Create an effective retroplanning

In a professional world where time is a precious resource. Knowing how to organize and plan projects effectively is crucial. Retroplanning, or reverse planning, is an indispensable tool for project managers and event planners. This article explores in detail how to create effective backplanning. With its advantages, and why it should be a central part of your project management.

What is a backplanning?

Backplanning is a method of planning that starts with the end of a project or event. And goes back to the current starting point. It thus determines the steps necessary to achieve a goal within a specific time frame. This approach ensures that all essential aspects of the project are taken into account. Provides a clear view of each action required up to the closing date.

Why Use a Backschedule?

Clarification of Deadlines

A retroplanning helps to clarify the deadlines for each phase of the project. Ensuring that each task is assigned a specific time for its completion. This is especially useful in complex projects where time is a critical factor.

Identification of the Priorities of the retroplanning

By planning backwards, you can identify priorities and potential risks more effectively. This allows resources and efforts to be readjusted where they are most needed. Often well in advance of deadlines.

Improved Communication

A backplanning of this type of planning provides a clear and understandable overview by all the actors involved. Each team member understands better when their contribution is expected and how it fits into the overall schedule.

Read aslo: Kanban Method 

How to make a Retroplanning?

Step 1: Define the final goal of the backplanning

Start by clearly defining the end goal of the project. What is the desired outcome? What is the end date? These questions will help you structure the rest of the planning.

Step 2: List the main steps for backplanning

Identify and record the key steps needed to achieve the end goal. Think about all the big tasks that need to be done and write them down from the end.

Step 3: Detail Each Step

For each big step, break it down into smaller, more manageable tasks. This includes everything from initial approvals to final implementation phases.

Step 4: Assign Deadlines

Assign a realistic timeline to each task. Taking into account not only the time required to complete it but also the dependencies between tasks.

Step 5: Use Planning Tools

Implement your planning in a project management tool. Tools like Microsoft Project, Trello or Asana can help you visualize and adjust your plan based on needs and contingencies.

What is the difference between planning and backplanning?

For the retroplanning, Planning and backplanning are two methods of time management and project organization. But they differ in their approach to planning and implementing activities.


Planning, or traditional planning, is a method of organizing and structuring activities. Starting at the beginning of the project and moving towards the end. This approach defines the tasks to be carried out in chronological order. Taking into account the logical progression of the project.

  • Progressive Approach: We start from the starting point of the project and plan the steps until completion.
  • Objective: To determine the tasks necessary to achieve a final goal. Establishing a schedule of events and activities that will lead to the desired outcome.
  • Use: Ideal for projects where steps are well defined and linear. And where dependencies between tasks are clear from the start.

Back planning

Reverse planning begins with the end of the project. And progress backwards to determine the activities needed to get there. This method is often used in projects where the end date is fixed and non-negotiable. As in organizing events or projects with strict deadlines.

  • Retrograde Approach: Start with the final goal or delivery date and work backwards to identify critical milestones.
  • Objective: To ensure that all necessary tasks are completed in time to meet a specific deadline.
  • Use: Very useful for projects with firm deadlines or when time management is critical. This makes it possible to clearly see all the required actions before the deadline.


  • Flexibility: The schedule is often more flexible, allowing adjustments along the way. Backplanning, focusing on a fixed end date, may be less flexible but better focus on meeting deadlines.
  • Visualization: Backplanning allows a clearer visualization of dependencies. And the consequences of each task on the end date. While the traditional schedule is excellent for tracking progress towards a goal on a timeline.
  • Stress management: Backplanning can increase stress by focusing on the deadline. But it can also minimize last-minute surprises. By highlighting the prerequisites for project success from the start.

In short, choosing between planning and backplanning depends mainly on the nature of the project. The presence of strict deadlines, and how project managers prefer to visualize and manage the work.

How to do an Excel Backplanning?

Creating an Excel schedule can help you organize and manage deadlines efficiently. But also tasks for your projects. Especially when you have a specific end date and key steps to follow. Here is a step-by-step guide to creating an Excel Backplan:

Define the End Date and Project Objectives

  • Open a new Excel document.
  • At the top of the sheet, note the project end date and clearly define the project objective.

List the tasks of the backschedule

  • Create a list of tasks to complete the project. Place the list in the first column (A), starting with cell A2.
  • Write down each task from the end of the project to the beginning. Each time, “What task needs to be completed before this one?”

Estimate the Duration of Each Task

  • In column B, next to each task. Enter the estimated time to complete each task (for example, in days).

Calculate Start and End Dates for Each Task

  • In column C, indicate the end date of each task. For the last task in the project (located at the top of your list). The end date will be the project end date.
  • Use Excel to calculate the start date of each task. Subtract the duration of the task from its end date. For example, if the end date is in cell C2 and the duration is in B2, you can enter the formula =C2-B2+1 in cell D2 to get the start date.

Use Conditional Formatting to View the Schedule

  • Select the cells containing the start and end dates.
  • Go to the menu «Home» > «Conditional formatting» > «Data bars» to visualize graphically the duration of tasks on a time scale.

Adjust and Optimize

  • Check and adjust start and end dates based on interdependencies and available resources.
  • Make sure that the tasks do not overlap in an unrealistic way. Unless additional resources are available to manage concurrent work.

Review and Finalization

  • Review the schedule with all project stakeholders to ensure that nothing has been forgotten.
  • Make the necessary changes based on feedback and finalize the schedule.
  • Using Excel for your planning. You can easily adjust and update your plan as the project progresses. This helps you stay on track and meet your deadlines.

How to make a free retro-planning?

Creating a free retroplanning is quite possible using tools and resources that do not require any cost. Here are some free methods and tools that you can use to efficiently plan your projects:

Use Excel or Google Sheets

For those who prefer a manual approach without additional software costs, Excel or Google Sheets are excellent options. You can follow the steps I detailed in the previous post to create a Excel backplan, or adapt these instructions for Google Sheets, which offers the added benefit of being accessible online and easily shareable.


Trello is a visual project management tool based on the Kanban system, but you can adapt it to create a backschedule. Create a Trello board with lists representing different periods or stages of your project, and add maps for each task starting at the end of the project. Trello is free in its basic version, which is enough for most backplanning needs.


Asana is another project management tool that offers a free version. Although primarily designed for forward task management, you can create a backschedule by configuring tasks with start and end dates, and then using the calendar view to view and adjust your schedule.

Microsoft Planner

If you have access to Microsoft Office 365, you can use Microsoft Planner at no additional cost. Planner allows you to create plans, organize and assign tasks, and track the progress of each project. Configure your backschedule by adding tasks with specific dates in reverse order, from the end of the project to the beginning.

Use free online templates

Many websites offer free back-planning templates that you can download and use in Excel, Google Sheets, or other compatible software. These templates can help you get started quickly without having to configure your board from the beginning. or Lucidchart

For a more graphical visualization of your planning, tools like (which is free) or the free version of Lucidchart can be used to create Gantt charts or other visual planning formats.

Tips for implementation

  • Clarity and Simplicity: Make sure your planning is clear and simple to understand for everyone on your team.
  • Regular reviews: Update your schedule regularly to reflect progress and adjustments as the project progresses.
  • Communication: Use your feedback as a communication tool to keep all stakeholders informed of deadlines and responsibilities.

With these tools and tips, you can create an effective and free feedback that will help you manage your projects in an organized way and achieve your goals within the expected deadlines.

In conclusion

Back planning is more than just a project management tool; it’s a strategy that encourages better organization, efficient resource allocation, and improved communication within teams. By following the steps outlined above, you can maximize your chances of project success while minimizing time-related stress and contingencies. Adopt back planning to transform your project processes and achieve your goals with precision and efficiency.

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