3 quick tips for joint project planning in Excel

You plan your project carefully, but what about the rest of the organization? Why projects regularly fail and how 3 quick tips give you guidance when using Excel.

You have a difficult and extensive marketing job to do. You form a project group, draw up a plan with actions to be carried out and make a schedule. Everything by the book. You have learned from the past and know that you need to plan well to make the project a success. The project group gets to work enthusiastically. There may even be a festive kick-off.

Everyone is ready and has cleared space in their agenda. The project is off to a good start. We are all going to make something beautiful out of it, we promise each other sincerely.

Kink in the cable!

The project stagnates almost unnoticed. The members have been busy with other things for a long time. How is that possible? Wasn’t there a good project plan? Wasn’t the timeline, the actions and the results clear? A common cause of project failure is failure to take the rest of the organization into account.

Often a number of projects are running simultaneously. There are people in several project groups from one department and the daily work must also continue, right? The planning was good. In such a case it is not the issue. But other projects have simply not been (sufficiently) taken into account.

The solution

Overview! That is where everything begins and ends. It is therefore important to know how a project fits into the planning of other projects. Which ones are running, who are in the project group(s) and when do the various projects start and end? Good to know. Not only for the success of your project, but also that of others. Also run reports on the actions or projects that will run in a year. In this way you know in good time what is going to happen in your organization and you can take it into account.

3 tips for planning

You can make your own schedule in Excel. How do you approach this in a structured way? A few tips:

  1. Keep the column layout clear and clean. Always start with a unique number, the project identification number. Then add the rest of the information you want.
  2. It is important to place only one data question in each column. So never put the project identification number and the title of the project in one column. The reason? This makes it more difficult to apply or filter formulas later on, because they often work on the basis of a unique number.
  3. Remember that you also want to print an overview on one page. So don’t use too many columns. Through page setup you can also ensure that the margins are reduced, the orientation rotated and you can reduce or increase the scale. This way you get a schedule on one page.

Another good tip: the IF formula

The IF formula offers the possibility to show a result based on a test performed. Suppose you have made a schedule in Excel and placed the months January through December at the top of the overview. On each line you put a project, where you indicate with an X when it will start. You can see at a glance in which months projects start and when a lot is running at the same time.


  • Cell C4 contains the starting month of the project and H3 contains the month of January (Jan).
  • Under the month of January (cell H4), place the formula =IF(C4=H3,”X”;””)
  • In the first part for the ; a test is performed. In this case, the test is whether cell C4 (the starting month of the specific project) is equal to the month in the overview (Jan). If so, an X is shown (the value after the first ;). If this is not the case, the value after the second ;, or the “” is displayed.

In summary, if cell C4 contains Jan, the X will be displayed.

Easy to compare

In this way you can make a comparison between the starting month of the project and the month in the overview in each column and on each line. To change the overview, all you have to do is add the project. Or make changes to the starting month.

The value between the quotation marks “” is treated as a text value. So if you put an X between the quotes, only the X will be shown. If you do not put anything (“”) between them, the cell will remain empty.

Your tips in Excel?

Do you have a useful tip to prevent stagnation in a joint project planning? Let us know in the comments.

Source: Frankwatching by www.frankwatching.com.

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