Project planning in Outlook: Fundamentals & Software

How to plan a successful project

Projektplanung in Outlook mit der Projektmanagement-Software von InLoox

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Author: Lena Schmidt | Last updated: Tuesday, March 12th, 2024 | Reading time: 10 min.

Project planning is part of the daily work of project managers. But what steps do you need to take to plan a project "well"? And how can Microsoft Outlook help to make project planning clearer for all team members?


Basics of project planning

  1. Project initiation
  2. Process planning
  3. Milestone planning
  4. Task planning
  5. Effort estimation
  6. Resource planning
  7. Risk management
  8. Kick-Off-Meeting
  9. Project planning with software

1. Project initiation

If you can start going into the details of project planning, the project has already passed the initiation phase. Once the project has been initiated, you should have found answers to the following questions:

  • Why is the project being initiated? What is the specific purpose and benefit of the project?
  • Are the benefits in proportion to the assumed costs?
  • What overarching and specific goals does the project serve?
  • What results does the customer/client expect from the project? How are these specified?
  • When can the project be described as successfully completed (measurable success criteria)?
  • What are the strengths and weaknesses, opportunities and risks of the project?
  • What is the current status?

At the end of a successful project initiation, the client should have formulated a statement of work that defines the exact project specifications. A specification sheet is also highly recommended for internal company projects. Only when these questions have been answered, the project planning will have a solid foundation.

2. Process planning

As soon as the overarching goals, the desired results and the time frame of the project have been determined, you can start with the process planning or structural planning, because then you can decide how the project goals are to be achieved.

Gantt-Planung in InLoox Web App

Image 1: Project planning in InLoox

To do this, the project is structured into individual activities, which are then entered in an activity list. Activities are also defined as project phases or thematically related task bundles.

In the next step, these activities should be put into a sequence, depending on the time requirements and the logical dependencies between the activities.

Concrete example: The exhibition at a trade fair starts with the planning, including the concept. Once the trade fair concept has been defined, the basic preparatory work continues, followed by the commissioning of a stand builder, trade fair marketing, [...] and finally the packing list. In this way, all processes and milestones are sorted chronologically and in relation to each other.

Vorgangsliste einer Projektplanung in InLoox

Image 2: Activity list in the Gantt chart in InLoox

Especially for large projects, project planning software provides valuable services here because it provides the necessary overview. In addition to a simple activity list, a visual aid such as a Gantt chart also contributes to greater clarity in the plan.

In order to structure the activities, you can also combine thematically related activities into so-called summary activities.

3. Milestone planning

There should be several milestones in every project plan. These are fixed dates on which defined and measurable interim results are presented. Milestones also structure the project plan into clear stages and sub-projects. Such a milestone can be, for example, the presentation of a prototype to the customer. Failure to reach a milestone on the planned date is an important warning system in a project. 

Construction planning in Gantt chart in InLoox Web App

Image 3: Phase milestone plan in InLoox

4. Task planning

Each activity has one or more work packages, i.e. specific tasks with a pre-estimated workload. Tasks are important for the team because they make the more abstract processes comprehensible and concrete. The duration of a task is determined by the process to which it belongs. The amount of work associated with a task must be estimated by the project planners. For example, if a activity is called recruiting sponsors, then creating a list of potential sponsors can be a task that belongs to this activity.

Kanban board of a construction project in InLoox Web App

Image 4: Task planning and distribution in the Kanban board in InLoox

5. Effort estimation

The time required for each task should now be estimated. Ideally, not only the team member who is to complete the task later or the project manager should estimate, but all team members from the relevant department. Then, task by task, the team members who have given particularly high or low estimates are asked to explain them and in the end (usually) an average value is agreed upon. This is a very time-consuming method, but it ensures a realistic plan from the very beginning that is highly binding for the entire team.

6. Resource planning

As part of resource planning, tasks are assigned to team members. This is where one of the central questions of project planning is decided, namely who does what and by when? Attention should be paid to a fair and equally distributed workload. With InLoox, you can display the resource utilization parallel to the Gantt planning. Changes to the project plan or resource distribution are updated dynamically to ensure realistic planning. This means that the planning remains meaningful even if changes are made to the schedule. If you compare the planned costs for resources and the other planned expenditure for the project with the planned income, a cost or budget plan is created for the project.

Ressourcenauslastung unterhalb Gantt-Planung

Image 5: Resource planning and project planning are linked in InLoox

7. Risk management

Any risks in the project should also be analyzed as part of the planning phase. This is the only way to develop effective strategies for prevention and risk mitigation.

8. Kick-Off-Meeting

The kick-off meeting marks the transition from the project planning to the implementation phase. In the kick-off meeting, the draft project plan should be explained. The roles, responsibilities and competencies of the team members should also be discussed, as well as the scope of work. This is followed by a discussion on how to proceed and how the project team should communicate. You can find a checklist for planning a kick-off meeting here

9. Project planning with software

Even though project planning takes place at the beginning of the project, it is rarely set in stone. Customer specifications change, tasks take longer than planned, team members are absent due to illness - a multitude of unforeseeable changes mean that the plan has to be updated regularly. This makes it difficult for team members to stay up to date. With the help of project planning software, team members always see the latest version of the project plan, can track changes and are notified if there are any changes to their tasks.

Planning projects in Outlook with InLoox

The key to the success of any project is efficient project planning! There are many different products available on the software market for this purpose. While some products offer several functions for project management, others only cover partial areas.

InLoox, on the other hand, is a fully featured management system that not only supports you during the execution of your project planning, but also offers other useful functions to support you in your daily work. Planning the most complex projects, managing project-related documents, creating budgets and calculating costs is no problem. InLoox also makes it easier for you to divide up the work within the company - all employees are always informed about their tasks.

Working with Outlook data in InLoox

Outlook bundles a lot of information in companies that is also relevant for project planning - such as calendar appointments, emails, contacts and tasks. These Outlook elements interact with InLoox - for example, Outlook appointments are taken into account in resource utilization, which in turn ensures a realistic depiction of project planning. With the InLoox Modern Add-in for Outlook, you also benefit from a practical side panel that makes your daily work easier. E-mails can be quickly converted into tasks, and attachments and other documents can be stored centrally.

InLoox for Outlook side panel

Image 6: InLoox for Outlook Modern Add-in

Users of the InLoox cloud editions can download the InLoox for Outlook add-in from the Microsoft Store themselves. Note: In order to use the add-in, you need a valid InLoox 11 (trial) account.

Get InLoox for Outlook Add-in



InLoox extends Microsoft Outlook

A clear user interface makes it easy for you to get started with the program; convenient handling is a priority with InLoox. The program is integrated into Outlook and both programs can be seamlessly linked with each other, eliminating the often annoying and time-consuming synchronization of programs. Start project planning immediately after installation - of course with your important data from Outlook - this is an advantage of the project management tool InLoox. Keep an overview of your projects at all times with InLoox - this way, project management is based on reliable data.

InLoox is used across all industries and is available as a download version for installation on your own hardware (on-Prem) and as a SaaS solution in the cloud. In addition to the intelligent integration of InLoox in Outlook, you can use all project management features comprehensively in the browser-based online project software InLoox Web App.

Wide range of integration options

The software is based on Microsoft technologies and can therefore be combined with other Microsoft 365 products and Microsoft Office. Integrations of InLoox to SharePoint Online, OneDrive, Power BI, Power Automate and others are possible, as well as customized connections via the InLoox API, e.g. to ERP and CRM systems.


InLoox enables flexible project planning directly in Microsoft Outlook - so users no longer have to manage several systems in parallel, but can complete all project planning tasks directly in a familiar user interface.

Project planning with Gantt charts

Gain a graphical overview of the timeline of your projects. With the Gantt chart from InLoox, you can plan projects conveniently. The permanent overview and scheduling of all project elements ensures quick reactions and thus a smooth process. Each project can be divided into individual phases, tasks and milestones can be integrated. You can also display several projects in one project plan, giving you a multi-project view.

Mit InLoox können Sie Projektpläne erstellen oder auch aus bestehenden Plänen duplizieren. Im Anschluss können diese problemlos bearbeitet und angepasst werden. Sie können bestehende Projektpläne aus Microsoft Project importieren und Projektpläne, die Sie mit der Projektplaner-Funktion von InLoox erstellt haben als Bild-Datei exportieren. InLoox hat auch das allseits bekannte Problem des Druckformats gelöst: die Software unterstützt den Ausdruck von Projektplänen - wenn gewünscht sogar im A1-Format.

With InLoox, you can create project plans or even duplicate them from existing plans. These can then be easily edited and adapted. You can also import existing project plans from Microsoft Project and export project plans as an image file. InLoox has also solved the well-known problem of the print format: the software supports the printing of project plans - even in A1 format if desired.

The project planning features of InLoox:

  • Dependencies
  • Constraints
  • Lag between project phases
  • Percentage of work completed
  • Critical path
  • Multi-project view
  • Document linking
  • Notifications

Resource overview and capacity utilization

See at a glance how well utilized team members, rooms or machines are and where capacities are still available. Outlook calendar appointments can also be taken into account. 

Document management

InLoox brings all project-related documents together in one place and provides authorized team members with access to the associated documents from any project.

Project time tracking

With InLoox, you can document all project-related time expenditures without any additional effort. Key data from Outlook can also be transferred, e.g. from tasks or appointments.

Project communication

In many companies, Microsoft Outlook is already the communication center anyway. With InLoox, it also can become the center of your project communication.


Calculate your projects directly in Microsoft Outlook and compare expenses and income on an ongoing basis. You can also create, send and monitor project-related quotations and invoices with InLoox.

You can find a comprehensive overview of the functions of InLoox here.

Integrate Outlook elements into project management

InLoox enables the direct use of Outlook elements for project management. Whether Outlook tasks, calendar appointments, emails or contacts - all information can be used in project planning and controlling without media discontinuity.

Mind Mapping

Initial project ideas and concepts can be visually collected and organized with the help of mind maps. They can then be transferred to the planning schedule with a single click.

Explore the other features of InLoox for Outlook


Application examples

As a proven project management software, InLoox is already used by 20% of DAX companies in Germany. A wide variety of companies and industries worldwide rely on InLoox every day as a simple yet professional solution for successful project management:

  • Banking
  • Construction
  • Consulting and services
  • Electronics and electrical engineering
  • Wholesale and retail trade
  • Information and communication technology
  • Mechanical and plant engineering
  • Media & Publishing
  • Public services / municipal services
  • Transportation / Logistics
  • and many more

The software is quick to install, easy to learn and sets uniform organizational standards in the divisions:

  • Project management / PM software
  • Team collaboration
  • Document management
  • Task management
  • Time tracking
  • Information management

You can find our reference customers from a wide range of sectors and industries in our customer list

Find out how customers from a wide range of industries use InLoox: InLoox use cases

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For whom is InLoox of interest?

  • Outlook®-Users
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  • Project manager
  • Project planner
  • Project controller
  • Project staff
  • Sales/ Marketing
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  • IT / (IT-) Support
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  • (Executive) Management
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