Hi there readers,
First of all, let me thank all of you. I just reached 11K views since I started this blog in Q3 2013. Amazing, thank you all for reading the blog.
This post has been on my mind for quite some time now, ever since I wrote the 80-20 blogpost. Microsoft offers a number of standard templates trough their service Office.com that can be reached via the application. There are templates for Word, Excel, PowerPoint and even Microsoft Project. Great! But, have you ever taken a look at what is there? Me neither, so let’s take a look together.
—————– Supplement 06-11-2015 —————–
Erik here, I took a close look at all the comments and decided to upload the 5 templates I discussed in this article to the Project Corner OneDrive. There seems to be an issue with the office.com templates where some people are unable to access them. Please feel free to download any of the files that are on The Project Corner OneDrive. Hope you enjoy the rest of the post.
Getting to the Office.com templates
How do we view the templates? I will use Microsoft Project Professional 2013. Go to backstage, hit new, and view the already available templates there, or do a search. I did a search for “Project” and got this hit:
Some awesome templates I found
PMBOK compliant Project Management
Created by Sensei Project Management (Microsoft partner of the year 2014, and authors of multiple books I reviewed). This is a sweet template that uses new 2013 features very nicely. As well as creating a great template to use when you are scheduling according to the PMBOK. The great feature that they use in the template is actually a reporting page, recreated to be a source of information about PMBOK best practices, including some links to websites and even a nifty description where MS Project comes into play when you are managing a project (The Project Management tap). The knowledge area’s page has all the 10 areas with clickable buttons that redirect you to a schedule part that is especially created for that area.
Apart from a manually scheduled summary task on ID 55, 71 and 74 I could not find anything immediately wrong with the schedule. But hey, the focus is more on the reporting and text. Also, I have not read the PMBOK, so maybe there are some theoretical things I might be missing.
Agile Project Management
Created by Microsoft. Also a new template that uses the 2013 features very nicely. The Agile scheduling method is different from the traditional waterfall schedule, and currently all the hype around the Project Management world. Here is the Wikipedia page if you want to read up.
I have not had an opportunity to run a Agile project from start to finish with a client yet, so I hope people reading this blog can comment on the usefulness of this template when planning Agile.
New business plan
Created by Microsoft. A relatively simple project template, but good for a quick overview of dependencies, phases, resource utilization and over allocation (19, 21 and others). Too bad it has an empty row on ID103 and therefore 2 empty rows in the schedule. Remember, empty rows are not at all empty! There is data stored in the row, this holds true with the older versions of the tool more then with 2013, but I would still advise against it.
Create a budget
Another nice Microsoft template that focusses on a specific functionality within Microsoft Project. Creating and using the Budget resources is something of an art form. With this template you will feel yourself becoming an artist!
There are 5 neat chapters within the template, navigating back to the main page is done by clicking Report –> Recent –> Create a budget.
The third chapter might need some extra explanation: We are missing the “Cost column”. With that column added to the view you can see what happens to the complete schedule when you are successfully implementing budgets and work and costs correctly.
Something that needs to be mentioned: Budget resources ONLY work on the project summary task! No other task will hold a budget resource. Some companies tend to use baselines rather than Budget resources for that reason alone. Here is a screenshot that shows the Resource sheet page of the template, really nice:
I found one mayor issue with the template, the “Watch this demo” video doesn’t work. I really wanted to check out how this would look, would a special window open within Project? Or would it just be a YouTube link? I bet it would be the last, I have not heard any functionality to open video files directly within MS Project (because that would just be silly).
A template, designed by Microsoft, to teach you how to track project progress by using Earned Value management. That sounds like something every EV enthusiast should take a look at once in their life. It has a nice definition stating that:
“Earned value management helps you quantify the performance of a project. It compares costs and schedules to a baseline to determine if the project is on track.
If the charts don’t look right, make sure you have set a baseline, assigned costs to tasks or resources, and entered progress.”
Taking the last sentence very serious; I believe every project should have a baseline, costs and resources assigned… And without progress, why would we even start planning anything?
So those are some of the gems I found in the “thousands of online templates”. When you search on the new page yourself, you might find another template that deserves a close look. Let me know about it in the comments and I might add it to this post. I am also very curious about what Agile project managers and Earned Value guru’s think about these templates. Please if you have an opinion on these templates share them with the other readers.
Thank you so much for sticking around for this somewhat extensive post. Keep your eyes open (or subscribe to the blog) for more Project goodness!