Develop high level tasks that support the milestones and document these in the project plan template.

GANTT and RAIL project plan

Use this excel spreadsheet to develop and update your project plan. The GANTT format is helpful with people who need to see the high level project plan.

The RAIL - rolling action item list - is useful with team members who are interested in tracking the details of all action items/tasks.

Develop the Milestones and High-Level Tasks

Here is where we develop the work breakdown structure (WBS), as it is known in the Project Management Institute's PMBOK Book of Knowledge. The work breakdown structure consists of the milestones and high level tasks required to deliver your project's goal.

You may not know exactly what these will end up being at the beginning of the project. It could change.

What you are doing here is developing your project baseline, which will likely change over time.

Despite its likelihood to change, this is still an extremely valuable step to take.

The project plan was very useful. I was able to develop phases in the project along with the steps to fulfill the phases
The project plan helped my project, by ensuring no tasks were left unattended. we were able to have regular discussions and ensure we were on the same page and keeping up with tasks. 

Use the attached template to document the plan.

After you've brainstormed the list of milestones, tasks and possibly phases and documented these on paper or a white board, take a picture and transfer this to the excel template. Of course you can start this right off the bat in excel, but it's useful to generate this on a white board or paper if you're doing this as a team exercise first.

The template has instructions for each of the sheets included.

  • Team
  • RAIL
  • RACI

For the high-level milestones and tasks, use the Project Plan_GANTT sheet in the template.

Note the following:

  • The start and end dates automatically calculate for you given the start and end dates of the tasks in that milestone. If you have a different number of tasks than the template, please redo the formulas to include all of the cells with dates for that milestone. The start date is a MIN formula (takes the earliest date). The end date is a MAX formula (takes the latest date).
  • ONLY select one owner for each task and milestone.
  • The owner of the milestone may or may not be the owner of the tasks for that milestone.
  • Use the color-coded legend to show status.
  • The columns are unique weeks, each one starting on a Monday. If the task starts in that week or ends in that week, color the cell according to the legend above for that week.
  • These data DO transfer over to the RAIL. What you enter here will automatically update the RAIL sheet. If you have a different number of tasks for each milestone here, you will need to ensure that additional tasks (rows you add) are copied to the RAIL.

Complete and Continue