Excel and Mapping Your Project Progress

In the last few months, I have received many requests to create a solution for managing people’s project process. If you received a new project, you would obviously tackle that in stages, so most people break it down into parts to tackle each task at a time. This means that they would have various stages, all mapped out, and various projects to fall within that layout.

Many people turn to Excel to create a solution for this. They simply name each column with each stage name, list the projects down the left, and then check off each stage as it is completed. A simple do-it-yourself solution, which works, but can it be better? Here are a few suggestions for how you can improve it.

Don’t just check a task off as being done, rather enter the date when it was completed. Why? It opens so many possibilities. Firstly, you know when you did each stage. This can help you analyse jobs afterwards to see how productive you were. You can then forecast due dates, get a warning when you reach them, and monitor which tasks were done on time.

There is a TODAY() function within Excel, which will show you today’s date. Try it, type in =TODAY() into a cell in Excel and see what it says. If you’re really fussy, you can even put in =NOW() for the exact date and time (which will update when you refresh). With that, you could even assign how many days each task should take, which will open up even more possibilities. You could predict when each task would be due, how close you are to each due date, and when each stage was completed.

So, if you make these changes, how would it be different to the simple DIY solution? You would have predicted due dates, completed dates, an indication of each task being finished on time or not, as well as warnings about upcoming or overdue tasks. Now if you bring in some conditional formatting, you can have all the colours change accordingly, in order to show you exactly what is going on with all your projects at a glance.

If you’re thinking that this would be great, but your Excel abilities do not extend this far, feel free to get in touch. This is what I do, and I’d be happy to create something for you. If you’d like to take a look at something like this which is already made, you can do so here.
So what spreadsheets do you have which are under-achieving? How could they be better? If you have any suggestions, please let me know. Even if you don’t take on my services, I’d love to know what people would like their spreadsheets to achieve, so that I can make some more relevant store products. I may even make a free download, so it is worth while letting me know.

Anyhow, enough from me, you need to get back to work.

All the best.

Richard