Project Schedule Template
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- February 4, 2020 Updated
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When planning a project of any size, the timeline is a key piece. You want to plan how long project tasks will take, at which points dependencies can begin, and when activities will wrap up. This is where project scheduling comes in as an essential project management skill. And to do that effectively, you need a project schedule.
Our Project Schedule Template provides weekly and monthly timelines, color-coding for task durations, and plenty of room for projects big and small.
What Is a Project Schedule?
In simple terms, a project schedule provides an overview of a project timeline. It displays the start and end dates (durations) for tasks, dependencies, milestones, and deliverables.
Project managers create project schedules to estimate the durations of those action items. This allows them to get the “big picture” of activity and project completions.
While a Gantt chart serves as a clear visual for project planning, a schedule that focuses on the timeline can also be a helpful management tool. Plus, it can be used in conjunction with a Gantt chart template and provided to stakeholders for a clean and clear overview.
This Project Schedule Template provides exactly what you need to create a manageable, reliable, and easy-to-read timeline from your project plan.
How to Create a Project Schedule
Before you can create a project schedule, there are a few essentials you should consider during your planning.
- Evaluate and clearly define the project’s objectives.
- Identify all of the project’s stakeholders.
- Make sure you’re ready for the schedule. If you’re in the early planning stages, you should list out ideas before putting together the schedule.
If you’re truly ready to assemble that project schedule, Project Smart offers eight terrific tips.
- Plan with your team. This establishes ownership for each contributing member, and keeps everyone on the same page.
- Cover the scope of the project. Review the scope statement and be aware of what’s expected from the client.
- Group tasks into phases. From kickoff to closeout, grouping tasks helps you deliver pieces at a time.
- Create milestones. Setting milestones helps you stay focused, motivated, and measure progress.
- Estimate times with your team. Getting input on times from your team helps you create a realistic timeline based on resources and skill sets.
- Match resources and skills with the tasks. Having the right resource on the right task is essential for any project.
- Check the schedule for errors. Everyone makes mistakes. Be sure all the data you enter into the project schedule is correct.
- Update the schedule regularly. Get updates from your team and keep the schedule up to date for all resources and stakeholders.
Now, if you’ve checked items off your to-do list for planning the project and are ready to create the schedule, here’s how to use our Project Schedule Template to make it work best for you.
When you download the Project Schedule Template, you’ll receive one workbook with two sheets: Weekly and Monthly.
The Weekly sheet is ideal for more detailed project management because it shows project and task durations by the week.
For a more high-level project overview, the Monthly sheet shows those durations by the month per year, with four years.
Adding More Rows
Both sheets have plenty of room for projects, phases, deliverables, and tasks with 100 rows. However, it’s easy to insert more rows if necessary.
- Select a row by clicking the number on the left side of the Excel sheet.
- Right-click the row and select Copy.
- With the row still selected, right-click it and select Insert Copied Cells. This should place your new row directly above the one you copied.
Just note that if you insert more rows in the sheet, you’ll need to add the reference numbers in the left-hand column No manually.
Create the Project Schedule
Next, we’ll walk you through the parts of the template to give you a bit of assistance, and in case you have any questions along the way. However, you’ll see from the start that the template is very simple to use.
Each sheet offers identical basic project information that you can add quickly. This includes the Project Name and Project Starting Date on the top left corner.
When you add the Project Starting Date, the project timeline will adjust automatically.
Phases and Tasks
After completing the basics, you can add the phases, deliverables, and tasks.
On the Weekly sheet, the column is labeled Phases while on the Monthly sheet, it’s labeled Task Name. Regardless of the labels, these columns can be used for phases, tasks, deliverables, milestones, dependencies, and all other project activities.
To the left of that column on each sheet is another labeled No (Number). This is where you can enter reference numbers from your work breakdown structure. Or, keep the template as-is, which lists numbers in sequential order. These numbers are handy for referencing particular phases and tasks in notes, update emails, or status reports.
Once you enter the phases and tasks, you can colorize their durations on the project timeline.
Colorize Phase Durations – Weekly Sheet
If you’re using the Weekly sheet, you can color the durations of the phases using the Excel Fill tool.
- Click the corresponding cell in the row for the phase and the column for its start week.
- On the Home tab, click the arrow next to the Fill Color button and choose a color.
- With the cell still selected, place your cursor on the bottom right corner of it to display a plus sign. Then drag to the right through the phase’s duration and release.
You’ll then be able to quickly view the duration of that project phase and can do the same for the rest of the phases or tasks in your list.
Colorize Task Durations – Monthly Sheet
The Monthly sheet works differently for colorizing the task durations; it fills the cells on the timeline automatically based on the Start and End Dates.
- For each project or task in the column, add a Start Date and End Date to the right.
- Go to the CC (Color Code) column and click the cell for that task.
- Click the arrow and select a letter, which corresponds to a color. You can pick from eight colors using the letters A through H.
You should see the timeline immediately update to show the duration for that task with the color you picked.
Once you assign a color to a task, you can change the Start Date or End Date if needed throughout your project scheduling and the timeline will automatically update.
Measure Your Project’s Progress
One of the greatest features of this Project Schedule Template is also an effective way to measure its progress - color-coding. You can see at a glance if a task is on target to hit its deadline. If it is, then you’re golden, but if not then you know it’s time to adjust.
Find Out if You Can Help
If a deliverable is in danger, find out why and what you can do to help. The resource may lack the necessary skills, be missing the tools they need, or be confused over the task. Waiting too long to find out how you can help can be detrimental to the project timeline.
Check in Regularly
As mentioned in the tips above, checking in and updating the schedule regularly is another crucial part of project scheduling. Get regular updates from your team, check on specific tasks and dependencies, and review the schedule often. Also be sure to check for any errors you may have made entering dates and deadlines.
Even though you set clear deadlines, you know as a project manager that “things happen” during the course of a project that are out of your control. So do your best to keep up, check in, and offer help where you can.
Project Management Templates for Your Work Plan Toolbox
As a project manager you know which types of tools you need to keep in your work plan toolbox. And when it comes to templates like this one, a project plan template, work plan template, or Gantt chart template, they each give you the features you need to manage your projects efficiently.
You can concentrate on your projects, focus on your tasks, and keep track of your resources while the templates do the rest.
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