Project Planning Template Free Download : Forward and Backward Process

How long will this take? Can you find out how many resources will we need? How many weeks will this run for? Can we do it faster if we throw more resources at the task? This Planning Excel Template will help in answering similar questions which most of the us face everyday.

Project Planning Template Free Download
Project Schedule Planning

Features about the Planning Excel Template

  • Template is designed to help a PM calculate project duration and thus address one of the key components of project management which is the schedule.
  • Gives an overall effort for the project.
  • A Gantt View of the plan which makes it easy for everyone to understand.
  • Auto calculates the task duration based on effort, FTE (Full time employee) and holidays.
  • Auto calculates the task end date.
  • Start date is driven by predecessor.
  • It’s free to download and use!!!

A few checks before you start your planning 

  • Talk to the stakeholders and find out if there is an expectation with the delivery.
  • Get an estimate for each of the work streams or technologies involved.
  • Create a list of holidays for the duration of the project.
  • Know the resources constraints which include part time working arrangements.
  • Identify the dependencies between technologies/work streams. For example if there is a dependency between Java and DB tasks so that you can make sure that DB tasks starts only after the Java task is complete.
  • If you have anyone who is new in the team consider some ramp time for them in your plan.

How to use the excel planning template

  • There are generally two ways you can approach project schedule or timeline planning.  
  • First, forward planning in which we start from a date and then arrive at the completion date. 
  • Second, backward planning in which we pick an end date and then plan backwards to see when we should start and how much can be done. 
  • Now we will look at both the approaches with an example for each. 

Forward Planing Process with an Example

We will use BRMS Implementation as an example and technologies involved with estimation are :
  • Analysis ( 5 days)
  • Rules Engine ( 80 days)
  • Java (50 days)
  • Database (25 days)
  • Testing (40 days)
  • Config Management ( 10 days)
  • User Testing ( 20 days)

Note Assumption here is that the first 3 tasks can be done in parallel after analysis is complete and rest of them need to be sequential.

Step 1: Add the resource type to the data section. 
Step 2: Add the high level tasks into the planning section. ( you can delete rest of the rows.)
Step 3: Enter the appropriate Task Name and select a resource type.
Step 4: Select a start date.
Step 5: In the effort column enter the estimate noted above.
Step 6: Enter the FTE column to 1 so that duration is calculated accordingly. 
DO NOT CHANGE THE Dur COLUMN AS IT IS AUTOMATED.
Step 7:  Select the predecessor in the pre column for task 2,3 and 4 to 1.
Step 8: For Testing select the longest development task which is task 2. 

After completing the above steps your plan should look like below. The total effort 220 days and completion time around end of September with the project duration of 26 weeks.

Project Forward Planning
Forward Planning Option 1
Generally, when you present a plan to senior management or business it is good to have some options ready. You can consider either adding more resources or reduce the project scope.

For the above example lets assume we add two more resources for the rules engine task. It is important to consider the ramp up time that the new resources will need.  Also, when a task is divided into there will some additional time spent in integrating and co-ordination. In this case we will increase the estimate for the task to 90 days due the additional resource training and overheads.

Forward Planning
Forward Planning Option 2

Backward Planing with an Example

The backward planning or also known as capacity planning is the process in which a project manager will be given a fixed date and fixed resources.The PM will then come up with what can be achieved in this time span. 

We will assume that you have 1 Analyst, 1 PHP Developer, 1 Database Developer, 1 Tester and supporting SMEs for Implementation. You will be given 16 weeks to deliver the system changes. We will use the following simple but fundamental SDLC principles -

  • One of the basic fundamentals is that Analysis, Development, Testing and Implementation are dependent on each other and cannot start before the previous is complete.  
  • It is vital to remember in the planning process that you can deliver only what you can test. 
  • The implementation phase of the project is of fixed duration for 5 days.

Project Backward Planing with an Example
Backward planning example

Step 1: Keep only the first 5 tasks and delete rest of the tasks in the template.
Step 2: Select the resource type as Analyst, PHP, DB, Testing, User Acceptance and implementation.
Step 3: Provide a suitable name for task for the resource types.
Step 4: To start with have an effort of 10 days for all the tasks.
Step 5: Increase the effort by 5 days till you come to a point where the implementation is in the 16th week.

The most optimal capacity numbers are Analysis (20) , PHP and DB (30) , Testing (25) and Implementation (5) .

The next step will be to get the estimates for the work to be done and then fit it into the above numbers to see what can be delivered. After getting the estimates you may reduce the one of the project phases to be able to deliver more.



Click here to Download Project Schedule Planning Excel Template


Swapnil Wale

Written by

Swapnil Wale is an IT Professional based in Sydney, Australia with over 10 years of experience in technology and project management. He is a passionate blogger and focuses on project management and BRMS articles.

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