The Ultimate List of 42 Free Project Management Templates

April 25, 2018
16 minute read

Originally published on April 25, 2018. Updated June 26, 2024.

 

When you make coffee for yourself in the morning, do you shape a coffee mug out of clay and go to the fields to pick coffee beans and sugar cane?

No?

Me neither.

Crafting the mug and sourcing coffee and sugar has to be done at some point (unless you’re of the paper cup-drinking breed), but if you repeat the process for every cup of coffee, you’d be wasting a tremendous amount of time and money.

That, my friend, is the difference between a project manager who uses templates versus one who doesn’t. 

Every project manager needs a set of project management templates. A good project management template will help you create all the project documents you need quickly.

Being a project manager means creating a ton of project documents.

From project charters and project plans to work breakdown structures, you'll be knee-deep in Word and Excel, creating countless documents.

We've compiled this list of project management documents to save you time. Download them, customize them, and use them when necessary.

Use this section to jump to the project management template you need:


Download our exclusive project management spreadsheet template below to get all these templates in a single source.

 

WHY DO YOU NEED PROJECT TEMPLATES?

Think of the last project you had to manage. What documents did you need to create at launch?

There would be a project charter and a communication plan, of course. You’d have a broad project plan, a work breakdown structure, and a Gantt chart. You would also have a risk register and a plan to tackle all upcoming issues.

Creating all these documents from scratch would waste a monumental amount of time.

This is why every project manager should have a trusted arsenal of project management framework templates.

Using templates not only improves efficiency but also brings much-needed standardization to your project management process. Instead of creating documents on an ad hoc basis, you can have a single template for every function that can be used across the organization.

Borrowing premade project plan templates can also ensure you use best practices in planning and reporting. If a template has proven successful in one organization, it will likely also be useful in yours.

There are several project planning templates online but few centrally organized resources. This blog is designed to help you get everything you need in one place.

 

How to Use Project Management Templates?

Unsurprisingly, most PM templates are made in MS Excel. A few text-heavy ones use MS Word. To use these templates, simply download them from the links below. Direct file links are marked specifically. Sometimes, you must give up your email address in exchange for the file (marked as “Email/Registration required”).

Once downloaded, edit them with your details and export them in your chosen format.

You can use LibreOffice as an open-source alternative if you don’t have Excel or Word.

Alternatively, upload the file to your Google MyDrive account.

 

Upload File

 

Google will convert the file, which you can then open in Google Sheets (for XLS files) or Google Docs (for .doc files).

The templates are organized by category below:

 

PROJECT CHARTER TEMPLATES

As we pointed out earlier, creating a project charter is the first step in developing an integrated project plan.

 

project charter

 

This important document outlines the project's scope, objectives, and stakeholders. It documents everything the project needs and its expected outcomes.

The project charter also functions as a business case document. If you need to convince stakeholders of a project's importance or outline the goals to your team, you will turn to the project charter.

Whether you are using one of the project charter templates below or creating one from scratch, there are a few elements you should always include:

  • Project title: Start with the title. Make sure it is specific enough to make identification easier. A good template to follow is this - "[Project Type] to [Project Objective] for [Project Client/Product]". For example, "Inbound Marketing Campaign to Increase Marketing Qualified Leads for Apple Corporation".
  • Executive summary: Include a high-level summary of the project, its purpose, and its stakeholders.
  • Project objectives: Explain the "why" of the purpose in greater detail. Be very specific about the outcomes you seek. Including specific numbers or at least a range is a good idea. Don't say "increase traffic"; say "increase website traffic by 200% in 6 months".
  • Business objectives: This section describes how the project fits into the business' broader strategic goals. For instance, if you're running a campaign to increase traffic to a website, explain how the higher traffic would help the business achieve its goals.
  • Project requirements: Explain the project's requirements at a high level in terms of resources—both tangible and intangible.
  • Project scope: Use this section to answer the question: "What is the project meant to accomplish?" Briefly focus on both long and short-term goals and objectives.
  • Key deliverables: Briefly list the key deliverables at different milestones.
  • Project schedule: Give a high-level overview of the project's estimated schedule. You don't have to be accurate down to the day, but a broad explanation of key milestones will help.
  • Project budget: Give a high-level description of the project's budget. You can break this down by resource requirements if you want to go into more detail.

 Besides the above, you can also include a list of project stakeholders, roles, milestones, risks, and the completion/success criteria for the project.

Keep in mind that this list is by no means exhaustive. You can expand or shrink the charter based on your own needs. For most projects, however, including the above will be enough.

Project Charter Templates

Here are some project charter templates based on the guidelines above:

1. CDC Project Charter Template

Project charter templates

 It might surprise you that the CDC offers free several high-quality project management templates. They don’t look particularly good, but they have fields for all the necessary data. This project charter template also includes detailed instructions on how to use it.

Download: CDC.gov (Direct link, Word)

 

2. NYU Project Charter Template

 NYU Project Charter TemplateA simpler but more visually appealing project charter template from NYU’s management school.

Download: NYU.edu (Direct file, Word)

 

 

3. General-purpose project charter template

 

A general-purpose project charter template from Solarity, a project management consultancy. This one is fairly detailed and has a neutral design that can be quickly deployed.

Download: Solarity.com (Direct file, Word)

 

 

4. Agency Project Charter/Business Proposal Template

  Agency Project Charter/Business Proposal TemplateThis project charter template is designed specifically for project managers in agency settings. Given its focus and depth, it can also double as a business proposal.

Download: MyPMLLC.com (Word, PDF)

Instead of using complicated templates, you can use project management software such as Workamajig to create project charters and organize all your documents. Learn more about Workamajig’s PM capabilities here.

 

 

PROJECT PLAN TEMPLATES

There is no fixed "recipe" for making a project plan. You can be as detailed or superficial as you need to be. Unlike the project charter, which is meant for stakeholders on both sides of the table, the project plan is mostly meant to introduce you and your team to the project and its goals.

Think of it as a simplified, distilled form of the project charter, but less formal.

Keep in mind that this is a living document. You can modify it as the project progresses and you learn new things. It doesn't have to be comprehensive; it just needs to tell you and your team what they need to accomplish.

Here are some things you can include in the project plan:

  • Project identification: Include details about the project, including its name, description, ID, client, and project manager's name.
  • Project dates: Identify the start and estimated end date of the project. You can also include a counter indicating the number of days left until the end date.
  • Progress: Mention how much of the project has been completed so far in terms of milestones accomplished.
  • Tasks/activities/deliverables: You can include a broad overview of key tasks, activities or deliverables, depending on the level of granularity. In complex projects, for instance, you might want to focus on deliverables, while in smaller projects, you can specify the exact tasks needed to produce said deliverables.
  • Task details: Include details about each task’s start and end dates, the team or person responsible for it, and the task status.
  • Timeline or Gantt chart: You can also include a timeline or Gantt chart showing dependencies and progress for each task.

 

Project plan templates

Here are a few project plan templates based on the guidelines above:

1. Task-focused project plan template

 Task-focused project plan templateThis project management plan template focuses on tasks instead of deliverables or milestones. It includes a Gantt chart to visualize project progress. Use it for smaller projects with a small number of tasks and dependencies.

Download: AnalysisTab.com (Excel)

 

2. Schedule-focused project plan template

 Schedule-focused project plan templateThis project management schedule template segregates the entire project into multiple phases. Each phase is further divided into multiple activities to give you a broad overview of the project’s progress.

Download: Vertex24.com (Excel)

 

3. Timeline-focused project plan template

Timeline-focused project plan template

The timeline is one of the most important elements in any project plan. This project tracker template eschews a long list of tasks to focus on a few broad activities and their completion dates. Use it to keep your team on track or to make presentations to stakeholders.

Download: OfficeTimeline.com (PowerPoint)

 

4. Gantt-chart focused project plan

Gantt-chart focused project plan

This task management template includes a detailed list of activities and tasks related to them, all visualized in the form of a Gantt chart. You can use this for nearly any project, though you might want to create separate Gantt charts for more complex projects.

Download: TemplateTab.com - template for project planning #15 (Excel)

 

5. Project timeline

 Project timelineHow is the project coming along? Are you on track to meet your deadlines? This project management timeline template will help you answer these questions. Use this project tracking template to keep track of key milestones and check up on your progress.

Download: Office.com (Excel)

 

Create detailed project plans and track project progress using Workamajig.

 

PROJECT STATUS REPORT TEMPLATES

Creating project status reports is the bread and butter of any project manager's job. You'll have to create weekly, monthly, and even daily reports to alert stakeholders about the project's health. Creating effective reports is an art; you must be detailed but succinct.

So, what should you include in your project management report template?

For starters, make sure it has the following:

  • Task progress: Clearly identify all tasks that have been accomplished since the last reporting period, what you're working on currently, and what's coming up in the next reporting period.
  • Issues, risks, and change requests: List all current issues and their status (open, closed, pending). Also, list change requests and their history. Your goal should be to alert stakeholders about any issues that need their immediate attention.
  • Milestones & deliverables: Identify all milestones completed since the last reporting period. Also, identify upcoming milestones and deliverables and their start/finish dates.

Refer to this article to learn how to create a creative project status report.

If you'd rather use something pre-cooked, refer to the templates below.

 

Project Status Report Templates

Here are some project status report templates you can use to create your reports:

1. Short project status report template

Short project status report template

 This template from the Office template library is short and to the point. It has fields to summarize the project status and give an overview of its key tasks, budget, and issues.

Download: Office.com (Word)

 

2. Monthly project status report template

Monthly project status report template

This in-depth template from the University of Manitoba comes with clear instructions on how to use it. You get enough space to list your key accomplishments since the last month, important KPIs, and the project’s financial health. It also has a separate section where notes and metrics can be added for internal use.

Download: UManitoba.ca (Direct file - Word)

 

3. Detailed project status report template

 project status report template

 This MyPM template has fields to report key accomplishments, project schedules, schedule variances, budget details, risks, and issues. Use it if you need more in-depth reports.

Download: MyPMLLC.com (Word/PDF)

 

 

4. Executive project status report template

 Executive project status report template

Do you need to give a high-level summary of the project to top stakeholders? If so, this template is for you. Created by the CDC, this report eliminates all superficial fields to focus on key milestones, issues, and an overall project summary. Most importantly, it also includes space to make executive requests.

Download: CDC.gov (Direct file, Word)

 

Create detailed project status reports in minutes with Workamajig. Learn more about Workamajig’s project management capabilities here.

 

WORK SCHEDULE TEMPLATES

One of your core responsibilities as a project manager is managing your team's schedule. Knowing what tasks each employee has to work on, on what days, and for how many hours is essential for running a project smoothly.

Most managers turn to weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly work schedules to manage their team's activities. These schedules usually have the following components:

  • A title identifying the type of schedule (weekly, bi-weekly, etc.)
  • The scheduled date or period
  • The name of the employee
  • Work assigned to the employee
  • Number of hours assigned to each task on each day of the week

As far as project management documents go, work schedules are fairly straightforward. Let’s look at some templates below.

Work Schedule Templates

Here are some templates to create work schedules for your team:

1. Weekly employee work schedule

 

 Weekly employee work scheduleThis detailed weekly work schedule template includes fields to add hourly pay rates, total pay, and daily activities for each employee. Although designed for shift workers, it can also be used in an agency setting.

Download: FindMyShift.com (Excel)

 

2. Bi-weekly employee work schedule template

 

Bi-weekly employee work schedule template

You might need to create detailed daily schedules for some resources, such as designers working on multiple projects simultaneously. This resource management plan template will come in handy in such cases.

Download: Vertex24.com (Excel)

 

3. Daily work schedule template

 

Daily work schedule template

 This detailed resource planning template is perfect for managing the daily activities of your resources by the hour. It also includes a list of activities for the week along with room for adding notes.

Download: Office.com (Excel)

 

Instead of using templates, save time using resource and traffic management software to manage your team. Learn more about Workamajig’s resource management capabilities here.

 

 

WORK BREAKDOWN STRUCTURES (WBS) TEMPLATES

The work breakdown structure is one of the more important documents you'll create when managing a project.

As we noted earlier, the work breakdown structure involves breaking down deliverables into smaller, more manageable chunks.

Thus, you might break down a bicycle into "wheels, frame, handle" and wheels into "rims, spokes, tires".

 

WBS template

 

A work breakdown structure can have as many levels as necessary, but for most projects, you won't need to go beyond 4-5 decomposition levels. If you need to use verbs to break down the deliverables further (i.e., you are describing activities), you're doing something wrong.

The deliverables at the last level of any WBS are called a "work package." A work package describes all the work necessary to create a single deliverable. A project, then, is a collection of work packages.

Creating a work breakdown structure requires a clear understanding of what a WBS actually involves. You must also understand the project's scope, list deliverables, and determine work packages.

Follow the advice in this article on work breakdown structures to learn more.

Work Breakdown Structure Templates

Instead of doing everything from scratch, use these templates to create a work breakdown structure for your project:

1. Tabular work breakdown structure template

 

Tabular work breakdown structure template

This template uses the tabular format to organize deliverables into different levels. It also includes room to add notes for each deliverable. A downside is that there is no clear visual hierarchy between deliverables at different levels.

Download: Vertex24.com (Excel)

 

 

2. Flowchart work breakdown structure template

 Flowchart work breakdown structure templateThis excel project management template uses the familiar flowchart format for defining deliverables at different levels. You can add your deliverables in the project spreadsheet template and Excel will automatically sort them into a flowchart. Great for visually defining hierarchies.

Download: DemandMetric.com (Excel) - Requires registration

 

3. Word WBS template

 

Word WBS template

Need a simple WBS template without all the complexities of Excel? Then this template is for you. Made in Word, you can just edit the text to add your deliverables. The only downside is that it only supports three levels of deliverables.

Download: MyWordTemplates.org (Word)

 

Create work schedules in minutes using Workamajig. Learn more here.

 

TIMESHEETS

Another one of your responsibilities as a project manager is to track and report how your team spends its time. You'll need this not just to track productivity but also to create client reports.

An automated time-tracking solution built into your project management software is ideal for this purpose. Tools like Workamajig can track your team's activities and create detailed reports for clients.

However, if you don't have access to a time tracking tool, you can also use timesheets and fill them up manually.

You'll want to include the following details in your timesheets:

  • Number of billable hours worked by task
  • Number of billable hours worked by client
  • Team member details (name, position, contact details, etc.)

 

Timesheet Templates

Here are a few timesheet templates for quickly logging your team's activities:

1. Weekly timesheet template by client

 

eekly timesheet template

This template tracks a specific employee’s activities for the entire week. It has room to include details about the client, project, billable hours, and rate for each day.

Download: Office.com (Excel)

 

2. Employee time tracking template

 

mployee time tracking template

 This highly customizable template can be modified to cover any reporting period. By default, it includes fields for identifying the date, project ID, task ID, hours worked, and billable rates. You can change it to cover a specific period and track weekly progress.

Download: Vertex24.com (Excel)

 

3. Monthly timesheet template

 

Monthly timesheet templateDo you need a broader monthly view of an employee’s activities? Then this monthly timesheet template is for you. Use it to track how many hours the employee spent on specific project activities on each day of the week.

Download: Vertex24.com (Excel)

 

Use Workamajig’s resource management capabilities to track employee activities automatically and create detailed reports.

 

COMMUNICATION PLANS

As project managers like to say, communication is about 90% of their job.

You'll spend most of your time communicating, from delegating tasks and solving issues to keeping stakeholders updated on the project's what, why, and when.

A solid communication plan will make your job infinitely easier.

Communication plans help you communicate faster, anticipate client needs, alert your team about issues before they happen, and standardize communication across your entire organization.

Any well-rounded communication plan should include the following:

  • A list of stakeholders on both sides of the table
  • The interest, influence, and objects of each stakeholder
  • Every stakeholder's communication preferences in terms of frequency, tone, format, and deliverables
  • Event-specific communication plan to manage both one-off and recurring meetings
  • Emergency communication plan to deal with contingencies

You can read more about creating a communication plan here.

For a broader understanding of communication in project management, refer to this article on the 5 critical elements of communication plans.

Use this article to set goals for your communication plan.

Communication Plan Templates

Creating an in-depth project management communication plan template from scratch requires much effort. Use these templates to make your job easier:

1. CDC communication plan template

 

DC communication plan templateAs with most templates offered by the CDC, this one is also highly detailed and includes clear instructions on how to use it. It includes a section for stakeholder analysis, version control, and a communication matrix. Although not the best-looking template around, it is detailed enough for most projects.

Download: CDC.gov (Direct file, Word)

 

 

2. Project communication plan template

Project communication plan template

 This template from the MS Office library is meant for marketing teams but can be used in any agency. It includes several sections to streamline communication, including provisions for a risk management plan, change management, and team structure.

Download: Office.com (Word)

 

3. NASA communication plan template

 

NASA communication plan templateThis is one of the most in-depth communication plan templates online. In addition to the usual sections, it includes a “stakeholder interest/power grid” to map the importance vs. interest of each stakeholder. It also includes a section to list your communication principles to ensure consistency across all messages.

Download: NASA.gov (Direct file, Word)

 

4. Project communication management plan template

Project communication management plan template

Created by Marc Arnecke, PMP, this highly customizable project management template can be used in nearly any project. It includes detailed plans for managing meetings, analyzing stakeholders, and developing communication principles.

Download: Magt.biz (Word/PDF)

 

Use Workamajig to keep track of all project documents, including communication plans, and streamline your agency’s operations. Learn more here.

 

RISK MANAGEMENT PLAN TEMPLATES

There are issues in every project that can impact its success. Anticipating these issues and developing strategies to tackle them is done via the risk management plan.

The risk management plan essentially documents five things:

  • Risks: A list of potential risks to the project and their impact on the outcome. Risks are often divided into different categories based on what they will affect - the budget, schedule, or desired goal.
  • Risk probability: What is the probability that a risk will actually occur? Project managers usually look at historical data, industry benchmarks, and known issues to estimate the probability of each risk.
  • Risk impact: What is the impact of the risk on the project? Usually, you'll list the subjective impact of the risk first and assign it an objective rating on a 1-5 scale (1 = lowest impact, 5 = project derailment).
  • Risk priority: Based on the risk probability and impact, you can calculate its priority. A high probability and high impact risk would have top priority.
  • Risk response: How do you seek to mitigate the risk? The risk management plan should contain clear first response steps in case the risk happens.

 

Risk Management Plan Templates

Here are a few risk management plan templates that follow the above guidelines:

1. Detailed risk management plan template

 

Detailed risk management plan template

The state of Georgia created this detailed template for all its internal projects. It includes sections for qualitative and quantitative risk analysis, risk mitigation, and best practices. You can also find detailed instructions on how to use it in your projects.

Download: GTA.Georgia.gov (Direct file, Word)

 

2. Project risk management plan template

Project risk management plan template

Created by Marc Arnecke, PMP, this flexible risk management plan template can be used in nearly any project. It includes room to explain your risk management approach, methodology, and key roles. It also includes a probability/impact matrix to quantify the importance of each risk.

Download: Magt.biz (PDF/Word)

 

3. Generic risk management plan

Generic risk management plan

UTDallas’s risk management plan template is short and simple, with room to document risks, their priorities, and mitigation steps. Use it in simple projects where risks are fairly straightforward and easy to identify.

Download: UTDallas.edu (Direct file, Word)

Keep track of all current and previous risks encountered in projects using Workamajig.

 

GANTT CHARTS

As we learned earlier, Gantt charts are one of the most prominent charting techniques in project management. Though nearly a century old, they still find use across industries in projects of varying complexities.

As a project manager, you’ll use Gantt charts extensively. Anything that can be broken down into constituent tasks can be represented on a Gantt chart. Not only does this help you visualize deadlines, but it can also help you understand task dependencies.

This article explains Gantt charts, their advantages and disadvantages, and how to use them.

While you can create your own Excel template for project management, you’ll save a lot of time using Gantt chart templates.

For an even easier solution, consider using project management software with built-in Gantt charts, such as Workamajig.

 

Gantt Chart Template

 

 Gantt chart templates

Here are a few Gantt chart templates you can use to create charts quickly:

1. Project schedule Gantt chart template

 

Project schedule Gantt chart template

This template includes a detailed list of tasks, their start/end dates, current progress, and of course, a Gantt chart to visualize everything. You can use this in nearly any project.

Download: Vertex24.com (Excel)

 

2. Simple Gantt chart template

 Simple Gantt chart template

This template is for you if you want a simple Gantt chart that can be used quickly for any project. Available from the MS Office template library, it is quite flexible and can be used for small and medium-sized projects.

Download: Office.com (Excel)

 

3. Gantt project planner template

 Gantt project planner template

Do you need a Gantt chart that can also double up as a project plan? Then this is the template for you. Instead of detailed task views, this one focuses on broad activities and their timelines. Use it as a project plan or expand it to create a more detailed chart of all project tasks.

Download: Office.com (Excel)

 

4. PowerPoint Gantt chart template

 

 Gantt charts are not only useful for managing project activities; they can also be used to visualize the project’s progress for clients. This PowerPoint template can help you show clients and stakeholders how the project will unfold.

Download: TemplateTab.com - Grantt Chart Template #31 (PowerPoint)

 

5. Project Gantt chart template

 

Project Gantt chart template

Do you need a Gantt chart template specifically designed for project managers leading complex projects? This one will help. With detailed task lists and a neutral design, this template is perfect for managing a large project with a long list of activities.

Download: Spreadsheet123.com (Excel)

 

6. JavaScript Gantt chart

 

Need a Gantt chart that doesn’t use any proprietary software and can be manipulated in the browser? Then, this template is for you. Made with JavaScript, this template is a full-featured Gantt chart editing tool in your browser. You can list tasks and clearly visualize their dependencies without using additional software.

Download: dhtmlx.com (Zip file) - The standard edition is free; there is an additional charge for the PRO edition.

7. HubSpot Gantt chart

 HubSpot Gantt chart

This easy-to-use Gantt chart template is a part of HubSpot's project management template series, including templates for project memos, budgets, and checklists. The download pages also include instructions on how to use the template.

Download: HubSpot.com (Excel file) 

Create Gantt charts in minutes for all projects using Workamajig’s project management platform. Click here to learn more.

 

EVEN MORE PROJECT MANAGEMENT TEMPLATES

Besides the above, here are a few additional templates for creating risk registers and project budget plans:

Risk Register Templates

The risk register identifies all the potential risks to the project based on current assumptions and past results. This living document will be updated throughout the project as new risks surface.

Use these three templates to create a risk register for the project:

Project Management Budget Template

Defining the budget and how it will be spent is important for successfully delivering projects. Use these templates to create a budget for your project:

Juggling dozens of templates can quickly become challenging. A much faster way to run projects is to use project management software that automatically creates status reports, Gantt charts, project schedules, and work breakdown structures.

Workamajig can help you create all these reports and more. 

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