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Excel for Builders

Updated: Sep 21, 2022

I have tested hundreds of applications for planning and scheduling in construction. What strikes me is that all of them are trying to read our mind about how we run our business, make assumptions about how we operate, and make generalizations about the dynamics involving the people we employ. Most of them are in love with their application, not us.

Recently I took a Toyota or TPS approach to making long term decisions for scheduling applications in construction. I applied the advice to, "only use proven technologies," and, "make decisions as a group slowly and implement fast" to the question of what applications I could recommend for construction scheduling. Here is what I found...

Only two softwares come to mind when I think of what I can promote when it comes to planning and scheduling (especially in a Takt system) for construction. At the top of the list is Excel. The second is which we will discuss later on this blog. If Microsoft is doing 1 thing right it is Excel. Many builders achieve a high level of success because they have learned and utilized Excel for their work. I have had the privilege of training and teaching many people like this, and most are further down their career path than those who have not chosen to learn Excel. To give you the same gift, I have chosen to write this blog post where I highlight my favorite tools in Excel and how you can build any schedule with it.

The image above is a great reference included to help kick start you on an amazing Excel journey. Before you Excel experts click away I have one final offer:

We have a world class training that can teach anyone in construction to use Excel to manage any size of project. You will learn to stabilize your project and give yourself back the time you needed to optimize your operations. Sign up today and come join the builders who have found their work life balance.

Click this link to learn more about this training:

Additionally, we recently published a best tips for builders when starting to learn Excel:

Here are some of the best tips we have for any Builder wanting to sharpen their skillsets:

Formatting - We will start by showcasing formatting tips to make your content visually appealing and understandable. Please experiment with these on your computer.

Formatting Tips

Fonts & Sizes


Cell Color Fill

Font Color

Bold, italics, Underline


Format Cell Alignment

PRO TIP - Format Paint


HOT KEYS - If you want to go fast in Excel, use Hot keys. There are a few that you need to learn to be proficient. I set my left hand by the keyboard ready to use any of the commands below at a moments notice. Here are my favorites:

Hot Keys Tips

Copy - Ctrl + c

Paste - Ctrl + v

Undo - Ctrl + z

Cut - Ctrl + x

Select All - Ctrl + a

Save - Ctrl + s

Find - Ctrl + f

F7 - Spell Check

For more hot keys go here:


Move by Highlight - When you need to move something, simply highlight it and move it with your cursor. (beware of merged cells).


Special Paste - Excel has added more paste options so keep testing them out and see what they do. Here are my new favorites:

Special Paste List



No Boarders

Keep Source Formatting


Values and Source Format

Paste Picture

Paste Link

PRO TIP - Transpose (this takes things that are horizontal and pastes them vertical or Vice a versa.


Sum, Count, Average by Highlighting - This will save you a lot of time. At the bottom of your screen you will see the list showing these sums when you highlight a group of cells. This will save you time in needing to create formulas.


Creating a List - Ever see people make a drop down of things to pick from? Jealous? Don't be, just do this:

Step 1 create a list:

Select the Data Tab in the Ribbon and then Data Validation:

Make Sure the Allow has selected (List), and then select the list you just created by clicking this source button:

You just did it, you are now in the cool club:

There are a lot more things to learn, but you can start here and keep learning. Soon enough you will be addicted to Excel and able to complete to use it for your scheduling tasks. If you liked this please drop us a line or a comment.

If you want to learn more we have:

  1. Takt Fundamentals Training:

  2. A great podcast called "The Elevate Construction Podcast with Jason Schroeder"

  3. The leanTakt YouTube Channel dedicated to showcasing how to do takt and sharing.

  4. The leanTakt Website with tons more resources and content

  5. The Takt Book "Takt Planning and Integrated Control" by Jason and Spencer

  6. Builder, Foreman, and Field Engineer Bootcamps " Upcoming Events"

  7. Further light and knowledge from our Expert counterparts in Germany

If you need help with anything you can always reach out to Jason Schroeder.

On we go!

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