When it comes to business management every small and medium scale business starts with MS Excel or Google sheets. They need these to manage their tasks, brainstorming, data processing, and various business areas. And this is where project management comes in.
But as projects grow people switch from Excel and Google sheets to project management software. There is nothing wrong with moving from Excel or Sheets to PM software but every software has a learning curve and a price tag.
I’ve tried many project management tools like Trello, Basecamp, TeamGantt, NiftyPM, and Notion. I believe most of these are Tasks Managers and we can’t customize them according to our project requirements. In many cases, we need to adapt the way the tool works, and there is no one size fit for PM software.
There are thousands of project management software out there but we simply forget to excel Google sheets for project management.
I believe that instead of switching to projects and tasks management tools, we should excel in Google Sheets. There are hundreds of formulas, add-ons, app scripts, and templates to manage our tasks and projects online. Many of these are free and some need subscriptions for extra features.
Google Spreadsheets is one of the handy and free tools to create awesome dashboards, trackers, charts, and graphs. With Google Spreadsheet’s advanced formulas and pivot tables and charts, we can track, monitor, analyze, and visualize projects‘ progress.
MS Excel, Google Sheets, and Project Management
In my last blog post – MS Excel Vs Google Sheets, I’ve emphasized Google Sheets’ real-time collaboration, syncing, and sharing features which are must-have elements in an online project management software. MS Excel certainly lacks these features.
However, I believe MS Excel is best to process large project management data because I’ve experienced Google Sheets hanging issues when we sync and process large data.
Why Google Sheets is a Best Project Management Tool
1 – Google Sheets are FREE!
Just like any other Google product and services Google Spreadsheets are free for everyone. However, if you need customization and branding you can opt-in for Google Suite or Workplace to get work emails and have control over your business.
It is affordable for start-ups and small and medium scale businesses. You just need to login to Google Drive and create your spreadsheets, presentations, and word documents to get started.
You can plan a simple project timeline or a task management sheet and collaborate with your colleagues. A spreadsheet can be public, private, and accessible to hundreds of people.
On the other hand, project management software charges based on the number of users, features, and have limitations for free users.
2 – Collaborations and Integration
Spreadsheets are shareable and you have full control over what type of access you want to give to your colleagues. It could be “View only”, “Comment Only”, or they can access it for a limited time period. You can protect your data with a set of permissions.
With real-time editing, the whole team can see what changes are being made. With Google Sheets’ filter view feature, you can work on your own data without disturbing each others’ work.
Notes feature is helpful to give instructions and keep notes about projects and provides more information about the cell value.
With the comment feature, You can ask for changes, report problems, and give feedback and reviews to your colleagues. Your colleagues get notifications via email and they can comment back in the email itself.
Not only that with the Importrange formula you can pull data from other sheets so you don’t need to switch between multiple sheets.
With the notification rule, you get notified about changes that occurred in the sheets which helps you keep eye on your projects’ progress.
Google Sheets can easily connect with various services like Gmail, Slides and APIs.
You can integrate other services like Salesforce, Zapier, Aweber, and IFTTT to work and sync your work with Google Sheets.
3 – Advanced Formulas, Features, Add-Ons and App Scripts
With advanced formulas like sparkline, filter, Sortn, Importrange, Importdata, Google Finance, and Google Translate you can get various things done within Sheets. With conditional formatting, you can highlight cells when specific conditions meet.
I’ve few videos and templates on Google Finance, Google Translate and ImportRange which can be found below.
Add-ons like Supermetrics, you can pull your Google ads, Google Analytics, and Facebook ads data within Google Sheets.
Yet another Mail Merge – an add-on to send bulk personalized emails. There are various such add-ons to automate and simplify various tasks within spreadsheets.
Google Spreadsheets also supports macros, with macros you can save time on repetitive tasks. With advanced formulas, addons, and micros you automate different tasks and get a view of all the things in a single or multiple sheets.
4 – It’s easy to use (No Learning Curve)
In many basic computer courses and school people get to know about MS Excel that’s why many people can easily adapt it. They don’t need to know advanced formulas and features to get started with Google Sheets. You just need to know how to fill data in rows and columns.
On the other hand, project management tools have a learning curve and it takes a while to get familiar with the features they provide and how can you and your team manage projects with them.
You don’t need any coding experience, sheets are easy to customize for any tasks and projects.
- To-do list or Checklist
Every project management has a checklist/to-do list and you can create it within Spreadsheets. You can add a status column to track progress and use conditional formatting to highlight your completed tasks and also assign these tasks to someone by simply commenting and elaborate tasks via notes.
5 – Google Sheets and MS Excel Templates
There are many Google Sheets and MS Excel Templates on project management. There are Gantt Charts, Workflow, Waterfall Project Management and there are many more which help us manage our projects within spreadsheets.
However, I don’t think there is one template that fits all requirements but Google Sheets’ Free Templates can help you in getting started with PM with sheets. You can customize them according to your requirements.
Google Sheets also offer Invoice, Purchase Order, Employee Shift Schedule, Weekly Timesheet, Expense Report, Customer Relationship Management, Wedding Planner, Team Roaster, etc templates.
You can explore the list of templates here.
Disadvantages of Google Sheets
- UI – Google Sheets are not mobile-friendly and if not formatted well they don’t look good on the desktop either. On a mobile app, It’s difficult to access the information and make edits. PM tools are extremely user-friendly and have a great user experience and Google Sheets certainly lacks this.
- Communication – Google Sheets’ has inbuilt chat features but most of the time different departments need different sheets, so it’s hard to convey a message to a person or a group of people. No channels or groups for communication, you can’t make announcements and keep the whole team on the same page. We have to rely on email, Hangouts, Slack or Skype.
- 50000 Cells Limit – Google Sheets are limited to 50000 and that can be a limitation for many large businesses but small and medium scale businesses can rely on Google Sheets because they have limited data.
Digital Marketing, HR, Sales, Finance, and Administration there are many business segments that need to be managed well for sustainable business growth. Planning, Projecting, Analysing, Monitoring, Tracking, Streamlining tasks, and making sure they are getting done on time are responsibilities of a project manager. Google Sheets can be state-of-the-art solutions for all project managers.
I have tried many project management software and tools like Trello, Basecamp, TeamGantt, NiftyPM, and Notion. I think no matter which PM management tool or software we use, we need Google Sheets, formulas like Sumifs, Countifs, and unique can perform various tasks and save a lot of time which can’t be done within any PMs.
Some need Gantt Charts, some need Kanban but every project needs data and data processing software. MS Excel is a great data processing software but it’s not free and Google Suits or Workplace comes with Google Sheets which is a free online data processing tool that can outperform not only MS Excel but project management software too.
If you are a project manager or getting started with project management you need to upgrade your Google Sheets skills to get the most out of this awesome software.