You’ve got responsibility for a project. And yet; somehow the organization doesn’t have the project documentation you need to get it started, keep it on track and close it down successfully.
So you turn to the internet to find the paperwork you need.
Let me make it easier for you. I have researched the best places to get free project management templates for download online. And listed them all out for you below.
In this article:
- How to Use Free Project Management Templates
- 1. GirlsGuideToPM.com Free Templates
- 2. ProjectManagement.com
- 3. ProjectManager.com
- 4. GanttPRO templates for schedules
- 5. Infrastructure & Projects Authority assurance templates
- 6. PRINCE2 Templates from Axelos
- 7. Project Bliss
- 8. Excel Templates from Vertex42
- 9. Program Management Templates from University of Illinois
- 10. Project Methodology Templates from University of Bristol
These are all good, reliable sources of quality documentation for projects.
But before we get to the template websites, let’s have a quick recap about how to use the stuff you download.
How to Use Free Project Management Templates
You can find free project management templates to download all over the internet. You’ll find Excel and Word versions in the main, with some compatible with Google Docs/Drive, and some bespoke to the platform providing the template.
However, the quality of free templates varies greatly. Some are massively detailed and some are at a very high level. My first tip is that you’ll have to look around to find one for what you need and that fits your project management environment.
Here are some more tips for using free templates.
- Remember to change headers and footers in the document to reflect your own project name and organization’s details
- Change any logo to your own (or don’t have a logo at all)
- Change fonts to your corporate font – that’s a big giveaway when sharing documents internally!
- Only download templates from websites where you are confident in the source – don’t take any risks downloading files from sites that look and feel dodgy, to minimize the risk of accidentally downloading a virus
- Save a blank version of the template, then save another version with a file name related to your project. Keep the blank version blank, and fill in the copy. That makes it easier when you want to use the template again (especially if you deleted huge chunks of it as the contents wasn’t particularly relevant to your first project: but doh! You need all those deleted sections for your next project)
- Edit, edit, edit! Change the template to suit your needs. What you download might not be perfectly appropriate for your organization. Feel free to change the documents so that they are actually useful. Add sections, take sections away. A free template is a starting point, not a tablet written in stone.
I’ve done the searching for you and found legitimate and helpful sources of project management templates online that are free to download. Let’s go!
1. GirlsGuideToPM.com Free Templates
It would be wrong of me not to include my own resources on this list! Plus the templates I have for you are awesome.
There are plenty of free templates available on this site. I’ve collated them all into one resource library. It’s a password-protected page of the blog with direct links to everything for you to download.
The most downloaded resource is the Career Planner.
Inside the resource library you can also find:
- A multi-project report template on a page
- A project initiation checklist
- A project organization chart
And a bunch of other useful things to save you starting from scratch.
When I don’t have a template or guide I can direct people to, the next place I send them is ProjectMangement.com.
This site has a library of free templates. You’ll need to sign up to access the resources, but that’s free and there are also active discussion forums. If you are a PMI member, you’ll get access to the resources marked Premium as well, so that’s an added bonus.
The listings can be a little hard to navigate to find exactly what you want, so use the search box on the site to help narrow down what you are looking for. I also think that the templates are sometimes over-engineered for smaller projects, so you may have to simplify them .
If you are looking for information on project budgeting, check out my blog over at ProjectManagement.com, The Money Files.
ProjectManager.com is a software tool, but they have a massive set of resources that work without their software.
Whether you are looking for a To Do list template or a project proposal document, these Excel and Word templates will save you from starting from scratch.
4. GanttPRO templates for schedules
If you are looking for a starting point for a Gantt chart, GanttPRO has a bunch of Gantt chart templates you can use covering product launches, event planning, maintenance schedule, marketing, retail, creating a course/education program, and more.
You don’t have to register to see the template, but they are Gantt chart templates designed to work within GanttPRO. Once you’ve started customizing it, you’ll need to create an account if you want to keep it.
If you don’t want to use GanttPRO, or can’t for some reason, the template Gantt charts will still give you a good idea of the tasks, phases and milestones for you to include in your own planning.
5. Infrastructure & Projects Authority assurance templates
The Infrastructure & Projects Authority (IPA) arranges and manages project assurance reviews for the UK governments’ complex and high-risk projects.
They have a suite of guidance available on assurance and internal review, including some templates. My favorite is the “critical friend” template, which is most relevant for the kind of work most of us do – given that there aren’t that many project managers in the world running complex government transformation projects with budgets that run into the billions, and accountability to taxpayers.
6. PRINCE2 Templates from Axelos
If you work in a PRINCE2 environment, you’ll be aware that it’s quite document-heavy! The latest version of PRINCE2 has a focus on tailoring, so you should be picking and choosing the documentation that you need, instead of creating everything.
However, you’re always going to need the basics, and you can get free editable Word versions of several PRINCE2 core documents from Axelos. They have:
- Business case
- Project brief
- Project initiation document.
You’ll have to create a free account to be able to access the templates.
7. Project Bliss
Leigh Espy’s blog, ProjectBliss.net, has a range of downloadable, practical project management templates, with no software bias attached.
Her scope statement template is particularly useful – scope creep is one of the project management bug bears, so start out the way you intend to continue and squash it from the beginning!
8. Excel Templates from Vertex42
Vertex42 is a site dedicated to Excel, so if you are like many of the project managers I know, and use Excel heavily for task management and tracking, you could find some good templates here.
The Excel project-related templates include an earned value tracker, work breakdown structure template, sample timelines and Gantt charts and more. There are lots, so it’s definitely worth taking a look to save yourself a job.
They also work with Google Sheets.
9. Program Management Templates from University of Illinois
Do a search for “.edu project management template” and you’ll find quite a lot of universities have a PMO that makes templates available for general use.
They are obviously aimed at projects run within the university environment, but you could just as easily adapt them for other industries. Project management is nothing if not transferable.
The University of Illinois has a particularly good selection. Check out the artifacts per lifecycle stage for a bunch of project management templates, and the program management toolkit for documentation for the wider PMO.
10. Project Methodology Templates from University of Bristol
The same approach works for .ac.uk sites, which can also help you find a bunch of templates suitable for managing projects in any industry. As with many of the sources mentioned in this article (including my own templates) you’ll have to take off the original logo and replace that with your own (or nothing).
The University of Bristol Strategic Projects and Programs site has a range of available project management templates, particularly aimed at a PRINCE2 environment, as that is what the university uses itself – and the templates are predominantly for internal use.
They are mainly Microsoft Office documents and are mainly related to project control documentation like the functional spec and various reports.
With the huge range of project templates available for free online, you may be able to find everything you need. However if you are looking for more detailed documentation, or curated template bundles, check out my online store.
My paid-for templates come with detailed notes to explain what to put in what section and some have examples. All are great value for money and everything you need to save time and get started managing projects in a reliable, repeatable and efficient way.
Note: These sources were reliable and correct as at 28 June 2019. It’s your responsibility to make sure you are downloading templates that are suitable for use in your project environment, and it’s your responsibility to make sure you are following any restrictions on using free templates.