What Is a Project Schedule Template? (And Its Benefits)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published April 20, 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Within an organization, a project manager oversees and manages the execution of projects using various tools. This includes defining the project's scope, developing a project timeline that outlines several deliverables and their associated deadlines, and monitoring task progress to ensure the project's success. Understanding how to use project schedules to track their progress can help project managers and teams complete tasks more productively and quickly communicate their results. In this article, we explain what a project schedule template is, discuss some benefits of using them, explore five common types, and offer some tips for selecting a template.

What is a project schedule template?

You can use a project schedule template to guide you in creating your own project schedule, which you can use to manage and organize various projects. Project schedules establish a project's timeline, detail the tasks required, and assign each task to a team member. This enables a comprehensive view of the project's scope and helps prevent teams from missing deadlines or failing to complete deliverables. Project schedules comprise numerous inputs, including the following:

  • Activity attributes

  • Resource calendars

  • List of activities

  • Estimated duration of activities

  • Resource requirements for activities

  • Organizational process assets

  • Environmental factors affecting businesses

  • Project schedule network diagrams

  • Project scope statement

Certain software can generate project schedules automatically. These programs enable you to enter information about your project's scope, duration, and resources. They can generate a comprehensive schedule based on your input, complete with planned dates and required activities. Most programs enable you to update project schedules easily based on your needs or changes to the project scope. Project managers develop these schedules while consulting with other team members or the project's critical stakeholders frequently. This can help them determine the most productive sequence of tasks, estimate the time required for each task, and identify potential barriers to success.

Related: How to Use a Project Scheduling Template Effectively

Benefits of using a project schedule template

The advantages of using this template include:

Establishes a timeline for the project

Creating a project schedule establishes a sequence for a team's tasks to be completed. It shows how much time each team member may require to complete a task and its due date. Using a project schedule streamlines the process by allowing for easy data entry.

Monitors the performance of the team

You can use a project schedule to plan and monitor the progress of a project. By creating a project schedule, you can assign deadlines to individual tasks, setting expectations for your team. You can quickly determine whether team members met their deadlines as the project progresses. Using a project schedule can assist you in selecting the success criteria and establishing the deadlines for each of your tasks.

Simplifies the process of project management

Project managers are accountable for a variety of critical tasks. By using this template instead of forming a new document each time, they can focus on other tasks. This contributes to the development of simplified, efficient project management practices.

Related: What Is a Work Breakdown Structure? (Step-by-Step Guide)

Ensures consistency

Project management may be most effective when employees apply processes consistently throughout the organization. This also applies to the documents used in these processes. Using this template, you can ensure that your processes are consistent across the organization and for each project you complete.

Encourages the use of best practices

Numerous organizations make available online pre-made templates that others have successfully used in the past. By selecting one of these templates, you can ensure that the organization follows best practices for planning and reporting. If a template has been successful in assisting another organization in achieving success, it may also assist the company in achieving success.

5 types of project schedule templates

The following are some of the most frequently used types of project schedule templates:

1. Gantt chart template

A Gantt chart resembles a bar chart in appearance and enables you to list project tasks along with their associated start and end dates, task dependencies, milestones, and resources. Its user-friendly design makes it simple for project managers to organize and monitor tasks and team members to understand how their tasks affect the work of others. Many software programs enable the creation of Gantt charts, and this type of template may be particularly beneficial for projects in the following industries:

  • Construction

  • Military

  • Engineering

  • Manufacturing

  • Infrastructure

Related: 8 Types of Project Charts for Effective Project Management

2. Task list template

A task list template is a spreadsheet that enables you to track the status of individual tasks. You can organize tasks in various ways on the spreadsheet, and many software programs allow you to update them as the business' needs change. For instance, you can include drop-down menus that team members can update as they complete tasks, or conditional formatting options that automatically update in response to specific task actions.

3. Project timeline template

A timeline template for a project usually includes several stacked bar graphs. These allow you to compare the progress of different phases within the same project, especially if you choose different colours for each graph to simplify the process of tracking various project milestones. For instance, a digital marketing firm may utilize a project timeline template to track the multiple stages of the client onboarding process. You can use graphs to represent the work of various departments, including web development, content marketing, search engine marketing, and client services.

Another way to create a project timeline is to use the drawing tools included in your chosen software program. These tools enable you to create a single timeline that spans the project's duration and highlights vital milestones. This may be better for smaller projects or task planning within a single department.

4. RACI matrix template

RACI is an acronym for responsible, accountable, consulted, and informed in project management. An RACI matrix or chart enables you to assign specific roles and responsibilities to individuals and clearly define their project deliverables and tasks. It's frequently a traditional spreadsheet, but it may also include chart elements that connect various tasks. RACI matrix templates are typically helpful for large projects involving many team members and stakeholders with varying responsibilities.

5. Simple project schedule template

A straightforward project schedule template summarizes the entire project, but is frequently less detailed than other schedule templates. This spreadsheet may contain separate worksheets for weekly or monthly requirements, allowing you to divide a project into more manageable components. This template defines the phases of a project, establishes a timeline for the project, and specifies which tasks you may complete by each deadline.

What is a baseline schedule for a project?

A project schedule baseline, alternatively referred to as a baseline schedule, is a projected timetable for a specific project that managers have planned and approved. They typically present it as a written document or a visual chart to facilitate access and readability. It's a document that comprises the performance measurement baseline and scope and cost baselines. Project managers can use this document to track and measure a project's schedule performance compared to the original plan.

The documents may also include a schedule model and the written approval of all relevant stakeholders. On a project-by-project basis, you may add more detailed components, such as:

  • Activity durations

  • Resource requirements

  • Contingency reserves

  • Interdependence of activities

  • Constraints or assumptions

  • Dates for the commencement and conclusion of each activity

  • Sequences of project activities

What's the difference between a project schedule baseline and a project schedule?

A project schedule considers all changes and delays that may occur during the course of the project. Without obtaining additional approval, you may alter the schedule for major or minor changes. It reflects the project's current state and timeline. The numbers and figures in the baseline may remain constant unless an extenuating circumstance occurs and you get additional approval from your stakeholders. The baseline shows the initial timeline of how long the project may take, and you can compare it to your current schedule.

Tips for choosing a project schedule template

You can use the following guidelines to assist you in determining which type of template to use:

  • Consider the organization. The size of the organization may affect the type of template that best meets your project management requirements. Smaller organizations may prioritize document management, whereas larger ones may look for automated scheduling options.

  • Consider your users. It's critical to consider who may view, use, and update your project schedule. You may choose a template that enables users or stakeholders of all types to track their milestones and record activities easily.

  • Consider the industry and the project. Numerous templates are available for various industries and project types. It's critical to evaluate your options and choose the template that best meets the requirements of your current project.

  • Consider your personal preferences. While some templates incorporate visual components, others are entirely text-based. You may consider what type of project schedule layout you prefer and which may be easiest for your users to understand.

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