Excel is a commonly used tool for all sorts of things: making to-do lists, analyzing data, managing projects, planning events, budget calculations, you name it. It’s often the first go-to tool for managing projects, given its handy grid format and its ability to formulate and filter data to make sense of it.
Excel can be challenging for certain aspects of project management. That’s why we’ve created this guide to help you get the most out of the tool.
How to Start a Project in Excel?
Whether you’re starting a large, formal project or a small one, you generally lead with a list. It can be helpful to open up Excel as a tool to sketch out the rough beginnings of your to-do lists and key dates and people needed to accomplish the project. The grid in Excel offers a natural logic, helping to define what tasks need to follow others, culminating in a final finished project.
Excel’s formulas are also obvious benefits when you’re defining column data like project budgets, and its more advanced features like pivot tables are great ways to visualize data in a spreadsheet.
Excel is useful for starting projects and developing a breakdown of tasks (sometimes called a Work Breakdown Structure). Here’s what you need to do to get started:
- First, you should have defined your project’s goals and deliverables in your project charter or Statement of Work. Once you have that, you can create a document in Excel to begin planning the project.
- Start with a Task Tracking or Project Tracking template (see our list of starter templates).
- Add tasks and prioritize individually as well as add target start and end dates.
- Create distinctions between larger task activities and subtasks by rolling up some rows underneath a larger task.
- Define the planned duration of each task (how long is it supposed to take?)
- Assign the task to an individual responsible for completing that task.
- Save and share! You now have the beginnings of a project plan that you can share with your team. It’s important to invite others to contribute so they can see their role in the overall effort and share in the sense of accomplishment when tasks are marked off as completed.
Once you’ve started with the Task Tracking list, you can explore the other project management templates we have created for you. These can help with different phases and aspects of your project to help you ensure its successful delivery all the way through.