Planning Multiple Projects Using Excel Based Gantt Charts

Published: 31st January 2011
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Excel is an excellent tool for creating and managing projects when used correctly. By using a professional gantt chart template, you can leverage the substantial flexibility that Excel offers. These benefits really come into their own when you are looking to either consolidate or manage multiple projects by either creating one consolidated Gantt Chart, or multiple Gantt Charts.

A quality, professional excel gantt chart offers you the ability to create relationships that you simply cannot do in major gantt chart and project planning software. Enterprise editions of major gantt chart software have substantial administration overheads that are simply not necessary with an excel based gantt chart template. With a an excel based gantt chart template you are able to undertake the following key activities:

Set up resource pools and share resources between projects

Create dependencies between either projects or tasks

Utilise standard Microsoft collaboration tools to allow multiple simultaneous editors

If you use a professional gantt chart template for excel such as ChartGantt, you will be able to simply copy the main planning worksheet to create additional planning sheets. From there linkages between tasks or projects can be created using standard Microsoft Excel links. Ie, =, if, or commands.

Setting up a resource pool to share resources between projects

To set up a resource pool you simply need to create a new workbook. Format the columns to take information that you believe is relevant for each resource. This may include phone number email address. Select the column with the name of your project plan resources and create a named range. Then in each project planning worksheet, you can simply use data validation = the name of your range, to produce a common resource pool dropdown list for each of your tasks.

Create dependencies between either projects or tasks

After working for some of the worlds largest consulting firms, the simple issue of relating projects is BIG. This issue cause the lost of immeasurable time to create management reports. Often high level dependencies are managed outside of the core plans.

With the excel template approach, you are able to use standard excel functionality to solve this issue for you. Simply set the start of the first task of a project dependent on the completion of the last task of another project. This ensures that your actual work and your plan are in sync, and improves your ability to rapidly generate project management reports that are current and meaningful.

Utilise standard Microsoft collaboration tools to allow multiple simultaneous editors

If you have a workbook with 5 separate plans, you can have 5 separate simultaneous users across your enterprise by using the workbook sharing functionality or Microsoft Sharepoint.

In summary there are many advantages to managing projects, both large and small in MS Excel. Reduced cost and improved flexibility are two core benefits.

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