PM Software vs PM Templates – Which Tool is Better?

Are project management templates a better tool than project management software or can they complement one another? Jennifer Bridges, PMP, explains.

Here’s a shot of the whiteboard for your reference!

templates or project management software

In Review: Project Management Software vs Project Management Templates

In this video, Jennifer began by defining the differences between project management templates and Project Management software, essentially noting that templates are mainly downloaded offline whereas the PM software is primarily online.

Templates have been used by project managers over time to help them save time and not replicate work when writing standard project documents or tracking project data.

She explained what the typical formats of project management templates were, from Excel spreadsheets to Word documents, and how they were useful to help with project tracking, reporting, business agreements, product requirements, among other uses.

Pro-Tip: These free Excel and Word Templates can help with every phase of your project. But they’re even more powerful when integrated into an online project management tool.

Some project management tools also support project planning templates or let managers save plans they’ve created as templates so they don’t have to recreate similar plans.

PM Software vs PM Templates

Off-line, downloadable templates are great in that they’re easily documented, repeatable and consistent, but they’re disconnected from the online project and the rest of the team. So you either have to repeat work twice or

PM Software Pros & Cons

  • Plan & Track Online
  • Collaborate with Team
  • Update plans automatically
  • Get email alerts
  • Create plans as templates in the PM Software

PM Templates Pros & Cons

  • Easy to download
  • Templates don’t require internet access
  • Import easily into PM Software
  • Not easily shared
  • Data not real-time

Pro Tip: The type of project tool that you need may depend on the type of project that you are leading. For example, you may need construction management software or a marketing tool to get the specific features you need for your project.

Take it Further: If you’re spending more than an hour updating your templates, import them to PM Software and manage them online.

While software is more robust and efficient than templates, Jennifer acknowledged that both serve their purpose and are even better together than separately.

When should you import templates into PM software?

There are many benefits to importing templates into the project management software:

  • To replicate a project structure
  • To import a tasklist
  • To collaborate on ideas
  • To validate the status
  • To duplicate data

When should you use a template?

There are some use cases to keep using Excel templates.

  • To calculate financial scenarios
  • To use macros

Note: You don’t need Excel for pivot tables, because many online project management tools have real-time dashboards that automatically update your project data.

See how an online project management tool like can enhance the usefulness of your PM templates.

Thanks for watching!


Today, we’re talking about project management software versus project management templates. So, some of the common questions we get today are, if I’m using project management templates, why would I use the software?

And then, some people wanna know if I’m using the software, why would I need templates? So, I wanna take a few minutes today to clarify each and why you would want to use both.

So first of all, let’s talk about the software. So, the project management software these days really means, if you have access to the Internet and a project management software tool you’re using, then that’s online, not only for you as a project manager, but your team members too.

Offline means, using your own computer, your laptop, your device that you access independently alone. And we talked about templates like Excel spreadsheets. And Excel spreadsheets are great at calculating data, think about numbers and your budget, it’s also great for tracking that as well, and reporting.

We also think about Word documents when we think about templates, and they’re great for documenting things for your project, like your agreements, or your training guides, or even the requirements for your project.

So, the benefits of using the templates are that it helps you, already have it documented, it’s now repeatable and it’s consistent not only in that project, but across all of your projects.

So now let’s take a look at some of the other questions. So, if we’re using the templates, when would we want to import them into the software?

So, if you have projects that you manage that are the same, for instance, if you manage software projects that are similar in nature, or maybe construction projects or engineering projects, then if they’re structured the same, you can replicate that quickly by importing that template into the software.

You can also import things like your task list, if you want to import data in that you can collaborate so that you can get more ideas, you would wanna do that. You also want to import the template in when you want to validate the status.

So, if you import it into your online software, then other people can look at that more easily and they can give you input on things that may need to be added or even changed. And it also allows you to duplicate data. So, if you have data from… that you need to import in, it’s just so much easier.

So, when do you want to use a template offline? So, a great example of this is, if you’re using an Excel spreadsheet to calculate financial scenarios.

Because for some different projects you wanna look at different scenarios in which might be the same as your project changes, maybe certain variables, so that’s much easier to manipulate in an Excel spreadsheet using things like macros and pivot tables.

So, the last one is, what are some other factors to consider when we’re talking about templates and software? So, templates, for sure, save time, but we also know that software can save you even more time.

So, you as a project manager, that’s always very important. The second one is, software is so simple and easy now that it just makes your life as a project manager that much easier.

So, if you find yourself spending more than an hour on spreadsheets, then that’s an excellent time to use a template and then import that into your software.

So, if you’re looking to import your templates online, then sign up for our software now at

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