Excel Tutorial: How To Make A Project Planner In Excel


Effective project planning is crucial for the success of any endeavor. It allows for organized and efficient execution of tasks, helps in resource allocation and budget management, and aids in meeting deadlines and delivering quality results. When it comes to project planning, Microsoft Excel is a valuable tool that offers numerous benefits. From creating detailed schedules and tracking progress to analyzing data and generating reports, Excel provides a flexible and customizable platform for managing projects effectively.

Key Takeaways

  • Effective project planning is crucial for success and Excel is a valuable tool for this purpose
  • Setting up an Excel project planner involves creating a new workbook, formatting the worksheet, and setting up columns for tasks, deadlines, team members, and status
  • Adding tasks and deadlines, assigning team members, and tracking progress are essential steps in Excel project planning
  • Utilizing Excel's sorting and filtering functions can help in organizing and managing project tasks efficiently
  • Creating visual representations, such as Gantt charts and progress reports, can enhance project communication and management

Setting Up Your Excel Project Planner

When it comes to project management, having a well-organized and easy-to-use project planner is essential. In this tutorial, we will walk you through the process of creating a project planner in Excel, so you can stay on top of your project's tasks, deadlines, assigned team members, and status updates.

Creating a new Excel workbook

To get started, open Excel and create a new workbook. You can do this by clicking on the "File" tab and selecting "New" or by using the keyboard shortcut Ctrl + N. This will open a blank workbook for you to begin building your project planner.

Naming and formatting the worksheet for your project planner

Once you have your new workbook open, it's time to name and format the worksheet that will serve as your project planner. Click on the first sheet, which is labeled "Sheet1" by default, and rename it by double-clicking on the tab and typing in a new name, such as "Project Planner."

Next, you can format the worksheet to make it more visually appealing and easier to read. Consider adding a title at the top of the sheet, adjusting the font size, and applying a color scheme that works for you.

Setting up columns for tasks, deadlines, assigned team member, and status

With your worksheet named and formatted, it's time to set up the columns for your project planner. Start by creating column headers for the key pieces of information you want to track, such as tasks, deadlines, assigned team members, and status updates.

  • Tasks: Create a column for listing the tasks that need to be completed for the project.
  • Deadlines: Add a column for noting the deadlines or due dates for each task.
  • Assigned Team Member: Include a column for identifying the team member responsible for each task.
  • Status: Lastly, create a column for tracking the status of each task, such as "In Progress," "Completed," or "Pending."

By setting up these columns, you will be able to efficiently manage and monitor the progress of your project in Excel.

Adding Tasks and Deadlines

When creating a project planner in Excel, it is essential to add tasks and deadlines for effective project management. Here's how you can add tasks and deadlines to your project planner:

A. Entering task names in the first column
  • Start by opening a new Excel spreadsheet and labeling the first column as "Tasks."
  • Enter the names of all the tasks that need to be completed for the project in the subsequent cells under the "Tasks" column.

B. Adding deadlines in the corresponding deadline column
  • Label the next column as "Deadline" to add the corresponding deadlines for each task.
  • Enter the deadlines for each task in the cells under the "Deadline" column.

C. Using Excel's date functions for setting deadlines
  • Utilize Excel's date functions, such as =TODAY() or =EDATE(), to set deadlines for tasks based on the project's timeline.
  • By using these functions, you can dynamically calculate deadlines and easily track the progress of the project.

Assigning Team Members and Tracking Progress

When creating a project planner in Excel, it's essential to allocate team members to specific tasks and track their progress. This ensures that everyone is accountable for their responsibilities and allows for efficient project management.

Allocating team members to specific tasks

  • Step 1: Create a list of all the tasks required for the project
  • Step 2: Assign team members to each task based on their skills and availability
  • Step 3: Input the team member's name next to the corresponding task in the Excel spreadsheet

Using color-coding or progress bars to visually track task progress

  • Step 1: Choose a color-coding system to represent different stages of task completion (e.g., red for not started, yellow for in progress, green for complete)
  • Step 2: Apply the chosen colors to the cells or use progress bars to visually indicate the progress of each task
  • Step 3: Update the colors or progress bars as tasks move through the various stages of completion

Utilizing formulas to calculate completion percentages

  • Step 1: Use the COUNTIF function to count the number of tasks completed
  • Step 2: Calculate the total number of tasks and use the completion count to determine the percentage of tasks completed
  • Step 3: Display the completion percentage in a designated cell on the spreadsheet

Utilizing Excel's Sorting and Filtering Functions

Excel offers powerful tools for sorting and filtering data, making it a valuable resource for creating a project planner. By utilizing these functions, you can easily organize and manage your project tasks, deadlines, and team members.

A. Sorting tasks by deadline or team member

  • Deadline: To sort tasks by deadline, you can use the "Sort" function in Excel. Simply select the column containing the deadlines and choose the desired sorting order (e.g., earliest to latest or vice versa).
  • Team member: If you need to organize tasks by team member, you can similarly use the "Sort" function to arrange the tasks based on the assigned team member's name or ID.

B. Filtering tasks based on status or assigned team member

  • Status: Excel's "Filter" function allows you to filter tasks based on their status, such as "in progress," "completed," or "pending." This can help you focus on specific subsets of tasks and track their progress more effectively.
  • Assigned team member: You can also use the "Filter" function to display only the tasks assigned to a particular team member, making it easier to manage and track individual workloads.

C. Customizing filters to fit your project's specific needs

  • Custom criteria: Excel enables you to create custom filters based on specific criteria relevant to your project. Whether it's a custom status category or a unique team member grouping, you can tailor the filters to fit your project's specific requirements.
  • Advanced filtering: For more complex filtering needs, Excel offers advanced filtering options that allow for multiple criteria to be applied simultaneously, providing a high level of flexibility and customization.

Creating Visual Representations of Your Project Plan

Visual representations are essential for effectively conveying the details and progress of a project. Excel offers a range of tools to help you create visual aids that will enhance your project planning and communication. Here are some key methods for generating visual representations of your project plan in Excel:

A. Generating a Gantt chart to visualize project timelines

A Gantt chart is a popular tool for visualizing project timelines, tasks, and dependencies. In Excel, you can easily create a Gantt chart by organizing your project data in a spreadsheet and using the built-in bar chart functionality. To create a Gantt chart, follow these steps:

  • Organize Your Data: Arrange your project tasks, start dates, and durations in a table format within Excel.
  • Create a Bar Chart: Select the data range for your project tasks and durations, then insert a stacked bar chart from the "Insert" menu.
  • Add Task Dependencies: Use Excel's bar chart customization options to add dependencies between tasks, such as linking bars or using different colors to indicate task relationships.

B. Using Excel's graphing tools to create progress reports

Excel's graphing tools are useful for creating visual progress reports that can help track and communicate project status. To create progress reports using Excel's graphing tools, consider the following steps:

  • Choose Relevant Data: Select the project data that you want to represent visually, such as task completion percentages, time spent on tasks, or resource allocation.
  • Create a Graph: Use Excel's chart wizard to select the appropriate graph type (e.g., line chart, bar chart, or pie chart) that best represents your project progress data.
  • Customize the Graph: Adjust the graph's appearance, labels, and axes to effectively communicate the project progress to your audience.

C. Incorporating visual aids to enhance project communication

Visual aids, such as diagrams, images, and symbols, can significantly enhance project communication and understanding. In Excel, you can incorporate visual aids into your project plan by:

  • Inserting Images and Shapes: Use Excel's "Insert" menu to add relevant images, shapes, and icons to support your project plan and make it more visually appealing.
  • Utilizing Conditional Formatting: Apply conditional formatting to highlight important project milestones, overdue tasks, or critical path activities through color-coding and data bars.
  • Creating Diagrams and Flowcharts: Use Excel's SmartArt and drawing tools to create diagrams and flowcharts that visually represent project workflows, processes, and decision trees.


Overall, using Excel as a project planner offers numerous benefits such as ease of use, customization, and data analysis. By following the outlined steps in this tutorial, readers can efficiently organize and manage their projects, leading to better productivity and success. So, don't hesitate to implement these tips for efficient project planning in Excel and take your project management skills to the next level.

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