective tool for any project -- big or small, simple or complex. It is a common misconception that you must be managing a large, elaborate project in order to use a project management template. In reality, a template can be just as helpful for small projects. Even if the deliverables are small and don’t take much time to produce, you still need to estimate how long each task will take, figure out the resources required, and assign activities to team members.
A project management template can help you in any phase of your project, regardless of the size of your project. It helps you collect all important project information in one place that is easy to access and share with your team. And, as an added bonus, you can reuse the same process over and over again for every project, streamlining your process.
Smartsheet is a spreadsheet-inspired work management tool with robust collaboration and communication features. With an extensive range of smart views - Grid, Calendar, Gantt, Sights, and Card View - Smartsheet works the way you want. See how easy it can be to use a project management template. Try Smartsheet for free for 30 days.
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