Wide Variety of Templates
There are a number of project management software choices on the market, and even though I’ve tried and used several of them, I always seem to fall back to Microsoft Excel whenever I can get away with it. That is, even though Excel isn’t touted as a PM application, it has most of the tools that project managers need in the form of chart and graph capabilities, data presentation and organization, and change tracking.
Another big bonus that Excel offers is that it so widely used in the world today that it’s not hard at all to find templates created by others and modify them to use in your own projects. In fact, Bright Hub’s Project Management Channel hosts quite a few of these Excel templates in our so you can download them straight from us and not have to worry about viruses or destructive macros.
For instance, Ann Gordon has shared an Excel status report template that is very straightforward and easily modifiable. This form works very well in conjunction with Ronda Levine’s action item template, and if you’re comfortable working with some of Excel’s more advanced features, you can even set up a feed that will let you load information from one form into another. (If not, there’s always the cut and paste solution!)
In addition, you may want to check out the collection of Excel Six Sigma templates including downloadable files for fishbone diagrams, PICK charts, and SIPOC diagrams as well as this Excel project planning form. This latter template developed by Linda Richter is extremely comprehensive. When you download it, make sure to tab through all the worksheets in the file – you just may find some other uses for the forms in this set.
Excel Project Management Tutorials
Sometimes, depending on your project, it can be difficult to find the exact template that you need. For these cases, we’ve included templates along with detailed tutorials on how they were originally created. That way, if you’re unable to find a way to modify the existing template, you can work through the creation steps and construct your own.
Considering the popularity of Gantt charts, I find it odd that Excel doesn’t currently include a wizard to create one with just a few clicks. That doesn’t mean that it can’t be done – it just takes a little more work as explained in the Bright Hub tutorial on how to create a Gantt chart in Excel. A similar statement can be made about Pareto charts, but the process for creating a Pareto chart in Excel is a bit easier, at least.
We’re always on the lookout for more tips on how to better utilize Excel (or any other software product, for that matter) for project management purposes, so if you have any that you’d like to share, let us know. Likewise, if you’re trying to figure out how to do something and need a little assistance, visit our discussion forums and see if our community can help.
References and Additional Resources
Screenshots provided by author.