Project Management Tools vs. Spreadsheet, Which is Best for You?

16 Jun, 2023 | Read in 6 minutes

Explore the pros and cons of project management tools and spreadsheets to determine which approach suits your needs.


Spreadsheets have been a popular tool that has its own special place in the business world. But with the advancement of technology, project management tools have emerged as a powerful alternative.

You can use spreadsheets to display and customise information. 

But, if you're handling projects with lots of team members, tight deadlines, and a need to coordinate everyone no matter where they are, then it's time to check out project management software.

Project management software is designed to help you run your projects. You can schedule tasks in priority order, and the best part is that you can easily adjust those priorities whenever the project's needs change. 

Let’s explore the key differences between project management software and spreadsheets, highlighting their strengths and weaknesses.

The Benefits of Spreadsheets

1. Familiarity and Accessibility

Spreadsheets are widely used by many individuals. People are easily accessible and adaptable to project management. 

Most people have basic knowledge of spreadsheet software, such as Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets, which reduces the learning curve and allows for quick adoption.

2. Customisation

One of the notable strengths of spreadsheets is their customisation options. 

Users can create customised templates and formats to suit their specific project requirements. 

From simple to complex calculations, conditional formatting, and data manipulation, spreadsheets offer a high degree of customization to meet individual needs.

3. Cost-Effective Solution

Spreadsheets are often readily available on most computers or can be accessed online for free. 

So, if you are in a small team with limited budgets, it is a cost-effective solution.

Spreadsheets eliminate the need for additional software purchases, it is an affordable choice for managing projects.

4. Versatility in Data Analysis

Spreadsheets excel in data analysis capabilities. They provide powerful mathematical and statistical functions. 

So users can analyse project data, generate charts, and perform calculations. 

With formulas and functions, users can derive insights, make informed decisions, and visualise project performance.

5. Simple Task Tracking and Documentation

Spreadsheets allow for straightforward task tracking and documentation. Users can create columns and rows to record tasks, deadlines, progress, and assigned team members. This provides a structured overview of the project, allowing stakeholders to track milestones and monitor progress at a glance.

6. Offline Access 

Unlike some project management software that relies on an internet connection, spreadsheets offer offline access. 

Users can work on their projects without internet connectivity, which can be beneficial in remote locations or areas with unreliable internet access. 

Spreadsheets can also be easily shared and transported across different devices.

The Limitations of Spreadsheets

While spreadsheets offer some basic project management functionalities, they have several inherent limitations. 

  • Spreadsheets are primarily designed for data analysis and lack the comprehensive features necessary for managing complex projects. 
  • Spreadsheets often lack the ability to handle dependencies, allocate resources, or track progress effectively. 
  • Spreadsheets can become error-prone when managing large datasets or dealing with multiple stakeholders.
  • It is typically operated as standalone files, which can lead to challenges in centralised data management.
  • Limited collaboration features.
  • As projects grow in complexity and scale, spreadsheets may struggle to handle the increasing volume of data and tasks.
  • Limited integration with external tools.
  • In spreadsheets, data updates and changes typically require manual input from users.

The Benefits of Project Management Tools

1. Enhanced Collaboration and Communication

Project management software enables smooth teamwork by promoting collaboration among team members.

Further, you can share the documents and updates. So the stakeholders are able to stay informed and work together effectively. This encourages a more collaborative and productive work environment.

2. Efficient Task Management 

Project management software offers advanced task management capabilities, so your teams can create, assign, and track tasks effortlessly. 

It enables the creation of task dependencies. Not only that, you can set the priority, and task scheduling.

You can ensure a streamlined workflow and efficient utilisation of resources.

3. Real-Time Progress Tracking

With project management software, your teams can track project progress in real-time. 

It includes monitoring task completion, identifying bottlenecks, and adjusting schedules accordingly. 

The software also generates detailed reports and visualisations, providing insights into project performance and enabling timely decision-making.

4. Resource Optimisation

Project management software enables effective resource allocation and optimization. 

It allows teams to assign resources based on availability, skill set, and workload, ensuring that each team member is appropriately utilised. 

Further, it helps prevent resource conflicts and maximises productivity.

5. Integration Capabilities

Project management software integrates with other essential tools and systems, such as communication platforms, Google Drive, or even time-tracking software. 

The seamless integration streamlines workflows. So it eliminates duplicate data entry and saves time and effort.

6. Security and Data Protection

Project management software ensures the security and protection of sensitive project data. It offers robust user access controls, reducing the risk of data loss or unauthorised access. 

Further, the project management tool provides peace of mind and compliance with data protection regulations.

7. Cost Considerations

With a range of pricing options, the cost of project management software varies depending on the features. 

Some software solutions offer subscription-based models with monthly or annual fees, while others may have one-time licensing costs.

It's important to consider the overall value and return on investment when evaluating the cost of project management software.

While spreadsheets may seem cost-effective initially, they often lack the comprehensive features provided by dedicated software.

The Limitations of Project Management Tool

  • Project management tools often come with a learning curve, especially for users who are not familiar with the specific software.
  • Implementing project management tools may incur costs, especially for a premium or enterprise-level solutions.
  • Customisation options may be limited, and certain specific needs may not be easily accommodated within the tool's framework.
  • Compatibility and integration challenges.

Choosing the Right Solution

When choosing between project management software and spreadsheets, it's essential to evaluate your specific project requirements and organisational needs. Consider the following factors:

  • The complexity of Projects: If your projects involve multiple tasks, dependencies, and stakeholders, project management software is likely to be a better choice.
  • Collaboration Needs: If effective collaboration and communication among team members are crucial, project management software provides the necessary tools and features.
  • Scalability: If your organisation plans to undertake larger or more complex projects in the future, project management software offers scalability and adaptability.
  • Integration Requirements: If you need seamless integration with other tools and systems, such as communication platforms or time-tracking software, project management software provides the necessary integrations.
  • Resource Management: If efficient resource allocation and optimization are critical for your projects, project management software offers advanced resource management capabilities.
  • Data Security: If you handle sensitive project data and need robust security measures, project management software ensures the protection of your information.
  • Budget: Consider the cost implications and compare the features and functionalities offered by different software solutions to find the one that fits your budget and requirements.

Project Management Tools Using VirtualSpace

Project management plays a crucial part in ensuring the successful project implementation. Whether you opt for spreadsheets or project management tools, it's essential to choose the right approach based on your specific needs.

Spreadsheets offer a familiarity that makes them suitable for smaller projects or individuals on a limited budget. They excel in simple task tracking, data analysis, and offline access. 

On the other hand, you can thrive a project management tool using VirtualSpace. It provides advanced features that are suitable for your needs. 

Ready to grow your business with VirtualSpace?

One platform to manage and organise your teams, tasks, projects, and more.


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