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Can Excel Be Used for Project Management?

Everyone works on projects. Your work does not even have to establish a project for you to work in one. Let’s give an example and say that you are the manager of a restaurant. Your project is to take care of the restaurant as a whole and make the restaurant money. Or at the other end of the spectrum, let’s say you are an intern in a huge conglomerate in the financial sector. Your project is to work as an employee of the company.

All of these ‘projects’ have other and smaller purposes in themselves. The manager of the restaurant has to satisfy the customers as well as dealing with the restaurant’s employees. The intern has to meet her or his job requirements as well as making their supervisors happy. Everyone works on projects.

Project Manager’s Responsibility

However, the term ‘project management’ takes a whole other meaning, if you are working as a project manager. You do not have to be a project manager in order to organize your projects. But it becomes much more important if you are in charge of one and the employees working under you.

That means you need a project management system. The most basic for one of those can be only a paper which you can scribble down all of the employees and the work that you assign them. But is this method sustainable in the digital age of the 21st century? Of course not. You can always put a weekly planner by your desk at your workplace or your study at your home; however, you are going to need a digital project management tool. This can be on your phone, your computer, your tablet or it can even be on your smartwatch. And the most used and the easiest to use program for your project management is Microsoft Excel.

Using Microsoft Excel for Project Management

Tracking data, creating charts and graphs to accompany that data, getting results and organizing different variables are some of the tasks Excel successfully executes. Excel spreadsheet form is perfect for your project management. Whether you work in the finance industry or not, Excel functions will make your project management process that you check on a daily basis much smoother.

Also, you can just throw away your weekly planner that you additionally keep at your desk. Because while you can digitally keep track of all the tasks you and your assigned employees need to do, you can always print it and keep it in your workplace. Being a manager and creating a consistent management system need responsibility from you. You need to be responsible for your employees, the work they do and the work you present to your client or customer. If you lose track of time, miss a deadline or do not properly organize your work, you will not be able to be a successful project manager. Excel is here to rescue you from all these potentially harmful situations.

Excel tracks the time for you, it organizes the employees so that you can check if they are advancing in their work. When you put the necessary information, it stores the data for you so that you do not have to carry it everywhere you go. If you have your phone with you, then, you will have access to your management system. In the first chapter, you can find detailed explanations on why Excel is so good at project management.

What Excel Does Best for Project Management

As with every application and software and everything in life, nothing is perfect. This applies to Microsoft Excel as well. It has flaws such as collaboration tools and connectivity issues, but it has more pros than cons. You can find some of these advantages in regards to project management down below.

An Endless Worksheet

Microsoft Excel’s spreadsheet format makes the project management process a much easier process to keep track of. Excel has more than one million (1,000,000) rows in a single spreadsheet. If you compare to one of its competitors, Google Sheets has a total of 400,000 cells in one of its worksheets. Theoretically speaking, Excel has more than seventeen billion (17,000,000,000) cells in one of its worksheets. The amount of data you can fit into only a single spreadsheet and a single file is incredible. Your comprehensive projects will not lose any of its details when you are entering their data into an Excel spreadsheet.

Conditional Formatting

This function of Excel lets you format any of the cells in your spreadsheet. You can highlight, change the font shape, size and format. If you have a large number of employees and various tasks included in your spreadsheet, some of the details can go unnoticed. Excel’s conditional formatting allows you to clearly see every little detail in your projects.

Storing Your Data

The software functions not only for managing and organizing your data but also for storing your data as well. In addition to that, the accessibility factor to open that file from your personal computer to your work computer, to your phone, to your smartwatch makes everything easier.

Functions and Formulas

Excel has more than 450 functions built into its software. These functions and VBA (Visual Basic for Applications) formulas in order to achieve various tasks. These range from basic mathematical operations to calculating and organizing your data. It is perhaps the best feature of Microsoft Excel and it takes the responsibility for hard operations in your project management process from you.

Customizable Charts and Graphs

The ability to visually present your project management system is one of Excel’s biggest benefits. Not only it gives you a lot of options to choose from different charts and graphs but also comprehensive customization as well. You can exhibit the data you put exactly you want. You can change the colors of the lines and graphs, you can adjust the shapes and sizes, etc.

The program also provides a Recommended Charts tab as well. If you are not familiar with the chart and graph options Excel provides, you can always look at the various charts Excel recommends based on the data you provide.

Pivot Tables

One of Excel’s built-in functions is to use pivot tables and charts. It is an interactive tool that summarizes your large amount of data. That way you do not have to process the endless collection of raw data by yourself. You can easily access the data which the pivot tables you created sorted and categorized for you.

This function makes your project management an easily digestible and organizable process. You do not need to sort through complicated and messy data. You can just get the summarization and analysis for them and continue from there.

At school, in your university classes, at work, at one point in time, you have used Microsoft Excel. The program was created in 1985 and it has been the leading spreadsheet program since that time. More than 1.2 billion people have the Office 365 package in their digital devices. Even though not every Microsoft Office customer uses the Excel program, it is estimated that Excel has an incredible number of 800 million users around the world.*

The spreadsheet program which is in the second place behind Microsoft Excel is Google Sheets. It is estimated that it has 160 to 180 million users around the world. That means that Excel has nearly five times the number of users than the program coming behind it.*

No Learning Curve

Due to the fact that nearly everyone who is in need of project management has used Microsoft Excel at some point in time, there is not a long learning process. And even if you do not know how to operate in Excel, you can easily learn to do basic tasks in just a couple of hours. It is simple in its use yet more detailed than its competitors. That makes Microsoft Excel ‘excel’ among its rivals in terms of project management.

Excel Activities for Different Areas of Project Management

You might need to tackle various different activities in order to maintain a consistent organizer for your various tasks and issues in Excel. In this chapter of the blog post, you can find some of the important aspects of project management.

A Comprehensive Strategy

‘Management’ is planning. Without a detailed and comprehensive plan, you will not be able to operate a project management system. If you are in charge of a project, whether it is small or a large one, you will be responsible from the start until the end. The business strategy for the project, the employees assigned to do work, possible other contractors, the communication between your company and your client, every step of the way will have to be ensured by you. Also, you will be the one answering all of the parties’ questions. So, make a plan, strategize and stick to it while you are using Excel as well!

Data Analysis

Only the data, the names of your employees, the dates, the deadlines would not make much of a progress in your project management process. You need to analyze that data and figure out a way to put that into a planner in Excel. You can choose to do that manually by using Excel’s many built-in functions and formulas with VBA. Or another option is that you can let third party templates do the hard work for you. You can find detailed descriptions of these templates in the later chapters down below.

Budget Tracking

When you talk with your customers, you agree on a price for your service. When you talk with your employees, they accept a wage or a payment for their work. You will have to keep tracking your budget at every step, otherwise, you can fail. Managing shows you how much of the budget you have spent and how much you can spend. Management also helps you to keep your project, business and company afloat and also, make your supervisors happy while you spend less money!

Deadline Tracking

Not only you have to track your budget but also your deadlines as well. A project delivered past its deadline is not a successful one. Project management shows you the big picture, the whole plan as you can see and update your employees’ work. These progress charts in Excel can also help you to communicate with your client. Regularly updating your customer on the progress is very useful in order to establish trust with your clients. And you can do that thanks to your system created in Excel!

Quality Control and Assurance

You can deliver your project on time, but that does not mean that it will be good. As you have the title of the project manager, your job is to ensure the quality of your project. Because even if hundreds of people might work on that project, you will be the one presenting to your customer. That is why it is yours. And the quality of it is also something you will be responsible for. You have to assure your bosses at your company, the customer which you deliver and also, the employees who worked for that project.

Manufacturing Management

If you are in the manufacturing business, every product you manufacture will need project management in order to be properly made. If you are designing products, you can put the data between you and your designers and also, the budget that you are working on. You can easily find errors and delays in your timeline in your project management system in Excel! And one other advantage for manufacturers is that Excel provides so many customizable tools. You can show everyone the visual process your company takes on each project from start to finish.

Excel Templates for Your Project Management

Excel is a great tool for project management… however, does it do any harm to improve your Excel experience with amazing templates? Not at all! These templates by Someka are going to better your project management process in terms of speed, functionality and spending:

Project Management KPI Dashboard

In order to establish a business model and track the necessary metrics, you need to do an incredible amount of research. You have to spend time and your energy finding the metrics and putting in the data. Someka’s Project Management KPI Dashboard found the top 15 key performance indicators (KPIs) for your project management. These metrics include indicators such as Cost Performance Index (CPI), Scheduled Variance (SV) and Resource Utilization. You do not have to dive deep into the complicated world of metrics and business models, this template provides the top 15 of them! You have the most necessary tools in the categories of time, budget and spending and effectiveness.

It also provides monthly and aggregate breakdowns for you to achieve your objects. It clearly establishes your target values so that you can see where you want to end up at the end of the project. It also assesses the data from previous years so that it gives a clear understanding of your next projects.

The simple design of the template is always ready for you to print. If you are presenting, the interactive charts and customizable graphs will look amazing in the conference room. There is no setup required; download it and start using it in Excel!

Excel Gantt Chart Maker

Whether you are the general manager of a company, the team leader for your project or an employee, you will need a Gantt chart. Someka’s Excel Gantt Chart Maker will provide you with the time needed for each part of your project. By also visualizing your workflow, your management process will become much easier and faster to track.

These automatically generated Gantt charts show you your task progress on a daily, weekly or monthly view depending on your choosing. You can visualize your timelines and milestones for your projects. It also establishes many different sections for Subtasks, Coloring, Task Categories and also, Holidays and Off-Days for employees. Someka states that unlike other complicated Gantt chart tools, you can start your project management process with this template in just 30 seconds!

To-Do List Template

Project management is putting down tasks and crossing them out once they are completed. That is why Someka’s To-Do List Template is going to be one of the most useful tools for you to create your management system in Excel. You can keep track of every task you have on a daily, weekly or monthly basis. The statuses of the tasks are also shown as a visual progress chart to make everything much easier for you!

The best part about this simple designed yet detailed template is that it is completely free! You can download it and start using it right now for your project management.

SWOT Analysis Template

No matter how large or small a company is, it has to go through the project management process on each of their product or service launches. Someka’s SWOT Analysis Template provides you the big picture for your company. The flaws as well as accomplishments, the weaknesses as well as strengths and the risks as well as the opportunities.

If you want to better your management and organization, figuring out where you are coming from behind or where you improved the company is a crucial step. This free template’s professional design lets you print it and share it with all of your employees, bosses and customers in your project. Awareness is key to operate and manage a successful business.

Kanban Board Excel Template

Someka’s Kanban Board Excel Template allows you to keep track of your entire project in every step along the way. The consistency and the quality of your tasks should be one of the important aspects that you, as a project manager, take care of. That is why this template will help you to ensure these features of your every project.

Kanban Board Excel Template offers advanced reports with dynamic charts. Also, by looking at these charts, you can see the overall performances of your employees. You only need to enter the required data into the system and watch this free template work its magic!

Issue Tracker

Being a project manager forces you to work on many different projects at the same time. Keeping track of all of the tasks in these projects can turn into a nightmare. Someka’s Issue Tracker allows you to put all the tasks you have to accomplish from all of your projects.

You can customize the name of your issue (task), put in the department detail, select the priority of the issue and update the status. You can also enter the name of the person who is in charge of the issue and the dates of the tasks. Your daily business life and your project management system will be so much improved after you start using this free template!

FINAL WORDS

The important part you should be aware of by now is that project management is not an option for your business. It is a necessity. Companies and especially new startups fail much more quickly due to the fact that they did not conduct their project management properly and efficiently.

No project is too small for you to create a project management system for. Because every project is important for your business. It is these that keep your company alive. If you lack project management, it becomes easier for you to lose money, get broken up with your trusted customers and lose employees. It is not only a tool project manager should use; it is an important system that should be integrated into every company.