Smartsheet vs. Excel: The Ultimate Showdown Popular Big Spreadsheets

Smartsheet vs. Excel: The Ultimate Showdown Popular Big Spreadsheets

By Anna Benzaquen
Published: 8/1/23

Project management and data manipulation are the dynamic duo driving business success. In their respective genres, Smartsheet and Excel are two of the best. But if you had to choose only one? Which tool best bridges the gap between project management and data manipulation?

It's time for the ultimate showdown: Smartsheet vs. Excel. Let's get going!!

Unrolling Smartsheet: The Project Management and Team Collaboration Champion

Smartsheet is a comprehensive cloud-based project management and collaboration tool. Teams can manage and track projects, tasks, and deadlines with Smartsheet's platform in real time. And Smartsheet offers a deep bench of prime features, like Gantt charts, calendar views, and reporting tools.

Excel Unveiled: The Undisputed Data Manipulation Champion

Excel is the industry-leasing spreadsheet software developed by Microsoft. It has been the standard for storing, organizing, and analyzing data for decades.

Microsoft practically wrote the book for formulas, charts, and pivot tables. And Excel has been the primary tool, to date, for companies extracting insights from data.

Smartsheet and Excel: Meeting Points in Productivity

Since Smartsheet and Excel are both productivity tools for managing and analyzing data, they are somewhat similar.

Here's what they have in common:

  1. Spreadsheets. Both Smartsheet and Excel are spreadsheet-based platforms.
  2. Sorting and Filtering. Both products allow the sorting and filtering of data to analyze and summarize large datasets.
  3. Charting. Each platform provides built-in charting tools to visualize data and insights.

Distinguishing Smartsheet from Excel: Key Differences Explained

Despite their similarities, there are significant differences in their core features and use cases.

These key contrasts include:

  1. Core Functionality. Smartsheet is a project management and collaboration tool. Excel is a spreadsheet application used for numerical analysis and data manipulation.
  2. Structured vs. Unstructured Data. Smartsheet's design is for structured data, such as tasks, deadlines, and file attachments. Excel is better suited for handling unstructured data, such as numbers, text, and formulas.
  3. Automation and Integration. Smartsheet has a larger library of automation and integration options than Excel.

Smartsheet vs. Excel: Battle of Features and Functionalities


Here are critical features for some of Smartsheet's principle functionalities:

Real-time Collaboration

  • Smartsheet powers team collaboration. The software allows for simultaneous editing of the same sheet, live commenting and feedback, and real-time communication within the app.

Project Management

  • Smartsheet provides robust project and task management, allowing users to create, assign, and track tasks with due dates, reminders, and status updates. The platform's interactive Gantt charts visualize task dependencies and timelines. And resource allocation is optimized by assigning and updating resources and tracking usage across the entire project.
  • Project calendars enable easy scheduling and budgeting tools to track expenses for accurate forecasting. Custom reports and dashboards offer valuable insights into project data, enhancing decision-making.

Automated Workflows

  • Smartsheet streamlines operations through automated workflows featuring customizable processes, automated task assignments, and escalations. Users benefit from automatic notifications and emails to stay updated on project statuses.

    The platform's configurable approval stages, thresholds, and trigger events and conditions ensure seamless approval processes.

    • Requests are auto-routed and escalated, while customizable approval forms, fields, and electronic signatures enhance efficiency and provide proof of delivery.


Here are key features for several of Excel's core functionalities:


  • Excel boasts over 300 built-in financial, statistical, and logical functions. It allows users with user-defined functions (UDFs) to create customized functions tailored to their specific needs.
    • Additionally, the Solver add-in supports optimization and linear programming, facilitating efficient problem-solving and data analysis tasks.

Data Manipulation

  • In Excel, data filtering can be based on color, font, and other formatting. Advanced filter options, including wildcards and logical operators, enable more precise data sorting.
    • Data validation allows for verifying entries using numeric, date, and text formats for data accuracy. And to summarize and analyze vast datasets, Excel provides pivot tables, simplifying the process and unlocking valuable insights.

Graphing Capabilities

  • Excel offers diverse charting and visualization options, including column, bar, line, and pie charts. Scatter plots facilitate the representation of data points for analyzing correlations and trends. And sparklines and mini-charts enable embedding small, data-rich visuals directly within cells.
    • Excel's pivot tables and pivot charts allow for dynamic data summarization and interactive data exploration.

User Experience Face-off: Smartsheet and Excel Compared

Next, we'll share comparisons of Smartsheet vs. Excel on several aspects essential to the user's experience:

User Interface

  • Smartsheet features an intuitive and modern interface with a clean design. Conversely, Excel, a familiar interface for long-time users, can intimidate new users.

Ease of Use

  • Smartsheet simplifies creation with templates and drag-and-drop, while Excel requires manual formatting and formula input, leading to time-consuming and error-prone tasks.

Collaboration Features

  • Smartsheet enables real-time collaboration for teams, while Excel lacks such features.

Project management capabilities

  • Both Smartsheet and Excel offer Gantt charts and timeline views for progress tracking, but Smartsheet provides resource allocation, which Excel lacks.

Data Analysis/Reporting Features

  • Smartsheet and Excel offer interactive dashboards for real-time reporting and insights.
  • Both provide pivot tables and charting for ad-hoc analysis, including data visualization tools like heat maps, rolling summations, and waterfall charts.
  • Each offers formatting and styling options for customized report presentations.
  • Both support various data sources like spreadsheets, databases, and APIs.
  • Both are integrative with business intelligence tools like Tableau and Power BI.

Overall, both platforms perform well in data manipulation and analytics. But for project management? Smartsheet is the best game in town.

Integration Mastery: How Smartsheet and Excel Connect with Others

Integration and compatibility are crucial elements for any successful software solution. Fortunately, Smartsheet and Excel deliver big time in their own ways.

Smartsheet knows that integration is crucial for workflow automation and productivity. That's why they offer powerful integrations with popular software applications, including:

  • Cloud storage services. Smartsheet integrates with major players like Google Drive, Dropbox, and Box. Access and edit files stored in these platforms directly from Smartsheet.
  • Productivity suites. Smartsheet integrates with Microsoft Office, Google Workspace, and other productivity suites. Open and edit documents and spreadsheets without leaving the Smartsheet platform.
  • Project management tools. Smartsheet integrates with popular project management tools like Jira, Asana, Trello, and Basecamp.
  • CRM and sales tools. Smartsheet integrates with customer relationship management (CRM) tools like Salesforce and HubSpot. This supports sales by tracking leads, managing contacts, and monitoring pipeline performance.
  • Business intelligence and analytics tools. Smartsheet works with business intelligence and analytics tools like Tableau, Power BI, and Looker.

But that's not all – Smartsheet also offers compatibility with different platforms and devices.

Here's what you can expect:

  • Smartsheet is accessible through a Windows, macOS, and Linux operating systems web browser.
  • Smartsheet offers mobile apps for iOS and Android devices.
  • Smartsheet provides desktop apps for Windows and macOS.

In short, Smartsheet has a strong integration and compatibility game. But let's see what Excel has to offer.

Excel is also a highly integrated and compatible program. But what are its strenghs?

Here are some of the key integration and compatibility features in Excel:

  • File Format Support. Excel supports myriad file formats, including CSV, JSON, and XML. It's easy to import/export data from other applications and share your Excel files with others.
  • Microsoft Office Integration. Excel integrates natively with other Microsoft Office applications, such as Word and PowerPoint. Easily insert Word documents and PowerPoint presentations into Excel worksheets and vice versa.
  • External Data Sources. Excel connects to external data sources like SQL Server, Oracle, and other database management systems.
  • Cloud Compatibility. Excel is fully compatible with Microsoft's OneDrive cloud storage service. Access Excel online to create and edit spreadsheets in your web browser.
  • Collaboration Tools. Excel includes various collaboration tools, including real-time coauthoring and commenting. You can also use Excel's built-in chat feature to communicate with your colleagues as you work.

Excel also offers compatibility with different platforms and devices. Here's what you can expect:

  • Excel is accessible through Google, Mozilla, Apple, and Microsoft web browsers.
  • Excel is available via mobile apps for iOS and Android devices.
  • Excel provides desktop apps for Windows and macOS.

Investing in Productivity: Smartsheet and Excel Pricing Breakdown

Both Smartsheet and Excel follow a subscription-based pricing model.

Smartsheet offers a very basic Freemium version, although Excel does not.

Smartsheet has a Pro and a Business tier for paid plans at $7 and $25 per monthly user, respectively. Excel has three tiers: Microsoft 365 Business Basic starting at $6, and a Premium Business plan at $22 per monthly user.

Smartsheet offers an Enterprise version by quote. Excel does not, although other customizable configurations are available for large users.

Weighing the Options: The Pros and Cons of Smartsheet vs. Excel

Here are some pros and cons regarding Smartsheet and Excel for quick and easy reference:



  1. Project Management. Smartsheet excels for managing projects. It offers a centralized platform for task assignments, deadlines, and file sharing.
  2. Automation: Smartsheet provides automated workflows, which can save time and reduce manual effort.
  3. Collaboration: Smartsheet prioritizes collaboration among team members, stakeholders, and clients.
  4. Integration: Smartsheet integrates with numerous tools, such as Slack and Salesforce.


  1. Learning Curve. Smartsheet has a learning curve due to its extensive feature set and customization options.
  2. Cost. Smartsheet can be more expensive than other productivity tools.
  3. Complicated Setup. Setting up Smartsheet can be challenging.



  1. Familiarity. Most people are already familiar with Excel, making it easier to adopt and use.
  2. Spreadsheets. Excel is the ultimate spreadsheet tool, offering various formulas, functions, and analysis techniques.
  3. Calculations. Excel performs calculations rapidly and accurately.
  4. Charts and Graphs. Excel's built-in chart and graph maker creates professional-looking visualizations with minimal effort.
  5. Offline Access. Excel is available offline, allowing you to continue working without internet connectivity.


  1. Limited Collaboration. Excel is primarily designed for individual productivity, making collaboration challenging.
  2. No Automation. Excel doesn't offer automated workflows.
  3. Limited Project Management. Excel is not optimized for project management.
  4. Limited Integration. Excel integrates with fewer tools compared to Smartsheet.

So there you have it! Our complete rundown on the Champs of Data and Project Management, Smartsheet vs. Excel.

Ultimately, the choice between them depends on your specific needs.

The Decision: Smartsheet vs. Excel vs. Your Needs

If you had to choose just one? Consider that Smartsheet offers project management capabilities that Excel lacks. And Smartsheet has resource and portfolio management features that Excel doesn’t.

Excel is uber-smart in data manipulation and analysis. But Smartsheet is competitive against Excel's core strengths. So if you require project management capabilities and a data manipulation tool, Smartsheet is your winner!

Still trying to figure it out? Smartsheet and Excel offer free trials, so take advantage of test runs before deciding. You'll find there's a good reason these two platforms have become fan favorites, so download and find out for yourself today!

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