No matter how big or small, every project benefits from having a template. A project plan template helps your projects run smoothly from start to finish. From tasks to dependencies, the initial project setup process is time-consuming. Once you’ve managed a successful project, why recreate the wheel when a similar one comes along? A template makes it easy to replicate success again and again without having to start from scratch.

So what should that template look like? Is it enough to simply have a checklist in tools like Word or Excel? If all your project information is in those tools, where should members collaborate and communicate? How do I write a project plan? Where do assets live? In email threads? Yikes.

Whether you’ve built a thousand project plans or this is your first, using templates in a collaborative resource planning tool will uplevel you into a project management pro. Here at Wrike, we want to empower you to build a project plan template that follows industry best practices. While we’ve pre-built sample project plan templates for you in Wrike, here’s a step-by-step guide on how to create a project management plan and use a professional project template — regardless of what solution you’re using.

Try Wrike’s templates

What is a project plan template?

In order to understand what a project plan template is, you first need clarity about what a project plan is. And to get that, you need to know what a project itself is. 

So what is a project in project management? A project is a series of tasks that need to be completed to reach a specific outcome — whether that’s achieving a goal, producing a deliverable, or whatever other result you’re aiming for.

Your project plan is the roadmap you use to get there. It details all of the information — tasks, timelines, team members, stakeholders, deliverables, budget, and more — you need to know to execute the project and get it across the finish line.

That finally brings us to defining a project plan template. Your project plan template is a starting point for your project plan. While the plan itself will be as unique as your project, your template gives you a structure you can use, so you include all of the important details and don’t have to start from scratch. 

Benefits of using project plan templates

Starting with a template project plan offers a number of advantages for project managers and project teams, including:

Save time

The most obvious benefit of a template is that you can cut a little bit of time out of your project planning process since you have an existing framework to start from. You don’t need to spend time (or energy) thinking about what you need to include and the best way to organize that information. 

Avoid skipping steps

There’s a lot that goes into successfully planning a project, and that means it’s easy to forget some things. Your project plan template is almost like an outline for your project. It includes sections for all of the need-to-know details of your project so you can work through those during the planning stages and ensure you don’t miss anything crucial. 

Ensure consistency

Starting from a template ensures that your project plans all fit a certain mold, even if the projects themselves are different. Team members don’t have to spend time searching for the information they need. Whether they’re looking for a specific budget figure or their team’s timeline, they know right where to find it on the project plan — because it’s in the same place every time. 

Reduce overwhelm

Planning a project can be stressful. And while a project plan template won’t actually do all of the hard work for you, it certainly makes those beginning stages feel a lot more manageable. You can follow the sections of the template to hash out your plan, rather than feeling intimidated by a blank page. 

Repeat success

What’s better than a project that goes off without a hitch? More projects that do so. Your project plan template will help you refine a system and structure that works best for your project plans so you can repeat those wins over and over again. 

Top project plan templates

You’re sold on the benefits of a project plan. The natural next question is: Where can you find one? 

Rest assured that you can create your own customized project plan template directly in Wrike (and we’ll walk through the steps to do so in the next section).

But if you’re looking for an existing template you can copy and start using right away, we’ve created three different types of free project plan templates for you in Wrike so you can jump right in, roll up your sleeves, and get cracking on your projects — all while benefiting from a more efficient workload management process.

1. Professional Services Management

professional services management template

How to use it:

With professional services, you need to be able to provide visibility to the client. Bring structure and organization to each phase of the project: initiation, planning, delivery, project closeout.

You can:

  • Break projects down into tasks and assign them to both team and clients
  • Plan projects, track performance, and set check-in milestones with Gantt charts
  • Track and report on billable hours using the timelog
  • Use dashboards to track progress and measure results

Template includes:

1 project, 4 folders, 4 sample tasks, 1 dashboard

2. Event Planning Template

event planning template

How to use it:

Wrike makes it easier than ever to plan successful events. Move beyond a simple checklist or Excel project management templates, and keep track of all your tasks, assets, collaboration, and your timeline in Wrike.

You can:

  • Break down the event tasks and assign them to the right team members
  • Review the event planning progress using dashboards
  • Keep all the logistics, creative, and follow-up efforts in one place

Template includes:

1 project, 5 folders, 10 sample tasks, 1 dashboard

3. Product Launch

product launch template

How to use it:

Product launches are complex, requiring multiple phases and collaboration across teams. With all your information in one place, Wrike keeps teams aligned in a common process, and ensures everyone is on track with a timeline.

You can:

  • Use this project plan template for pre-launch, launch, and post-launch using folders for each stage.
  • Break your product launch down into tasks, then prioritize and assign them across teams.
  • Track project plan progress using the Board view and review the progress of each area using a Dashboard.

Template includes:

1 project, 3 folders, 19 sample tasks, 1 dashboard

Try Wrike’s templates

How to build a project plan template in Wrike

Maybe none of the above existing templates are the right fit for your team and your project — you need something more custom.

In Wrike, you can create your own templates that you can copy and use again and again. Even better? It only takes a few steps. Here’s how to create a project management plan template in Wrike for yourself.

Step 1: Create a project folder

This is where you’ll house all of the projects that are similar, so each one is documented in a central location. For example, if you have a series of similar events, like tradeshows, and want to keep them together, they can all live in one folder. You can even make a folder to house all your awesome templates!

create a folder

Step 2: Create a project

Title the project so that team members easily understand what they’re working on. For this example, we're going to name our template “Project” — so creative, we know. When you create a project template, you define the general workflow so that it’s copied over for every project. This helps you track progress the same way each time and continue to optimize your template.

create a project

Step 3: List tasks and due dates

Next, list out the tasks required every time you do this project. Assign due dates and milestones to help you visualize how many days or weeks the project will take. For example, if it generally takes three days to write an eBook, set the task to last three days. When you copy the template over, simply adjust to match the actual date you want the task done.

You can also start adding dependencies between tasks and subtasks. Dependencies indicate when a task should begin or end in relation to other tasks. For example, if you’re making an eBook, you need to complete the copy before design can start. In Wrike, when you reschedule a task with dependencies, all dependent tasks are automatically rescheduled — saving you time and keeping you agile.

create a task

Step 4: Add subtask details

If the task calls for it, break it out into subtasks to help you more accurately schedule the timeline. Think of these as milestones within a task. Make sure each subtask has a time frame and a clear description of what’s involved every time the template is used. For example, if you’re creating an eBook and you need to do some promotional banners, it makes sense to add a subtask that states the character count and image size you’ll need every time.

create a subtask

How to use your project plan templates

You’ve created your own project plan template, now how do you actually use it? You don’t want to simply fill in the template — that means you’ll lose the blank template and will need to delete (and lose) your project-specific details every time you want to use it.

Templates are meant to be copied and adapted, while keeping the original intact. Fortunately, making that happen is easy in Wrike. Here’s how.

Step 1: Copy over your template and adjust the dates

Now that you’ve built your template, it’s time to use it. Simply duplicate your template, fill in the project specifics, and update the actual dates. Use the Gantt chart view to see how the timeline looks and make sure all the dependencies are aligned.

duplicate template

Step 2: Assign tasks to project team members

When you’re ready to assign team members to the tasks, we recommend only assigning the person who’ll be responsible for task completion to it. In Wrike, the task owner can @mention colleagues as needed in order to collaborate and add assignees as required.


Step 3: Check resource allocation

Now that team members are assigned, use the Resources view to visually understand how team member workload will impact the tasks they’re assigned to. This helps you spot potential roadblocks and adjust due dates in advance to provide some padding.

Resources view

Step 4: Collaborate and provide feedback all within one tool

Even the best-laid project plans experience bottlenecks — especially if your work management tool doesn’t have collaboration capabilities. With Wrike, teams can @mention one another, get approvals on assets, and access project management reports all in one place. Making the effort to keep project communication in Wrike will optimize visibility and help everyone stay on track.


Try Wrike’s templates

Tips for using project plan templates

Using templates for your project plans is pretty straightforward: You find or create the template you need, copy it, customize it, and then use it to organize your project.

It’s simple enough, but there are a few more tips you’ll need to keep in mind to make the most of templates — particularly if you intend to create and use an assortment of them. Here are four other tips for successfully using your project plan templates. 

1. Stay flexible

The first iteration of a template might not be the one you want to stick with long-term. As you use your project planning template, you might think of things you’d like to change — whether it’s adding sections, reordering them, building in more dependencies, or something else.

Your templates are meant to give you a framework, but that doesn’t mean they need to be rigid. Stay open-minded and flexible so you can adjust your templates when you need to. They’re meant to be improved upon as you continue to learn. 

2. Keep templates somewhere safe and accessible

Chances are, you aren’t the only one on your team or within your organization planning and managing projects. And if you want to benefit from the consistency templates offer, you need to ensure that anybody who spearheads projects can access the templates you create.

That’s why it’s important to keep all of your templates somewhere centralized and organized (a folder in Wrike is perfect for this). Name each template something straightforward and intuitive as well (such as “eBook project plan template” or “Feature launch project timeline template”) so other people can readily recognize the template they need for their specific project. 

3. Educate team members

You don’t just need other people to be able to access your project plan templates — you need them to know how to use them (particularly if you’re worried about something happening to the original). 

Commit to providing a little education about why and how to correctly use your various project planning templates. Whether you create a simple video walkthrough, host a training session, or document a standard operating procedure (SOP), equip other people with the knowledge and resources they need to use the templates without extra stress and confusion. 

4. Use dynamic forms

Now that your template is set up for repeatable success, you’re ready to start funneling in more work. The most successful companies have teams who can collaborate cross-functionally. While you may be in charge of the project work plan steps when it comes to your own team’s projects, everyone can relate to the friction that arises when two teams work together. Ease frustration around inbound requests from other teams by implementing dynamic request forms.

Wrike request forms help you sort incoming work, so you can easily balance your team’s workload. Personalize the request forms to gather all the information you’ll need to get the job done upfront. Wrike request forms can also automatically trigger a project template and auto-assign the work based on how the requester fills out the form.

Whether you’re using Wrike templates to build out your next big project or want to build your own request forms, here are 10 request form samples to get you started.

Ready to start building your project plan?

Download any of our project work plan templates and start your free 14-day trial of Wrike today!

These free project plan samples are pre-populated with folders and tasks to help you easily kick-start any project. From funneling project requests into your workload to streamlining approval processes throughout the project, Wrike makes collaborating a breeze. All our Wrike templates also help you measure project progress and impact with interactive Gantt charts, dynamic calendars, and multiple work views. Get started today!

Try Wrike’s templates