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Whether you’re planning to launch a new feature in your product or are managing a long-term project, you will need structure, clarity, and momentum to ensure the project stays on track and is completed successfully. This is where a solid work plan template will come in handy.
A well-built work timeline will enable you to keep an eye on the big picture while also managing the smaller details of the project. In addition, it will provide visibility to the team and stakeholders, keep key tasks and deliverables organized in one place, and improve project communication and collaboration.
To help you get started with planning the activities involved in your project, we’ve put together a series of useful resources that include:
A work plan is a guiding document that articulates the key steps required to move you and your team towards the project’s goals. An effective work plan example sets clear objectives and measurable deliverables that can be turned into concrete actions, and these actions (or tasks) are placed on a timeline so that everyone knows exactly what needs to be done and when.
What your work plan consists of always depends on the particularities of your project. For instance, when you’re applying for a big grant, you’ll probably need to provide quite a lot of details, including budget, whereas for a less formal purpose or communication within your team, you can keep it simpler to ensure clarity. But, in general, a typical work plan sample includes:
Additionally, depending on your needs, you can also include an estimated budget or a set of KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) that will be used to track the success of important milestones along the way as the project progresses.
Once you know the components of a good work plan template, it feels much easier to create your own. So, here are the steps you should follow to create a work plan:
There are multiple ways you can make a work plan graphic. For instance, you can do it manually in a tool you’re familiar with, like PowerPoint or Excel. Or, if you’re used to working in Microsoft Project, the software can automatically make a timeline for your work plan, but you might already know its layout is not quite ideal. The simplest solution would be to use a visual work plan maker or a timeline template like the work plan example above, which will help you save time while also creating a beautiful graphic that everyone will easily understand.
Having the ability to see the plan on a timeline like our free work plan template brings a valuable perspective that is not possible when reading complex project documents or listening to the description of a strategy. This work plan sample was created to help you with the planning of your project and to showcase it to colleagues, customers, suppliers, and executives.
The project work plan template for PowerPoint can be used by anyone who needs to illustrate major milestones and key tasks in chronological order on a timeline. You can use the template to make a high-level model of your plan, or you can add more tasks and milestones and create a more detailed visual. The sample work plan is easy to present and will help any of your stakeholders understand how your strategy will be executed, including what the important deliverables will be along the way and under what time schedule.
The free work plan template was created as a native PowerPoint slide, so colleagues who have Microsoft Office can work together on planning projects or programs. Users can manually add their data to the template’s placeholders, or they can use Office Timeline’s work plan creator for PowerPoint to do it automatically.
Office Timeline is a simple, easy-to-use PowerPoint add-in for project planning. It automates the task of creating project work plans and workback plans by laying out milestones and tasks on a timeline slide in a way that is easy to understand. It works seamlessly with PowerPoint, so you have planning functionality right inside the familiar application.
You can use the free version of the tool to make a simple work timeline fast, or you can get a free trial of the most advanced edition to update this work plan template automatically and create other beautiful project visuals in minutes. Office Timeline integrates with applications like Microsoft Project and Excel, so you can easily import plans from existing tools into PowerPoint and instantly transform them into stunning slides.
Here is a shortlist of the answers to the most common questions asked about project work planning and work plan templates.
Use these key best practices to plan and organize your work effectively:
Define overall goals and objectives.
Determine specific tasks – list all the tasks that need to be carried out in a specific time interval (day, week, month, etc.).
Prioritize and sequence tasks – group the tasks that can be done together or sequence them based on their priority.
Set due dates for each of your tasks.
Establish team responsibilities.
A work plan is a document designed to streamline a project or work initiative. Its purpose is to create a visual reference for the goal, tasks, objectives, and team members who are responsible for each work item.
Get familiarized with the structure of a work plan with the help of our pre-formatted work plan template.
A work plan is an important tool in effectively planning and managing individual or business projects because:
It helps everyone involved communicate more clearly about the project since it lays out the action steps needed to complete it.
It helps you and/or team members stay on track – listing out deadlines and who is responsible for what, a work plan helps people to better focus on the task at hand, understand how their work fits into the bigger picture, and, thus, be more accountable.
It helps manage expectations – a well-crafted work plan surfaces mismatched expectations and different interpretations at the outset, thus reducing the risk of confusion and conflict down the road.
These are the typical elements of a work plan:
Goals and project objectives;
Task assignments (when working with a team);
Timelines, including due dates;
Create your next work plan by simply adding these elements to our customizable work plan template. For more pre-formatted samples that can help you plan and organize your workflows and project plans, check out our timeline template gallery.
The format of a work plan depends on the nature and complexity of the project for which it is created. However, no matter the type of work it needs to document, a work plan should always clearly articulate the required steps to accomplish a stated goal by setting SMART objectives and measurable deliverables that can be materialized.
Here are the main consecutive steps that lead to creating an effective work plan:
Define goals and objectives.
Set success metrics.
Clarify stakeholders and roles.
Align on milestones, deliverables, and project dependencies.
Outline your timeline and schedule.
Communicate your work plan to teams and stakeholders.
To save time and efforts in creating the outline of your work plan, use our easily editable and customizable work plan template.
There is no difference between a work plan and project plan - the two refer to the same thing. Different teams or departments may prefer one denomination over the other, but they both have the same function – to provide an overview of the big-picture action steps required to achieve your project objectives.
Although both of these project plan types list the tasks, resources, and timelines required to reach a desired goal, action plans and work plans should not be confused.
Here are the two major differences between an action plan and a work plan:
Complexity – action plans are simpler than project plans, the former focusing solely on the activities, resources, and schedule needed to hit your project objectives, whereas the latter include sections for other measures, standards, and procedures for completing the project.
Duration – an action plan looks at specific, short-term goals, while a project plan is more encompassing and covers long-term objectives as well.
A work plan template is a pre-built structure that creates a standard format for a work plan. It typically includes a list of essential elements specific to any project, such as stakeholders, scope, timeline of planned activities, estimated costs, and communication method. The user simply replaces the placeholder data with their own to get a customized work plan.
One such example of a customizable, ready-to-use sample is our work plan template that you can easily update right in PowerPoint.
Carry out the following steps to create a work plan in Excel:
In the second row of a new spreadsheet, list your headers Tasks, Responsible, Start, End, Duration, and Status.
Add your project information under their corresponding column.
Add colors to convey status at a glance.
Create a timeline in Excel to visually represent the work plan.
You will notice that the process entails a considerable amount of manual formatting and the resulting timeline may not be very suitable for professional presentations. This is why we suggest you opt for a more time-efficient and professionally designed alternative that requires only the simple customization of our already-made work plan timeline template.
Built as a native PowerPoint slide, the pre-formatted sample can be easily updated using the 14-day free trial of the Office Timeline add-in. For more examples that you can edit and use to plan and manage your project plans, check out our collection of timeline templates or simply choose from the ones below.
Use the Office Timeline PowerPoint add-in to quickly update any of these timeline templates or create your own project visuals. Easily change the texts, dates, colors, shapes and styles of your timeline, right from inside PowerPoint.