Excel is the most widely used tool for every industry in terms of management, administration, analysis, planning, calculations, and much more. Undoubtedly, Excel is the first go-to tool for project management supported by handy grid formats and the ability to filter and formulate every kind of data to make it easy to use.
However, Excel can be more challenging for some aspects of project management, especially for beginners.
In this article, we will discuss the complete use of Excel for project management in detail.
What is project management?
Depending upon the needs and task to be done, project management can have different definitions and meaning to different people. For some, it refers to a structured process and a formal discipline for managing across industry projects that are led by professional project managers. These formal projects shave distinct phases to make the entire life cycle of the project, including documentation, manufacturing, and validation a standardized procedure to follow.
However, others may take project management as those things that just need to get done — for example; planning an event, launching a product or an app, coordinating a process, or publishing something. Hence, different types of project management need managers to utilize various tools and methods. Also, when they are setting out new projects, the need the best set of tools to get the best out of them and excel is an essential element of that list.
Excel use cases in project management
Excel can be used by individuals, companies and all sized organizations in every industry for an entire range of activities including;
“The reason for Excel being so popular is that the tool is flexible, work in many operational sectors, and highly acceptable among users. It is an ideal setting for both formal and informal projects and cost-effective as well.” Says Drake Russell, Quality Assurance Head at CrowdWriter.
How to start project management with Excel
Regardless you are working on a small project or a massive one, you need a list to lead with it. It is ideal for opening your Excel and sketching out the rough beginnings with your things-to-do list and assign tentative dates along with responsible teams to accomplish tasks. Excel grids offer an organic logic that helps to define functions that have to culminate into a finished project.
Secondly, formulas provided by Excel have apparent benefits to define column data, including finances and inventory management. More advanced features like Pivot tables are an ideal way to visualize concise data in a single spreadsheet.
Excel offers extremely valuable benefits for starting projects with a Work Breakdown Structure. Below is a list of things that you need to get started with Excel for your upcoming project’s management.
1) Define your project goals and deliverables in a statement of work or charter
2) Create a document to plan steps wise process
3) Start with a project or task tracking template
4) Add tasks and individually prioritize them
5) Add targets with the starting date and a deadline to each stage of the process
6) Distinct large tasks and activities with subtasks by rolling up rows underneath them
7) Plan and define the duration of each task and select timeline
8) Assign tasks to teams and individuals responsible for them
9) Complete the sheet and share with the authorized personnel
Invite other team leads as well to contribute efforts to set realistic goals and deadlines. By this, they will have a sense of responsibility and accomplishment.
Hence, once you are done with documentation, start with your task tracking list to get updates of every phase progression and to ensure successful delivery all way through.
How to manage project management with Excel
“Starting managing a project with Excel opts you to go all the way around and manage an entire project at a single place.” Says Steve Scott, Operational Manager at PremiumJackets. It gives you a free hand to manage your project with the best approach depending upon the complexity of your project. There are unlimited templates available online to help you out with every kind of task to get done within minutes of accommodating data. Select accordingly and use them efficiently to get the most of this magical wind.
Pros and cons of Excel for project management
Anyone who has used Excel is well known for its frustrating aspects. Undoubtedly, it is a sophisticated tool that needs an expert to handle and keep it functional as per the requirements of customized tasks. Professionals know all of its ins and outs, and can get the best shortcut approach to make you spectacular and self-explanatory charts and graphs within minutes.
As mentioned above, Excel is very complicated for the majority of its users. Most people are able to use some of its basic features to make spreadsheets, and some tasks may lead them to hair-pulling moments. Below are some issues reported by users for Excel:
Hard to read
Version control issues
Starting with a blank sheet is often daunting, and when starting a new project, it can be really tough to decide how to structure a project data correctly. However, it may be surprising to know a good project management practice is having a myriad of Excel templates. It saves you a lot of time, energy, and money and enables you to jump into filling the data into pre-designed templates. However, before jumping to the world of templates, it is essential to know where Excel can facilitate you in your project management and where it is liable to make you frustrated.
Excel is ideal for project management activities, including:
Issues, Risks, and Changes Tracking
Pivot Table Reports
However, Excel is not ideal for project management activities, including:
Advanced Project Management
Client or Stakeholder Management
Therefore, Excel serves as an ultimate and unmatched tool to help you out with many complicated things. It saves you time, money, and energy. Fortunately, several project management tools offset Excel’s limitations.
Excel compatibility templates
Excel is used in the majority of industries because of its overall utility. Mostly, users may need to import and export data from Excel to process information from other programming tools.
Also, it is essential to know how Excel can work with other programs with compatibility as it is often used for analytics and complex calculations to get the most of an available set of data.
Since Excel is the proud part of Microsoft Office Suite with PowerPoint, Word, Outlook, and other business productivity tools, Microsoft has developed a project management software called Microsoft Project to facilitate it. The tool is designed for advanced project management and planning needs for enterprise level. Undoubtedly, Microsoft has proven to succeed itself in developing compatibility across all of the possible applications to ease the exchange of data.
As the format of Excel is widely used, it has to be compatible with a large pile of apps outside the ecosystem of Microsoft. Today, most of the project management software and programs provide the feature of importing and exporting data with synchronization. Hence if Excel can be an ideal project management tool along with the overly complicated program to handle at the same time, there are way outs that are easy to tackle and process tasks for users.
About the author
Liza Brooke is a qualified IT specialist and part time writer. She loves to work with unique project teams and explore new ways to contribute the developing IT industry.