5 Free Project Management Templates You Can Use

Are you hunting for free project management templates? Well, look no further because you've come to the right place!

Templates help you kick-start the thinking process and guide you to filling out the proper content for documents and reports.

Whenever I'm stuck in a project and not sure how to document issues, deliverables or other concepts, I start hunting for a template.

Professional project managers usually accumulate tens or hundreds of templates based on their experience in multiple projects.

There are many templates out there which you can use - you should pick few key ones that work for you and stick with them.

In this article, I'd like to share with you 5 of my favorite ones. You can download them for free for your own usage.

1. Project Charter Template

First up, let's talk about the Project Charter template.

Why It's Important

The Project Charter is one of the most important documents for a project manager. It sets out the scope or work, key assumptions and dependencies, stakeholders and their roles and responsbilities.

When To Use It

I use the Project Charter at the start of the project. Before your project gets deep into details, you should use the Project Charter as a way to showcase project scope and benefits. Typically I carry the document with me and visit all my stakeholders (carrying out very intense conversations, especially during the initial weeks of the project).

Tip: Take the time to do up a Project Charter. Many project managers don't have this document - thinking it is "just documentation".

Don't be fooled! The Project Charter is the document I use to give a "road show" on the project. Use it heavily to sell your project to your stakeholders.

Here is a screenshot of my Project Charter template which you can download here.

my project charter template My Project Charter Template

2. Project Calendar Template

The Project Calendar is something I also use very often.

Why It's Important

If you're in a project with a LOT of meetings or workshops scheduled, it is very difficult to visualize who goes to which meeting and when. I use the Project Calendar as a way of visually representing that information. This way, every participant is absolutely clear on when he or she has to turn up for a meeting.

When To Use It

You should use the Project Calendar template whenever there are a lot of meetings with multiple participants.

Tip: A nice thing to do is to attach a little "What Is Expected Of You" write-up within the Project Calendar, perhaps in a separate Excel tab. This instructs meeting participants on the input they're expected to provide during the meeting and helps them prepare beforehand for a more fruitful session.

Here is a screenshot of my Project Calendar template which you can download here.

my project calendar template My Project Calendar Template

3. Issue Log Template

All projects have issues and action items to follow up on. The Issue Log template is the tool to manage these.

Why It's Important

As a project manager, you are saddled with possibly tens or hundreds of issues or action items (in various categories) at any one time. There is no way you can keep track of them in your head or even in a Moleskin notebook.

You need to track the issues in a log and mark out who is the owner and what the due date is. You should also be able to tag the category of the issue for easier retrieval.

Here is a screenshot of my Issue Log template which you can download here. I've used this in a HUGE number of projects. It works very well.

my issue log template My Issue Log Template

Tip: Under the Status column of the issue log, you can type in multiple comments. Make sure you date each comment with something like "Gary 20 Jun 2012: This issues was raised because ...". When you get a new update, continue to add it (with a date) into the status box. This allows you to keep track of a history of developments against that issue. Very useful for audit purposes.

When To Use It

You'll use the issue log whenever you come across issues or action items in your project. The trick is to immediately record the items as and when they come up. If you delay a few days before recording them, you will tend to forget. So the next time you have a project issue, make it a habit to immediately record it down onto the issue log.

4. Project Status Report Template

I use the Project Status Report for management meetings where I have to give updates on how the project is progressing.

Why It's Important

The Project Status Report template is useful whenever you want to give an update on how things are moving in the project. You usually have a timeline and mark out where you are against it. You also have items like what has been achieved, milestones completed and remaining, as well as key issues which need management attention.

my project status report template My Project Status Report Template

When To Use It

Use the template whenever you have to report on project progress. Since it is a condensed and tight update, it is suitable for senior management. For ground level updates you may need more detail, e.g. an issue log.

The Project Status Report template is typically a pain to create from scratch. I suggest you use one version and stick with it for your projects. The version can be downloaded here.

5. Scope Change Template

A project typically has changes in scope somewhere along its lifetime. I like to use a scope change template for this purpose. Download it here.

Why It's Important

The Scope Change template is your weapon against scope change. It contains information like why the change is required, what is the business justification for it and how much it will cost to implement the change. For users who are trigger happy and request changes to a system you're delivering, the mere sight of the scope change form and the stuff they have to fill in - might make them think twice.

I usually use it to make my users really think about why they need a change. Projects have fixed scope and timelines. Requesting changes will result in delays or extra resource cost so they should be avoided where possible.

my scope change templateMy Scope Change Template

When To Use It

The Scope Change template should be used whenever you detect a change in scope in the project. Furnish it to the user and refuse to consider accepting the change request unless all data has been provided in the template.

6. Other Places to Get Templates

You might also be interested in other places to get project management templates. The stuff I have above are great for adhoc use and they are from my personal library.

If, however, you're looking for some industrial strength project management templates, I suggest you don't go for free ones. You get what you pay for. Go for proper template bundles like this. They're great and you can literally find ANY template you want in there.

Tip: You can also build up your own template library. The trouble with this is that we don't necessarily have ALL possible templates out there. Maybe you need a more specific template like a Test Management Plan. It's not easy to create one yourself or find a reliable free sample. But in a professional template package you can usually find one.

Wrapping Up ...

Great! I hope the above has helped you understand what free project management templates are available out there. Try downloading one of my templates and use them in your projects in future!

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