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Project Portfolio Management

What Excel is Good For – And What It’s Not

Published By Team AdaptiveWork

Most businesses today care about efficiency. Not just because of all the things a company can achieve when you work smarter, but because of all the time that opens up for you to spend on family, friends, hobbies, travel, and a full and rich life outside of work.

One of the biggest productivity obstacles that we notice across the businesses we work with is spreadsheet addiction. While spreadsheets may feel like project management tools, when used incorrectly, they can also be serious productivity killers.

If you’ve ever sat down at your computer, only to be overwhelmed by tab after tab of spreadsheets, then there’s a good chance you’ve suffered from this syndrome (we promise you’re not alone). We’re here to clear the air on how to stop overcomplicating projects and task management with Excel spreadsheets.

What Excel is good for:

Data storage & sharing

There’s no question that spreadsheets are perfect for organizing large amounts of data and putting them in an easily shareable form. If you’re a digital marketing team running a keyword research project, for example, you’ll be swimming in spreadsheets listing URLs, keywords, rankings, and more – and that’s a good thing.

What you don’t actually need spreadsheets for:

Accounting & Time Sheets

While accounting and time tracking have traditionally been considered spreadsheet functions, they can also both be replaced with software that can automate time tracking, invoicing, and payroll from one cloud-based application.


You no longer have to be weighed down by spreadsheets to track your sales leads and customer service interactions. There are numerous business sales applications that do all the heavy lifting for you, such as gathering customer information and creating reports. With your newfound free time, you can devote extra effort to closing deals and increasing revenue for your company.

Project Management

We’re always amazed by how many project managers are still tracking their projects through Excel spreadsheets. This is a surefire way to clutter your computer screen and mind.

Cloud-based project management tools, like Planview AdaptiveWork, can consolidate your spreadsheets into one clean workspace that is easily shareable with your team. Project management tools take all the guesswork out of project management for you. They have amazing features, like real time updates, analytics, and smart charts that you can access from anywhere, including your phone.

OK – but isn’t there lots of data involved in accounting/sales/project management?

Of course, you CAN use a spreadsheet to organize just about any kind of information – including hours worked, budgets, project tasks, etc. It just might not be the most efficient choice.

For clarity, let’s break down some of the pros and cons of spreadsheets:

Pros of spreadsheets

  • Make large amounts of data easy to export
  • Make large amounts of data digestible/readable
  • Low barrier to entry for basic functions

Cons of spreadsheets

  • Not necessarily collaborative or dynamic – can function simply as data storage and get lost in your inbox
  • Not helpful with task automation – can be too manual
  • Prone to inaccuracies due to user error
  • Barrier to entry for higher level functions – there are actual classes on how to use Excel!
  • Some functions more complex than necessary for certain projects

We’re not saying everyone should ditch spreadsheets for good – just that they’re somewhat outdated for dynamic projects or work that requires real-time collaboration, automation of tasks, and more streamlined task management.

If you’re interested in replacing your project management related spreadsheets with one all-encompassing cloud-based solution, Planview AdaptiveWork may be a good choice. Our robust application includes all the project management tools you need, such as full reporting, real-time data, and automated workflows. Learn more about our team collaboration software here.

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Written by Team AdaptiveWork