Project planning is the most crucial phase of project management. So, project managers put all their efforts to properly plan each process to save money, efforts, and resources during project execution. Thus, the project plan template excel is a must-have tool in the project managers’ toolkit.
As project plans aren’t just planning phase necessity. It’s a very helpful tool in the execution of the project.
Thus, the project managers have to keep on updating the project plan and track the project performance using the integration of the project plan with tracking sheets.
However, there are tons of excel project plans, and planning templates are available. How do you know which one is the best for your project?
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In this article, we will let you know the basics of project plans and planning principles. So, you can decide on your own which project template is the best to suit your ongoing or upcoming project.
Further, we’ll briefly guide you on how to use each project planning template in excel. So, you can free download our best planning templates and use them for free.
Table of Contents,
Free Download Project Plan Templates in Excel
There are thousands of project plans available on the internet. Also, tons of planning sheets to plan and control almost all the processes of project management.
But it is sometimes very confusing to choose from a bunch of lists. Thus, our project management experts have designed the best project planning templates in excel for you to free download and use in your projects.
So, just click on the download button to free download any of the project planning templates.
Further, keep on reading to understand the basics of project plans and how to use our free planning templates efficiently.
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What is a Project Plan?
A project plan is an output of the project planning process. The project planning process focuses on defining the scope, objectives, and deliverables of the project.
Further, it includes the action plan of managing all the project knowledge areas. Such as project integration, scope, schedule, cost, quality, resources, risk, procurement, and stakeholders’ management.
In short, a project plan contains the scope, objectives, and goals of the project. Also, it portrays the best approach and action plan to achieve the project goal.
Further, it must include answers to all the major questions related to required resources, budget management, schedule, and vulnerabilities.
Typically, project managers consider the project plan similar to a project timeline or Gantt chart. However, it is way more than just scheduling project tasks.
A project started without a proper project plan has more than a 90% probability of failure. Further, it is necessary to make an effective project plan instead of just fulfilling the formality.
As the project plan lets the project managers think about every aspect of the project beforehand. So, project managers can easily define the realistic objectives of the project.
Further, understand the requirement of skill set for the project team, resources to complete the project, and cost estimate of the project.
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Approach to Project Planning
The best approach to make a good project plan is to use 7W’s approach. As planning is a process of brainstorming and thinking on all the possible aspects of projects.
So, questioning is the key to success in the project planning phase. Further, one can say that the following questions are important to answer before starting any project:
- What? What are the problem statement and need that this project is going to meet? Also, what are the major objectives and goals of the project?
- Why? Why are we working on this project? It is the most important question to answer for a better understanding of project scope and objectives to all the stakeholders.
- Who? Who are the stakeholders of the project? What are they responsible for?
- How? How are we going to achieve the project objective and how we will manage and track and project process?
- When? When should the project start and how long it should take to complete?
What is the Purpose of the Project Plan?
A project plan is a roadmap for every stakeholder of the project. It defines and communicates the scope and objectives, helps to control the schedule, budget, and delivery, identifies and manages risks, and finally defines a communication plan for stakeholders.
So, one can consider it as the most important ingredient in the success of a project. Further, there are several benefits of creating an effective project plan before starting any project.
As it is the only tool that contributes to more than 50% of the success of the project. Thus, project managers put all their efforts into making an error-free and rigid project plan.
So, the idea is to leave no loophole in the project planning phase to minimize or eliminate the chances of failure. A project without a plan is just a waste of effort, money, time, and resources.
Even if some miracle makes the project successful, still one can see the waste of resources in the execution of the project.
Thus, the following are the biggest benefits of a project plan:
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1. A Roadmap to Success
The project plan works as a guidebook for all the stakeholders during project execution. It is like homework and preparation before entering into the real competition.
So, things can be a little different in real. But the main idea and strategies remain the same. The project plan studies the nature of the project and helps the project managers to set what to expect from the project?
Also, it works on every aspect of the project to define how things will be handled during execution. Finally, the project managers study and define the strategies for management, tracking, monitoring, and controlling the project processes.
2. Action Plan for Every Process
The project plan template excel helps the project managers to define an action plan to conquer the field of execution.
So, it works on CPM and PERT strategies to calculate the shortest path to project completion. Also, helps to align tasks in the correct sequence. Thus, directly helps to plan the allocation of resources.
It uses different costing tools to create a budget for project completion. This budget helps to attract sponsors as it includes a feasibility analysis in terms of cost-benefit analysis, risk profit analysis, returns on investment, and payback period.
Similarly, the project managers brainstorm to identify the vulnerabilities to project success. So, project managers take legal, economic, financial, technical, political, and environmental aspects into consideration to identify associated risks.
Thus, project managers mitigate the likelihood of risk occurrence and reduce the severity of possible impact using mitigation strategies. Finally, a plan B or contingency plan approach is there to cope up in case of a disastrous situation.
3. Improves Communication
The project plan outlines everything in front of stakeholders. So, the expert analysis from every stakeholder group improves the action plan of the project before execution.
Further, a planned methodology for the success of a project is in front of everyone. Thus, every stakeholder of the project starts with the same mental approach before the execution of the project.
Also, it leaves no confusion in the mind of stakeholders and things are clearly defined. So, all the stakeholders work on the same strategy for the achievement of the same goal.
4. Increases Transparency
As the project plan helps to take everyone on the same page. So, it’s clear where to get the required information and who is responsible for what tasks and functions.
Thus, everyone becomes clear about their responsibilities and focus on delivering expectations. Instead of indulging in the blame game and failure to deliver the output.
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What are the Important Components of the Project Plan?
A project plan includes an action plan for every step of the project. Thus, one can imagine what to include and what to not is pretty clear.
So, the experts of project management use the project plan as a reference guide to executing the whole project. Therefore, it includes analysis, management strategies, and an action plan for every process of the project.
In short, a project plan outlines the following knowledge areas of project management in terms of planning, management, tracking, monitoring, and controlling.
- Project Integration Management
- Timeline and Schedule Management
- Resources Management
- Financial and Cost Management
- Risk Management
- Quality Management
- Stakeholders Management
Mostly project management considers the project timeline spreadsheet as a project plan template excel. However, a very basic project plan is somehow close to the timeline sheet.
Thus, the addition of a few things in the project timeline can lead to the creation of a simple project plan template excel.
So, a basic project plan template excel sample usually includes the following elements.
- Risk Alter Mark (At Risk)
- WBS (Work Breakdown Structure)
- List of Tasks Description
- Task Status
- Responsible Person
- Task Start Date
- Task End Date
- Percentage Completion
- Priority of Completion
- Risk Level
- Gantt Chart
Finally, after the initial presentation of the project plan in front of all the stakeholders. The revised form is presented as a project plan report.
It’s a formal document that starts with the introduction of the project team. Also, it includes project scope, objectives, cost management plan, risk management plan, stakeholders’ management plan, project plan outline, and Gantt chart.
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