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How to Make & Maintain a Project List


A project list is the starting point for any project management process. They’re a great way to take what seems an insurmountable amount of disparate tasks and organize them. A project list can be as simple as a to-do list or a corral for many projects.

Using a project list is so important it’s worth taking a moment to explore what it is, how to create one and how it fits into managing your project with project management software tools.

ProjectManager's task list

What Is a Project List?

The most straightforward answer is that a project list is a to-do list for a project. You could use a project list as you would any to-do list, creating a list of tasks you need to do today, this week or over the course of a month.

But it can be so much more than a to-do list, too. You can use it to collect the phases of your project, the teams, contractors and vendors you’ll need to complete it, the equipment, tools and more. Project lists can help you frame every part of the project work for better task management .

The versatility of a project list can’t be overstated. If you’re managing a portfolio or program and have lots of projects to keep track of, a project list can serve as the structure that keeps your portfolio from devolving into a chaotic mess. It can remind you of important dates and deadlines, shared resources and other key elements.

(It’s worth pointing out that sometimes the term “project list” is also used to describe an attachment that a project manager adds to their resume when job hunting. That is, a literal list of all the projects they have worked on. Similar to the task-list type of project list, it generally follows the same rules for an outline, though it describes complete projects.)

Why Make a Project List?

A project list can serve as a checklist that makes sure you have all the important project information logged and accessible. You want to be thorough. It’s better to have too many than too few items—you can always edit it down later.

Another reason to be thorough is that project lists keep you organized. Especially in traditional projects, every activity is assigned a process and level of urgency. You can use a project list to detail those steps, including the priority, due date, who’s assigned, what resources are needed and more. Once you have this information, you’ll want to trim the fat. You want the list short, but substantial.

A project list is a living document: it should always be open to updates. Project information changes as you develop your project plan and schedule. Even once a project is being executed, there are likely internal and external forces that are going to force you to adapt or delete some parts of the project list.

How Do I Make a Project List?

Now that you’re ready to make a project list, where should you start? Most people begin with a pen and paper, or the notes app on their phone, and just jot things down. There’s nothing wrong with this static approach, but it doesn’t lend itself to collaboration, and you often need other people involved to get the full picture.

Another problem with just making a list is that all the work you do there will have to be transferred to whatever tool you’re using to manage the project. A piece of paper is great for going to shop at the store, but not as helpful if you’re managing architects, engineers and contractors when building a bridge.

Building a Project List with Project Management Tools

If you start with a project management tool, then you’re already ahead of the game. Most will allow you to import a spreadsheet if you gathered your initial thoughts there, and then you have the ability to assign, track and report on progress to make sure you stay on schedule.

Even better is if you’re using an online project management tool for your project list. This means that you’ll be able to collaborate with your team in planning, keep stakeholders in the loop and access your plan anywhere and at any time.

How to Maintain and Prioritize a Project List

Using project management software to build your project list gives you the tools to maintain it over the course of every project phase. First, you can collect the items on your list. If they’re tasks, add the duration and description, so your team knows what to do.

Tag Priority

Tagging the priority of each item on your project list is another step in organizing your work. It helps you see which activities must occur first, those that are not as important to the project and which can be skipped if time or money becomes scarce.

Use Timeline Views

Moving the project list into a timeline allows you to see all the items in one place on a chronological chart. This gives you an overview and can help you see where you can tighten things up or need to add more activities to your list.

Use Gantt Chart Features

If you’re using a Gantt chart, which is both a spreadsheet and a timeline, then you get even more control over your project list. Some of the items might be dependent on others to start or finish before they can start or finish. Linking these dependencies saves you from bottlenecks later on.

Track Resources

Once you execute your project list there are other project management tools that will help you stay on track. For example, having resource management features can help you see the availability of your team and balance their workload to keep them more productive.

How to Make a Project List in ProjectManager

ProjectManager is a cloud-based project management tool that helps you organize your project and teams, so everyone can collaborate on plans and tasks. Moving your project plan into its interactive Gantt chart helps you better schedule, link dependencies, set milestones and a baseline to measure project variance once you execute.

Try the software free for 30 days and then see what it can do in giving you greater control over your project list and more. Once you’re in, here’s how to get started.

Build Your Project List

Add tasks to the Gantt chart to begin. You can also import a task list or use one of our industry-specific templates to help you get started.

ProjectManager's Gantt chart, ideal for creating project lists

Add Durations

Set the start date and the due date for each of the tasks on your project list. This is called the duration and will populate the timeline, with a duration bar connecting both dates.

A screenshot of a gantt chart in ProjectManager, showing a project list and a project schedule

Set Priority & Tags

Tag the priority of each item on your project list to determine the order in which to do them. You can also add customizable tags, which make it easier to find specific tasks. This may be easier to do in the list view, rather than the Gantt view.

ProjectManager's task list

Link Dependencies

Drag and drop one task to the next on your timeline and they’re connected by a dotted line to remind you that these tasks are dependent on one another.

Gantt chart in project manager with dependencies popup

Bonus Step: View All Your Projects in One Place

Use the Portfolio Projects page to see all your projects in a project master list. From this page, you can get high-level metrics on progress and more.

ProjectManager's personal task lists

ProjectManager is an award-winning project management tool to build, organize and track the progress on your project lists. But that’s just the basics. Your project list is integrated into a full suite of features that help you plan, manage resources, track progress and report on performance, whether you’re working on one project or a portfolio. Click here to start your 30-day free trial!

Click here to browse ProjectManager's free templates

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Project Central

A Simple Project Checklist for Occasional Project Managers

If managing projects was never in your job description but you’ve got a project to get done, you may be running in circles trying to make sense of what to do first.

We’re here to help.

In this post, we’ll give you a simple project checklist that you can use to start off your project right .

Let’s take a look!

Why Do You Need a Project Checklist?

Honestly? Because projects don’t have to be as complicated as they may seem.

If you’re not a professional project manager, or if you’re a team lead who has to manage a project for the first time, you may find yourself juggling a lot of responsibilities.

And when there’s too much on your plate, it’s impossible to know where to get started.

Our checklist is going to cover the essentials so you don’t forget a thing and ensure your project gets completed in time.

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Make project management easier with Project Central for Microsoft 365.

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A Simple Project Management Checklist

Project Initiation and Planning: Define the Project

The first phase is project initiation.

Communication is crucial at this point; you have to understand both the project and the stakeholders’ expectations.

1. Define your project

Get your clients in the same room to define:

  • Deliverables and objectives (What results will the project produce?)
  • Key performance indicators (Metrics that will determine whether the project was successful and help you track performance)
  • Expectations (What problems do the clients expect to resolve with this project?)
  • Scope, budget and timeframe .

Depending on who your clients are, they may need guidance to properly define their project.

Aim to always establish the exact objectives, budget, scope, and timelines.

Avoid vague discussions , and write everything down.

When establishing project objectives, try to use the SMART goal-setting method. Every objective should be:


Source: Developmental.au

For example, your client could say that they want to produce an online banking application that can serve up to 10.000 users per day, within three months.

2. Create a Work Breakdown Structure

Clients and top management have all kinds of ideas.

However, it’s up to you as the project manager to establish whether those ideas are even achievable in terms of resources and objectives.

The next item on your project checklist should be to create a work breakdown structure (WBS) .

A WBS will help you define all the tasks and activities that need to be completed in order to finish the project.

Your WBS will help you identify all the requirements, and then break them down into tasks.

You’ll understand task dependencies – which tasks have to be completed first?

This way, you’ll clearly see all the resources you need to complete different tasks.

Additionally, you’ll also determine the critical path – the task completion sequence that will help you finish the project in the shortest possible time, with the lowest possible costs.

We recommend you standardize and accelerate the project setup and planning process, including building your WBS with dependencies, using project management templates for Microsoft 365 .

Get started with Project Central

See how to make project management easier with Microsoft 365.

3. Meet with Stakeholders

After creating your WBS, meet with the stakeholders again.

Determine whether they still want you to carry out the project.

Often, the WBS uncovers constraint problems.

For example, the project may need a bigger budget than the clients are prepared to allocate.

You may need more time.

Or the project will simply take a lot more work than the client previously thought.

4. Create Your Project Plan

When all the stakeholders are on board, it’s time to create your project plan.

It should contain:

  • The project scope statement
  • A project schedule
  • Project risk plan
  • Change policy
  • The project communication plan.

Your project plan is like a road map.

It’ll tell you exactly what you need to do, what resources you need to do it, how to handle risks and problems, and how to keep stakeholders informed (without getting a headache).

5. Choose a Communication and Project Management Tool

Technically, you could manage projects with just a piece of paper, but it’ll make things a lot harder.

It’s better to get a visual task and project management tool .

Project Central for Microsoft 365

It’ll help you increase transparency every step of the way:

  • You’ll be able to monitor project performance and progress
  • Your team members will know exactly what they need to do
  • Other stakeholders will stay in the loop.

Depending on the specifics of your project, you may need a project management tool only to communicate with your team and improve your productivity.

However, if you’re working on a longer project, the external stakeholders (e.g. clients, top management) will likely want to be kept in the loop regarding your progress.

You can easily adjust permissions in your task management software and allow them to see how far you’ve come.

6. Create a Schedule for Your Project Team

Once all the stakeholders have signed off on the project plan, it’s time to make a schedule for your team:

1. Define tasks and add them to your task management software

2. Set deadlines

3. Assign tasks to team members

4. Identify task dependencies

5. Set priorities in your PM tool.

7. Monitor Your Project Progress and Performance

Step 7 is one of the most important ones in your project checklist.

You can’t just add tasks to your PM tool and forget about it.

Instead, you should proactively manage your performance.

Use Gantt charts or dashboard reporting features to streamline reporting.

If you set it up right in a tool like Project Central , you’ll be able to review your progress at a glance.

Check your WBS and your schedule periodically to ensure you are following the plan and the critical path.

8. Manage Issues and Risks

Projects are dynamic, so you’ll likely come across issues and risks.

If you’ve created good change and risk policies and processes in the initiation phase, you’ll know exactly what to do.

When you encounter a problem that doesn’t affect the main three constraints: time, budget, and scope, add it to your backlog .

If the problem affects the principal three, consult your team and your stakeholders to revise the plan.

Risk Management Process

Source: PMIS

Following risk management practices is a good way to ensure that risks and issues don’t affect your projects negatively.

They will help you mitigate risks and still get to the finish line in time.

9. Inspect Your Results and Deliverables

When you finish your project, the results and deliverables should be as agreed upon in the project plan.

Make sure you compare your results against the established acceptance criteria to see if they fit the specifications.

Prepare the handover and project completion documentation, and schedule the final completion meeting with stakeholders.

10. What Have You Learned?

Finally, project completion is the perfect time to reflect on the lessons you and your team have learned throughout the project.

Your past behavior and PM tool analytics can become a well of valuable insights.

You can use the data to understand your obstacles, and improve your performance in the long term .

You can even prepare evaluation surveys for your team and/or other stakeholders.

Feedback will help you improve in the long term.

Yes, client satisfaction matters.

But as a project manager, you have to keep performance improvement in your mind, as well.

And for that, you’ll need to consider everyone’s perspective.

It’ll help you consistently produce excellent results.

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Free Project Checklist Templates

By Kate Eby | June 8, 2022

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We’ve compiled a collection of the most helpful free, downloadable project checklist templates for project managers and project leads. 

Included on this page, you’ll find a project kickoff checklist template , a project management checklist template , a construction project checklist template , and a project implementation checklist template . Plus, find helpful tips on using a project checklist template .

Project Checklist Template

Project Checklist Template

Download Project Checklist Template Microsoft Excel | Microsoft Word | Smartsheet  

List and assign project tasks, determine their priority, and note due dates with this project checklist template. Add or remove task lines depending on the scope of your project. Use the status column to indicate when a task is complete. This comprehensive template is an excellent tool for visualizing the progress of your project, holding team members accountable, and moving the project forward efficiently.

For additional resources, check out this list of free task lists and checklists templates .

Project Closeout Checklist Template

Project Closeout Checklist Template

Download Project Closeout Checklist Template  Microsoft Excel | Microsoft Word   | Adobe PDF | Smartsheet  

This simple project closeout checklist template helps you track all the necessary steps in closing a project of any size. Reference the sample text under the activity column to determine which steps you should document. Customize the text to suit the particular needs of your project. The color-coded yes-no column helps you easily see if each activity is complete. Know that your project has been successfully closed out when all of the status boxes are green. 

To learn about the importance of project closeouts, check out this guide to project closures .

Project Kickoff Checklist Template

Project Kickoff Checklist Template

Download Project Kickoff Checklist Template  Microsoft Word | Google Docs  

Use this sample kickoff checklist template to guarantee that you have everything you need for a successful project launch. This template prepares your team for the lifecycle of the project and keeps everyone on track. Customize the activity column with the necessary deliverables, and use the check box column to show when an activity has been completed. Share this template in Google Docs so that your team can easily access the information.

For additional resources and to learn what to include in a project kickoff meeting, check out this essential project kickoff guide .

Project Management Checklist Template

Project Management Checklist Template

Download Project Management Checklist Template  Microsoft Excel | Smartsheet  

Every successful project needs a detailed checklist in order to guarantee that deliverables are being met and the team is on schedule. This project management template provides all the pre-filled cells you need to track the overall health of your project. It includes a color-coded status column, sections to list tasks and their descriptions, and budget columns so that you never lose sight of your project finances.

Construction Project Checklist Template

Construction Project Checklist Template

Download Construction Project Checklist Template  Microsoft Excel | Smartsheet  

Before initiating a construction project, it’s important to document every anticipated step of the process. By using this construction project checklist template, you will ensure that your team is organized, you account for all tasks, and the project stays on course. Fill in information, such as specific drawings, contract documentation, building permits and equipment lists, before the project begins. Depending on the length of your project, you can continue to track information on a weekly, monthly, or yearly basis.

Project Planning Checklist Template

Project Planning Checklist Template

Download Project Planning Checklist Template  Microsoft Excel | Microsoft Word  

List tasks, track start and end dates, and audit at-risk tasks with this easy-to-use project planning checklist template. This is the perfect tool for tracking and managing projects across customizable timelines. Share the document with your team in Microsoft Excel so that they can update their task statuses and obtain a quick, visual overview of which tasks are complete, in progress, or overdue.  

For additional resources and templates, check out this collection of free project plan templates .

Project Implementation Checklist Template

Project Implementation Checklist Template

Download Project Implementation Checklist Template Microsoft Excel | Microsoft Word  

Track the details of any project with this project implementation checklist template. This dynamic template allows you to enter the status of tasks, their priorities, and who they are assigned to. It also includes budget columns to track fixed costs, estimated hours, and actual hours. Use this template to ensure that you never lose sight of your project’s progress and finances.

What Is a Project Checklist Template?

A project checklist template is a concise list of the tasks needed to complete a project. It includes the tasks required, due dates, task statuses, and more. Project checklist templates are essential to tracking and managing a project’s progress. 

If you are a project manager or project lead, it is imperative that you track every step of your project. Doing so will ensure that you do account for important steps, keep items organized, and produce outcomes that are consistent with the project plan. A project checklist template tracks the lifecycle of your project while providing an intuitive visual representation of the project’s status.

A project checklist template typically includes the following information: 

  • Activity or Task: List each piece of work required to successfully complete the project. 
  • Deliverable: Describe the outcome of an individual task.  
  • Due Date or Deadline: Assign the due date for each task to keep the project on schedule.  
  • Fixed Cost: Calculate the set monetary amount of the project.
  • Owner or Assigned To: Designate a specific individual or team to complete each task.
  • Priority: Indicates the urgency of a task.
  • Project Manager: Identify the individual who plans, manages, and executes the project. 
  • Status: Mark each activity or task as started, in progress, complete, or overdue.

Manage Your Projects with Ease and Confidence Using Smartsheet

From simple task management and project planning to complex resource and portfolio management, Smartsheet helps you improve collaboration and increase work velocity -- empowering you to get more done. 

The Smartsheet platform makes it easy to plan, capture, manage, and report on work from anywhere, helping your team be more effective and get more done. Report on key metrics and get real-time visibility into work as it happens with roll-up reports, dashboards, and automated workflows built to keep your team connected and informed.

When teams have clarity into the work getting done, there’s no telling how much more they can accomplish in the same amount of time. Try Smartsheet for free, today.

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    Activity or Task: List each piece of work required to successfully complete the project. Deliverable: Describe the outcome of an individual task. Due Date or Deadline: Assign the due date for each task to keep the project on schedule. Fixed Cost: Calculate the set monetary amount of the project.