Complete Guide to Gantt Charts

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Checklists in Project Management

Project managers (PMs) are busy people. According to a recent survey, 59% of project managers reported running two to five projects at once, while only 15% of project managers reported running only one project at a time. 

It takes skill to organize and manage one project at once, let alone multiple. One essential component of any PM’s toolkit is a project management checklist. But it’s not just professional project managers who benefit from using a project management checklist. A project management checklist is vital to almost any project’s success, from a home renovation or cross-country move to a product launch or construction project.

What is a Project Management Checklist?

Simply put, a project management checklist is a list of the steps required to successfully navigate a project, including conducting research, forming a team, planning the project, and executing it on time and within budget. 

The main function of a project checklist is to help project managers stay organized by keeping track of individual tasks, requirements, goals, and deadlines. A checklist helps PMs and their teams prepare for tasks ahead of time and streamline the project’s execution.

This Project Checklist Template from allows you to easily create a task list, assign people to individual tasks, set due dates, and update task statuses. 

Project Checklist Template
Project Checklist Template

Benefits of Using a Project Management Checklist

Whether you’re a seasoned project manager or just getting off the ground with your first project, the benefits of using a project management checklist cannot be overstated. First and foremost, project checklists provide a detailed high-level view of each step to help avoid duplication of efforts, keep tabs on all required tasks, and make sure nothing gets overlooked.

 Other benefits of using a project management checklist include:

  • Planning: Use a checklist during the project planning stage to help ensure all of the necessary project elements are included before the project kicks off. 
  • Risk management: A checklist helps you manage some of the risks that can jeopardize the successful execution of a project, such as incomplete work or project steps performed out of order.

Resource identification and allocation: Since fewer than 60% of projects are completed within budget, it’s imperative to manage and allocate resources effectively. A work breakdown structure (WBS) with an accompanying checklist helps project managers identify the resources needed each step of the way and plan accordingly. This Detailed Project Budget with WBS Template from is a great tool to help you identify and allocate resources.

Detailed Project Budget with WBS Template
Detailed Project Budget with WBS Template

Essential Elements of a Good Project Management Checklist

Project checklists will vary from organization to organization and project to project, but all project checklists should:

  • Be as brief and concise as possible while still remaining comprehensive. The project checklist should be easy for the whole team to understand and follow and should include key information like due dates and task leads.
  • Include all the major steps and sub-steps involved. A project management checklist is no good to anyone if steps are missing. If you can’t decide whether to add a seemingly inconsequential task, err on the side of caution and include it. If nothing else, it will be an easy task to mark “complete” when the time comes.
  • Be easy to customize. There’s no need to reinvent the wheel every time you start a new project — start with a generic project checklist template, or repurpose a checklist that has been used in similar projects.
  • Include input from project sponsors and the team working on the project. It’s imperative that those working on the project provide feedback not only on the individual tasks, but also the feasibility of completing those tasks in the specified time period.

Creating a Project Management Checklist

There are a few key steps every project manager should take before creating a project management checklist:

  • Identify the project goals, the problems it will solve, and how you will measure success. Having this information upfront will help you stay grounded when creating the project checklist and help prevent scope creep.
  • Set expectations for reporting and deadlines, assess which team members have the capacity to contribute to which tasks, and begin to identify who will be responsible for what. Add this information to the project checklist. Get to know your stakeholders, and ask for your team’s input on the project checklist. 
  • Review your budget, and set the project schedule. Ensure you have the time and resources to allocate to each step in the project, and include that information on the checklist. This helps the entire team stay accountable for the time and resource constraints on the project.

Once these steps are completed, fill in any missing pieces on the checklist, and finalize your formal project plan. The project checklist will serve as the starting point for project execution and will contain all of the essential information the team needs to stay on task and bring the project across the finish line on schedule and under budget.

The Versatility of Project Checklists

Project checklists are invaluable for planning and executing individual projects, but they can be used for other purposes, too, including product launches and documentation. 

Product Launch

A product launch is a major undertaking that includes many moving parts with cross-departmental teams and stakeholders. Because the stakes are high, a product launch checklist is essential for keeping all of the pieces in one place, and it allows managers to plan for multiple scenarios that might impact the launch.’s Project Launch Plan Template is a checklist template made specifically for hassle-free product launches.

Product Launch Plan Template
Product Launch Plan Template


Project checklists can also be used for documentation processes. Proper documentation of project goals, tasks, schedules, and communication is essential during both the execution of a project and the handoff process upon completion. 

Project checklists contain all the necessary information you need to conduct an after-project evaluation (also known as a post-mortem) and glean new insights and trouble spots for future projects. Since the project management checklist contains all the relevant information about the execution of the project, documented in real time, there’s no need to compile or create separate assets afterwards.

A good project checklist can also serve as documentation for status updates to stakeholders, project sponsors, and team members. Documentation is the most-cited task project managers wish they could skip, and using a comprehensive project management checklist helps reduce that burden.

Project Management Checklists: The Key to Staying On Task, On Time, and On Budget

Project checklists are essential to planning, organizing, and executing a project successfully. Far more than a simple to-do list, these comprehensive checklists keep valuable information readily available for all involved and provide a way to track a project at every stage. has powerful project checklist templates to help you keep projects on budget and running smoothly toward the finish line.

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