Create dynamic project plans with Sheets

Need a quick way to divide work, assign tasks, track due dates, and receive status updates on a project? Track, update, and collaborate on project tasks with your team in a shared spreadsheet using Google Sheets.

Create dynamic project plans with Sheets
1

Set up your project plan

Start by creating your project plan and adding all the information you want to capture from your team.

In this section, you'll learn how to:

1.1

Create a project spreadsheet

To create a project spreadsheet:

  1. In Google Drive, click New > Google Sheets.

  2. Click Untitled spreadsheet and type a new title for your project plan.

  3. Add column headings. For example, you might track the tasks for a project and include columns for task owner, due date, status, and comments.

  4. Add content to the sheet to track the project plan. After you share the sheet, other people can add content as well.

Create a project spreadsheet
1.2

Insert task descriptions

If your column heading or task needs a bit more explanation, add a descriptive note.

  1. Select the column or cells where you want to add a note.
  2. Select Insert > Note.
  3. Type your description.
  4. Click anywhere outside the note to close it.
Insert task descriptions
1.3

Limit choices

If you want to limit the choices in a column, add options that people can choose from. For example, you might want to restrict the options in the Status column to Not started, In progress, or Complete to make it easier for you to sort and track progress.

  1. Select the column where you want to add the choices.
  2. Click Data > Validation.
  3. Next to Criteria, select List of items.
  4. Enter the choices separated by commas.
  5. Click Save.
  6. (Optional) To see the choices, click the arrow in a cell under the column.
Limit choices
1.4

Set up progress trackers

See how your project tasks are progressing at a glance with conditional formatting rules. For example, add colors to make completed tasks stand out from tasks that haven’t been started or are in progress.

  1. Select the column that you want to apply the formatting rules to.

  2. Select Format > Conditional formatting.

  3. Set up the rules. In this example, you assign a different color to tasks that are Complete, Not started, or In progress:

    a On the Single color tab, under Format cells if, select Text contains.

    b In the box under Text contains, type Complete.

    c Under Formatting style, click the list to choose if you want the background or text to be colored.

    d (Optional) Click Text color Text or Fill color Fill color to assign a custom text or background color. If needed, you can specify a color for the text and a color for the background.

    e (Optional) Click Add another rule and follow the same steps to add more rules. For example, assign a red background to Not started tasks and an orange background to In progress tasks.

    f Click Done.

Set up progress trackers
1.5

Add notifications

Stay on top of project updates and status changes with email notifications. You’ll know when someone’s made a change to your project plan, who made the change, when they made it, and what’s changed. You can also choose how often you want to be notified.

  1. In the spreadsheet, select Tools > Notification rules.

  2. Select when and how often you want to receive notifications.

  3. Click Save.

  4. Click Done.

Add notifications
2

Collaborate with your team

Now you’re ready to share the project plan with your team and start collaborating.

In this section, you'll learn how to:

2.1

Lock critical content

Sometimes there are sections of content you don't want your team to edit. Make certain content protected so it can't be edited, or can only be edited by specific people.

  1. Select the cells you want to protect.

  2. Click Data > Protected sheets and ranges.

  3. Click Set permissions.

  4. Do one of the following options:

    • To restrict any changes to certain people, select Restrict who can edit this range and select who can edit the cells.
    • To display a warning to alert people before they make a change, select Show a warning when editing this range.
  5. Click Done.

Lock critical content
2.2

Create a Google Group for your team

To send emails to your team using a single email address and simplify sharing, set up a Google Groups email list.

As you add new people to your groups, they automatically gain access to content you previously shared with the group. Similarly, if you remove someone from a group, that person no longer has access to any content you shared with the group.

  1. In Groups, click CREATE GROUPS.

  2. Enter a group name and group email address.

  3. For group type, select Email list.

  4. Specify who can view topics, post messages, and join the group by assigning roles:

    • Member—Can post to the group.
    • Manager—Can post to the group. Can approve, add, or remove members.
    • Owner—Can add members. By default, the group’s creator is an owner, but you can add other owners, too.
  5. Click CREATE.

  6. Click Invite people to join the group.

  7. Enter email addresses of the people you want to invite to join the group.

  8. Click Send invites.

Create a Google Group for your team
2.3

Share the spreadsheet with your team

Next, share the project plan with your team members (or with the group you created for your team).

To share a file you own or can edit:

  1. Open the file you want to share.

  2. Click Share.

  3. Enter individual email addresses (or just your project team’s Google Groups address).

  4. Choose what kind of access you want to grant people:

    • Can edit—Collaborators can add and edit content, or add comments. If you want your team members to update the project plan themselves, choose this option.
    • Can comment—Collaborators can add comments, but not edit content.
    • Can view—People can view the file, but not edit or add comments.
  5. (Optional) Add a note describing the project plan.

  6. Click Send.

Everyone you shared the file with will receive an email with a link to it. If you gave your team members edit access, they can:

  • Add or update content, like tasks, owners, and due dates.
  • Filter content to show what they’re interested in.
  • Insert comments addressed to specific people.
  • Update the status for tasks.
  • Add descriptive notes to tasks.
Share the spreadsheet with your team
2.4

Organize information by filtering

Want to see only tasks assigned to you or due on a specific day? Create a filter view. Save it for later use or email a team member a link to the view so they can focus on what’s important to you.

  1. Select Data > Filter views > Create new filter view.
  2. At the top, click next to Name and enter a name for the filter view.
  3. Click the arrows in the column headers and select options to sort and filter the data.
  4. (Optional) To email a link to the filter view, copy the URL and paste it in an email.
  5. At the top right, click Close X to close your filter view. Your filter view is automatically saved.
Organize information by filtering
2.5

Add comments and targeted feedback

If you want feedback on a particular task, have a question, or need to assign a task to someone, add comments in your spreadsheet.

  1. Select the cell where you want to add a comment.

  2. Click Insert comment Docs insert comment.

  3. (Optional) To direct your comment to a specific person, type a plus sign (+) followed by their email address. That person will get an email with your comment and a link to the file.

  4. Type your comment in the box.

  5. Click Comment.

Add comments and targeted feedback
3

Do more with G Suite

G Suite is more powerful when you use the products together as a package. Here are some key ways to work faster and collaborate better on your project plan.

In this section, you'll learn how to:

3.1

Attach your project plan to team meetings

Make sure everyone has the latest copy of the project plan before the meeting—attach your project plan to the Google Calendar meeting invitation. Team members, both onsite and remote, can access and update it in real time. You can even spend the first few minutes of the meeting getting status updates from everyone, and updating the project plan accordingly.

To attach your project plan to a Calendar invite:

  1. In Calendar, double-click your event.

  2. Click Add attachment.

  3. Choose the project plan spreadsheet and click Select.

  4. Click SAVE.

Attach your project plan to team meetings
3.2

Present project plans over video calls

Present your project plan during your team meetings so everyone, including remote members, are on the same page.

To present your project plan:

  1. In Drive, open your project plan.

  2. In the Hangout, click Share screen Hangouts share screen.

  3. Choose the window you want to share that shows your project plan.

Now people can follow your spreadsheet as you present and make updates. Stop sharing your screen at any time by clicking Share screen Hangouts share screen.

Present project plans over video calls
3.3

Embed project plans on your team site

Share a master copy of your project plan on your team website. Updates to the spreadsheet automatically appear on your website.

To embed your project plan on your team site:

  1. In Google Sites, open the page on your website where you want to embed the spreadsheet.

  2. At the top of the page, click Edit Sites edit.

  3. Click Insert > Drive and select Spreadsheet.

  4. Choose your project plan and click Select.

  5. Click SAVE.

  6. At the top of page, click Save.

Embed project plans on your team website
3.4

Access and edit on the go

When you’re away from your desk, you can still view and edit your project plan on your phone or tablet. Just download the Sheets app. Any changes you make automatically sync to the web and to all your other devices, so you’re always up to date, everywhere.

On Android devices:

  1. Touch the Google Play icon.
  2. Find and install the Google Sheets app.

On iOS devices:

  1. Touch the App Store icon.
  2. Find and install the Google Sheets app.
Access and edit on the go

Next steps

Try it now

Make a copy of this project plan template to give Sheets a try.

Open Sheets template

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