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A Risk Matrix is a 2D matrix that calculates the risk score for a given risk. A risk is an uncertain event that will impact the project. Project managers try to mitigate negative risks, or threats, and enhance positive risks, or opportunities.
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The risk matrix is an important tool for the project team because it helps establish common definitions for risk severity and probability.
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The Risk Score of a risk is severity times probability. This is the formula used during the Qualitative Risk Analysis process to determine whether a risk is High, Medium, or Low priority. Only the high priority risks will move onto the Quantitative Risk Analysis process, where the project team will assess the amount of contingency reserve that can be set aside.
Risk Score = Severity * Probability
To create your own Risk Matrix as you follow along this guide, download this free excel template.
Components of the Risk Matrix
1. External Risks: Risks from third party vendors, service providers, alliances, external market, political, social, cultural, and environmental factors
2. Technological Risks:Risks arising from instable technology
3. Stakeholder Risks: Lack of support, management failure, organizational structure
4. Regulatory Risks: Noncompliance of rules and regulations, policies
5. Project Execution Risks: Risks arising due to lack of resources, poorly managed project scope, non-commitment of management
6.Legal Risks: Noncompliance of applicable laws, ethical standards
7.Release Risks: Risks arising due to failure in delivery of products and services
8.Reputation Risks: Risks from negative customer experience, feedback, perception to the organization reputation in the market
Provide risk elements associated with specific risk classification
Provide the impact severity from 1 – 5, with 5 being the highest impact and 1 the smallest impact:
1. Little or no impact
2. Minor impact
3. Moderate impact
4. Significantly impacted
5. Highest impact
Note: The risk severity categories can vary depending on your organization. You can consult your PMO or look through lessons learned databases to find examples for risk matrix from previous projects. For example, some projects use ‘Negligible’, ‘Marginal’, ‘Critical’, and ‘Catastrophic’ as their risk severity instead.
Determine the probability the risk will occur. Provide the probability 1 – 5 with 5 being the highest and 1 the smallest probability:
1. <= 10%
2. >= 10%
3. > 25%
4. > 50%
5. > 75%
Again, like the risk severity, the risk probability categories can change depending on your organization’s rules or project circumstances.
Risk score is equal to impact times Probability
Plan risk response based on the risk score. Base plan as Correction Plans, Prevention Plans and Warning Plans.
Person responsible for implementing the response plan
Timeline for implementing the response plan
Meet with your team to establish common definitions for severity and probability levels. Ensure that your project team is aware of and contributing to the Risk Matrix.
Different team members will be responsible for looking after different risks on your project. Without common definitions, one team member may rate a risk as High priority, while another might rate a similar risk as Low priority.
The definitions can be included in the same document as the Risk Matrix or in a separate file.
The last step is to fill in your Risk Scores. For example, a high probability and high severity risk will receive a High priority risk score. A low probability and low severity risk will receive a Low priority risk score.
You and your team need to fill in every cell in the Risk Register. Each cell represents the risk score of the intersecting risk severity and probability.
Here is an example of Risk Matrix:
Problems with the Risk Matrix
Although the Risk Matrix is an important project tool, it does have a few flaws.
Even with risk definitions, risk severity and probability are still both subjective.
Mistakes occur. A low priority risk can be assigned high priority. Hence, more resources will be allocated to this risk than necessary.
Despite its setbacks, the Risk Matrix is still critical in risk management. It is archived at the end of the project. It also helps the project team complete the Risk Register.
To start creating your own Risk Matrix, download this excel template to get started.
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Smartsheet ContributorJoe Weller on May 25, 2016
In this article, you’ll find the most widely-used, comprehensive list of free action plan templates offered in Excel and Word formats.
Included on this page, you’ll find a downloadable business action plan template, project action plan template, corrective action plan template, and more.
Action Plan Template
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This action plan template provides sections for four goals, and more can be added. The goals are then broken down into action steps that can be assigned a priority and completion status for tracking progress. Starting and ending dates can be added for each action, and a column for notes is also included. This template would work well for project management, event planning, business goals and more.
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Action Item Template for Excel
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This free template focuses on action items, which are listed in the first column with additional space provided for detailed descriptions of each item. The timeline for each item is tracked with a starting date, due date and completion date. Other information for each action item includes priority, responsible party and status. This is a simple yet detailed template with extra room included for notes.
Business Action Plan Template for Excel
Download Business Action Plan Template
This action plan template can be used as a supporting tool to reach the goals in a business or marketing plan. The goal is clearly stated at the top of the template followed by action steps below. This template provides sections to record necessary resources, potential challenges and final results. The final result of an action item could simply be a successful completion, or new steps may have been identified in the process. An action plan may have to be adaptive in order to reach business goals.
Project Action Plan Template for Word
Download Project Action Plan Template
Keep your project on schedule and evaluate its progress with this project action plan template. The template breaks down goals into separate sections along with their associated action steps. The timeline, expected outcome, ownership and evaluation methodology can be recorded for each action step. Save the project template as a PDF and print for easy sharing with a team.
Team Action Plan Template for Word
Download Team Action Plan Template
This team action plan template includes spaces for listing team members and tracking attendance at more than one planning session. The template includes the basic ingredients for creating a successful action plan, and a simple layout facilitates group process. Having a clear goal and objective stated at the top will help team members stay focused as they work together to create a plan of action.
Work Action Plan Template for Word
This is a detailed work plan template to help ensure success in your improvement efforts. The steps of the work plan are clearly outlined along with important data. What resources are available or needed? Where are there points of resistance that need to be dealt with? What is your communications plan for each step? Including all of these factors in your action plan will help implementation go smoothly.
Corrective Action Plan Template for Word
A corrective action plan aims to solve a specific problem or change a situation so that goals can be met. This corrective action plan template provides a simple layout with plenty of room for detail. Both the problem and desired outcome can be defined at the top, and the action plan includes important information such as stakeholders, constraints and metrics. This template can be easily adapted to a wide range of corrective plans.
Employee Action Plan Template for Word
This template works well for an employee improvement action plan. Sections are provided for listing supervisors and support team members. The template is also formatted with multiple steps, so actions can be broken down into a very manageable sequence. This provides an organized way for employees to work toward specific achievements.
Sales Action Plan Template for Word
This sales plan template includes room for reviewing current and previous revenue, market and competitor analysis, sales goals, and a plan of action. Having all of this information in one template can help ensure you are addressing the right issues and setting achievable sales goals. The template can of course be edited to include whatever information is pertinent to your business.
School Action Plan Template for Word
This action plan template was designed with school improvement in mind. It allows you to state a long-term goal, outline different approaches to reaching that goal, and create an action plan based on your chosen strategy. You can identify the budget, materials and time needed for each action step as well as the timeline for its completion and evidence of success. Tracking the success of each action step will help ensure that your school improvement efforts lead to your long-term goals.
Creating an Effective Action Plan
System Test Plan Template Excel
One of the benefits of using an action plan template is that the formatting is taken care of - you can simply edit the template to suit your needs. As you will see in the free templates listed above, multiple layouts are possible for an action plan. But regardless of the structure or content of your plan, here are some tips to keep in mind as you begin the planning process.
- Choose an appropriate goal and clearly define your objective. Take into consideration not only the importance of your goal, but also how reachable it is considering the time frame and resources you have to work with.
- Use a team to create your action plan. This won’t be appropriate in certain cases, but brainstorming with team members can help create a stronger plan of action. And in the course of creating a plan, you may find that you need input from others outside the team as well.
- Choose action steps that are concrete, measurable and attainable. These steps should be clearly defined, not vague ideas.
- Identify who is responsible for each action step and who will be supporting them. Support people are not responsible for the outcome of an action step, but they assist in the process.
- Provide a clear schedule for completing action steps. Your final goal may be a short-term project or take years to complete. It’s important to break down the timeline for each step along the way.List the resources necessary for accomplishing action steps. If sufficient resources are not currently available, include a plan for their acquisition.
- Review and update your action plan as it is implemented. As you track the progress of your plan, make any changes needed as they arise.
- Communicate with key people about the plan’s progress and effects as it is carried out.
All of the templates above are printable, customizable and free to download. They are designed for Microsoft Excel or Word and can be saved in PDF format. Choose the template that best meets your needs and begin creating your action plan.
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