This tool is an excel template for a Gantt chart, which is useful project scheduling tool that makes the progress and assigned tasks easy for all team members to see (Greer, 2010). This chart lists all tasks and their duration for the entire project. Since it provides a method to see all tasks with relation to each other, this is a great tool to estimate duration, and eventually cost, of a project.
Although it’s not difficult to create a Gantt chart in Excel, it can be tedious. I found the template easy to use and I enjoyed the instant formatting. I also liked entering just one date for the first task, and the rest of the dates were changed automatically. Of course, I could still go in and make changes as I saw fit for my project. A screen shot is below, or you can use the link and password above to try it for yourself.
As a project proceeds, the landscape of the project may change, and the PM must adapt the project accordingly (Laureate Inc., n.d.). This can affect the timeline, and ultimately the cost of the project. Although the PM will have a better idea of the estimated costs as the project goes on (Portny et al., 2008), recalculating spending and budget is still required. The Project-earned-value-analysis template shown below is a useful tool to keep track of the changes in cost and the impact these changes will have to the bottom line. The spreadsheet allows the user to see the earned value analysis of a project which “is an early warning program/project management tool that enables managers to identify and control problems” (Project Management Resources, n.d.). The user enters the cost for planned activities, the projected percentage of completion on a certain date, and the actual completion percentage. From these values, the following information is calculated (Project Management Resources, n.d.):
- Budgeted Cost of Work Scheduled (BCWS) or Planned Value (PV) : The sum ofbudgets for all work packages scheduled to be accomplished within a given timeperiod.
- Budgeted Cost of Work Performed (BCWP) or Earned Value (EV) : The sum ofbudgets for completed work packages and completed portions of open workpackages.
- Actual Cost of Work Performed (ACWP) or Actual Cost (AC) : The actual costincurred in accomplishing the work performed within a given time period. Forequitable comparison, ACWP is only recorded for the work performed to date againsttasks for which a BCWP is also reported.
This tool can help a PM see where the budget is deviating from expected, and they can correct accordingly.
Easy Project Plan
Yet another Excel template, this tool helps the PM and team members map out each stage of their project. Where a Gantt chart is more of a visual representation of project activities and schedule, this template reminds stakeholders of all the steps that must be taken. This template would be a great help when creating the Gantt chart entries. I liked that the first 19 rows could actually be used as a roadmap for any project since it involved tracking such steps as holding the kickoff meeting, developing a WBS, and developing the scope of the project. Skipping these steps can be detrimental to the project further down the road (Portny et al., 2008).
I would use this tool with my team members to dive into the nitty gritty of the project, assign a start and finish date and an owner for each step.
Greer, M. (2010). The project management minimalist: Just enough PM to rock your projects! (Laureate custom ed.). Baltimore: Laureate Education, Inc. Retrieved from http://sylvan.live.ecollege.com/ec/courses/74759/CRS-CW-6051999/educ_6145_readings/pm-minimalist-ver-3-laureate.pdf
Laureate Inc. (n.d.). Creating a resource allocation plan. Retrieved from http://sylvan.live.ecollege.com/ec/crs/default.learn?CourseID=6051999&Survey=1&47=7229053&ClientNodeID=984650&coursenav=1&bhcp=1
Portny, S. E., Mantel, S. J., Meredith, J. R., Shafer, S. M., Sutton, M. M., & Kramer, B. E. (2008). Project management: Planning, scheduling, and controlling projects. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
Project Management Resources (n.d.). Project earned value analysis template. Retrieved from http://www.pmtoolbox.com/project-management-templates/project-earned-value-analysis-template.html