Don’t get surprised, even a simple spreadsheet can become very effective project management tool, due to it’s extensive computational set.
One can easily put up a plan for a 2-3 weeks project in the spreadsheet, if the project is not that complex, if there are not many dependencies and is to be executed with only a couple of resources. Those who are not so familiar with MS Project like tool can use excel to their benefit and achieve the project management goals.
A simple table like this could also be useful:
|Task Name||Resource Name||Estimated effort||Start Date||End Date||Status|
End Date column can have a formula to calculate the end date automatically base on the effort column. And if you are really keen on using the spreadsheet only, you can append the above column list with other columns like “actual effort”, “actual start date”, “actual end date” and then put your skill to develop formulae to extract tonnes of information from this table.
I personally never to planning in excel as I find this very primitive. And most of the times I have access to MS Project, which does all the above mentioned things and loads of more like a breeze.