- Microsoft Excel is one of the most widely used tools for Project Management and email is the go-to communication media.
- Off lately, project managers are finding it exceedingly difficult to manage the entire workload with just Excel and email.
- Learn why project managers can’t probably do without an Email and Excel Alternative for Project Management, and how to make the transition to a modernized software product easily.
If you’re married to MS Excel and Gmail for project management, you may have begun to feel suffocated. The relationship has had its sunny days and each passing day feels more like a drag. Things aren’t as hunky-dory as they once were. Overstepping it may sound, I believe it’s time for you to move on to look for another email and Excel alternative for Project Management.
Email has served professionals for the longest time, but it’s time to outgrow it. No matter how accustomed your team is to receiving project updates via email, you’d be risking your productivity if it continues.
The same goes for MS Excel, it is wonderfully easy for project planning but off lately, it has grown cumbersome. Team environments, business dynamics and modern productivity needs have changed drastically. And the familiar interface of Excel simply doesn’t suffice anymore.
Table of Contents
- Why Email and Excel Aren’t Fit for Project Management?
- Drawbacks of Using Excel for Project Management
- Drawbacks of Using Email for Project Management
- Moving Beyond Email and Excel For Project Management
- Shift From Email and Excel For Project Management to ProofHub in under 10 minutes
Why Email and Excel Aren’t Fit for Project Management?
The key problem with Email and Excel is that they’re extremely manual to work with.
Sure you can automate a few things here and there, but it hardly suffices for the kind of velocity your projects need. This slow and tiring process eats away at your productivity under your nose.
The time spent in updating the gazillion spreadsheets in a project can be re-allocated to more critical functions such as team interactions and project planning. Not to mention the long hours that go by simply rummaging through your mailbox.
Modern project management software products are designed to remove such donkey work from your workflow.
Let me elaborate.
Drawbacks of Using Excel for Project Management
Lack of Collaboration
Have you ever used an Excel file with all your team members editing it at the same time? – That’s exactly how chaos looks like. Excel is great for personal productivity and number crunching but the moment your team joins the party, it gets too messy.
Imagine using a single spreadsheet for tracking all your project tasks. You’ll soon end up with a hundred rows littered with comments and text, making it all too hard to figure out. And if you want to address something urgently, you have no way but to call up your teammate or mark them an email – which again counts as manual effort.
Therefore, it really steals the collaboration potential of the team, making them struggle to work together. This eventually impacts the project progress in terms of speed of work, creativity and work management.
After a point, it gets too difficult to stuff all your project details in rows and columns. Excel’s unique tabular interface makes a great case for reporting and analysis but fails at managing dynamic project information. If you look at the bare necessities of your project – timesheets, taskboards, files and project calendars – all components need at least one separate workbook.
Could you be toggling between four different Excel workbooks with innumerable spreadsheets? Furthermore, navigating the key insights of your project such as, “how many tasks were completed today?”, or “how many days until the next milestone?” would really need some digging.You need something intuitive and easy-to-grasp that offers you all your project details in one glance.
Doesn’t Comply With Modern Project Management Needs
Most modern project management has evolved in many ways. Today, we need hour-by-hour updates on tasks while several team members work from remote locations. In such setups, you need to move beyond plain list-based project management and use modernized features.
Here are a few things to name;
- Notifications – Excel doesn’t have a smart notification system that could alert users whenever an important update is made.
- Communication – Stakeholders constantly need to communicate with each other to discuss project tasks, brainstorm ideas and discuss issues. Excel doesn’t have any provision for multi-stakeholder communication.
- Scheduling – Chalking out activities for a campaign or a sprint requires dynamic planning which could get tough as Excel sheets are difficult to update in real-time.
- Abstraction – Data Abstraction layers and smart interface design keep all key details at a glance. As the project grows complex, it becomes difficult to automate data abstraction in Excel.
Drawbacks of Using Email for Project Management
- Difficult to Manage Multiple Conversations
Emailing your entire team means handling several email threads at once with a bright chance of losing track of work.
Each day, our inboxes receive an overwhelming amount of emails. Sorting through all the important ones, and then keeping track of replies could get too stressful for any project manager.
- Sharing Files isn’t Streamlined
Ever tried to find the email attachment that you sent out a month ago?
Yes, you won’t find it any easy because email attachments tend to drown in the sea of emails received every day.
Now, imagine managing hundreds of files that an entire project contains! It would get extremely difficult to manage, track and pull out files just when you need them. And this is true for all inboxes being used for project management.
- Real-time Synchronous Communication requires Separate tools
Emails were never built for real-time communication.
They weren’t! And in today’s hyperconnected world, it’s impossible to communicate solely on emails. You’d need instant messaging or audio calls, which requires additional tools.
This inevitably increases your management overheads and busies you more than you should be.
Moving Beyond Email and Excel For Project Management
In order to successfully ditch email and Excel for Project management, you’d have to look for tools that are adept for your workflow. Modern project management software products offer a number of useful features for managers and teams, that help you rise above productivity hurdles, and create a streamlined process.
If you haven’t tried any tools yet, I have curated a list of a few nifty tools that you can try out. Remember that each of these tools is unique in itself and there’s no one size fits all; you’ll have to understand which tool solves your unique requirements proficiently.
ProofHub is a project management software designed for enhancing team communication and organizing projects with better visibility. You can organize all your work in familiar Excel-esque tables but with better control and agility. Jump from one task to another, assign new work items to your team or update the project calendar – all within a few clicks!
No need of tracking ten different spreadsheets or using elaborate formulas. All your important project information is clearly laid out in one beautiful, easy-to-navigate interface. And yes, no more manual emailing also – ProofHub sends out web notifications and email updates automatically whenever needed. If you need to talk, there’s instant chat and discussion boards integrated right into the tool.
As evident, It offers the best features of email and Excel in a collaboration-friendly environment. You can plan your projects just as you would in an Excel spreadsheet and talk with your team members instantly, minus the hassles! It’s touted as one of the most ideal Email and Excel alternative for Project Management for collaborative teams.
Let’s understand why!
Top Features of ProofHub
- Ditch Multiple Spreadsheets
ProofHub organizes all your tasks into task lists. You can fully control how these task lists appear, who has access to them and how work must be managed in each task list. You have full freedom for viewing and organizing tasks. If you like the tabular format, go for the Table View. If you like to follow workflows, switch to Kanban Boards, and if you need advanced planning, try Gantt Charts. All of this can be done with one click. Put your tasks into task lists, and poof! most of your work organization is instantly done. Unlike Excel, where each function requires manual effort.
- Manage Work in Real-time
All your project data is shared with your team members in real-time. ProofHub runs in your browser, letting everyone who accesses it get instant updates to the project. No need to download Excel files or constantly check your inbox. All important tasks, files, events, etc, are neatly organized in your dashboard, which is updated in real-time, saving you the hassle of following up.
- Instantly Connect With All Team Members
Do you send out emails asking for updates or follow-ups? Never do that again! ProofHub offers instant team chat for quickly reaching out to team members or having group conversations. Share files with your team, mention team members in task comments or simply send them a ping – you’ll never need to open your mailbox again for project work. This not only increases your communication speed but also helps you get over long time-consuming email threads.
- Work-friendly Interface
At times, it’s hard to keep looking at Rows and Columns for all your work. You need something cheerful, dynamic, and intuitive when you’re managing work! ProofHub’s refreshing interface is designed to make your work friendlier. You can customize interface colors, click-open work tasks, or navigate to work files all so smoothly. It helps you move on from Excel’s drab interface to a livelier place that adapts according to you.
- Centralize Everything!
ProofHub is known for centralizing 8 work apps into one consolidated software product. These are;
- Task Management
- Discussion Boards
- Team Chat
- Project Calendar
- Project Notes
- Project Files
- Gantt Charts
Most of these work apps are inevitable when you’re working in a team environment. And many teams use separate apps for meeting these requirements.
ProofHub reduces your dependence on 8 apps to 1 app. You don’t have to waste time switching between multiple apps and remembering those many passwords, ProofHub in itself is enough.
- Reporting for Managers
Managers usually spend a hefty chunk of their time making reports for C-level execs. This involves formatting and compiling data in spreadsheets. ProofHub replaces all that hard manual work with one-click reports, ready to be viewed or shared instantly.
You can include important project metrics such as Workload distribution, Milestone progress, and Billable Timesheets, with full customizability. Simply pick and choose the metrics you want and download the report in no time!
For information on our pricing plans, kindly visit our pricing page.
Global Teams, Agile Projects – Enter the new age of project management with new ProofHub!
Asana is a task management system that helps you ease out of email and Excel with some nifty features. It’s designed on the philosophy of integrating work processes with task automation. You can start managing all your work tasks using Asana’s intuitive workflow. It lets you onboard all your team members, distribute tasks, and manage progress with lucid reports.
Top Features of Asana
- Move all your tasks to Asana
Asana’s task management software is proficient enough to replace your Excel sheets. You can create tasks, organize them into fixed workflows and collaborate with your team members on each task. It runs online, ensuring that all your team members have access to all the tasks with easy communication. Update task status or leave a comment to keep your team members in the loop.
- Build a Workflow
Most kinds of teams can build their own customized workflows in Asana to make task handling highly predictable. You can define the stages a task must move through before it’s marked as done. These workflows make it easier for multiple stakeholders to avoid conflicts.
- Automate Task Handling
Asana offers several automation features that reduce manual task work. You can move tasks, change status or assign tasks each time an automation trigger is fired. In complex workflow setups, these automation features simplify daily process needs.
Asana is offered at US$10.99 per user per month billed annually for the premium plan and US$24.99 for the Business plan.
Smartsheet is an email and Excel alternative for Project Management that looks and feels just like Excel. It displays project information in the same tabular form with the freedom of switching views as you move along. Smartsheet is adept at building a connected workflow while automating robotic processes. You can connect your legacy apps with Smartsheet to manage your project work easily.
Top Features of Smartsheet
- Go Beyond Static Excel Files
Smartsheet enables you to organize your project data into dynamic sheets that consume and process data in real-time. You can create tasks, attach files or run automation triggers from a consolidated sheet that is accessible to all your team members.
- Dashboards For Everything
Whether you’re running a marketing campaign or figuring the project roadmap, a neat dashboard makes it saner to comprehend the data. Smartsheets dashboarding helps you build customizable dashboards for all kinds of project activities. You can easily track project KPIs and stay in the loop of new updates with multiple viewing options.
- Bring All Your Apps Together
Smartsheet is capable of connecting with other work Apps such as Jira or Github to seamlessly share data. You can build your own integrated apps and keep connecting disparate apps together to have the best control over your work process.
Asana is offered at US$7 per user per month billed annually for the pro plan and US$25 for the Business plan.
Wrike’s work management tool is a definite alternative to using Excel and email. It is built around the idea of Agile project management which requires deep collaboration in the team. Its business suite offers you refined features that meet your project management needs proficiently, without ever relying on Excel or email again.
You can have your team collaborate better with real-time file sharing and communication. You can plan projects with increased predictability using Kanban Boards. Finally, tracking project progress and measuring productivity can be done from the same suite.
Top Features of Wrike
Plan Without Rows & Columns
Wrike offers Gantt Charts and Kanban Boards for laying out your work items. It’s pretty handy for Agile teams who usually plan their sprints using the same. You can view your weekly or biweekly plan using task cards, and ditch the conventional Rows & Columns view.
Stakeholders can view, edit and comment on files concurrently without having to ping-pong the same file over emails. This real-time collaboration is less error-prone and consumes lesser time. It also increases the collective creativity of stakeholders.
Measure the Project Objectively
Wrike comes with a number of project metrics that help managers measure if the project is headed in the right direction. Project reports are auto-compiled, ready for analysis and quick decision making whenever needed.
Wrike is offered at US$9.8 per user per month billed annually for the Professional plan and US$24.8 for the Business plan.
Trello is a classic collaboration tool that is ready to help you leave Excel behind. It’s built upon the Kanban Board philosophy which pans out your project, not in Rows and Columns but in project cards. These cards contain all the task information with due dates and files.
You shuffle the cards across project stages such as “To-do”, “In-progress” and “Done”, to keep your work on track. The entire board is visible to everyone assigned to the project, for quicker and easier visibility.
Top Features of Trello
- Forget Using Excel Tables
Although Trello does offer you a Tabular view, most of your tasks are organized in the Kanban Boards. It’s a definite upgrade over Excel tables as you can summarize your entire project in a single, comprehensible view.
- Great for Agile Teams
Agile teams with set processes can quickly get started with Trello. The Kanban-style interface is suitable for Agile processes with customizable stages. You can also create lists and set due dates for tasks organized in your workflow for quicker execution.
- Reduces Reliance on Emails
In most cases, you’d not have to rely on emails as Trello task comments and task statuses are enough. Trello would be shooting emails on your behalf for all important updates, hence, reducing your reliance on emails.
Trello is offered at US$5 per user per month billed annually for the Standard plan, US$10 for the Premium plan and US$17.5 for the Enterprise plan.
Also Read: Trello vs Asana vs ProofHub: Which One is The Best Value for Money?
Shift From Email and Excel For Project Management to ProofHub in under 10 minutes
If you’re ready to make the switch, ProofHub is an excellent email and Excel alternative for Project Management that guarantees you a smooth transition.
You can get started for free.
All you need to do is to sign up at ProofHub and create a free account to start leveraging all of ProofHub’s features from day 1.
To help you understand how to finally get rid of Excel and email, we have made a quick guide that will get you onboarded in under 10 minutes.
The first step is to sign up for a free account at ProofHub.
The free account helps you to get a hang of ProofHub’s features before you bring your team to the software.
In order to sign up, we’ll need the following details;
- Company Name
- Phone number
- Suitable URL
The URL is used to access ProofHub from any internet-enabled browser. You can make it as unique as your company, be creative!
Let’s register a few users to your account whom you’re collaborating with. You can add an unlimited number of users to ProofHub, making it scalable and cost-effective. You can either add one person at a time as shown below. Or Import multiple users at once using a CSV file.
- Add one person at a time
Simply enter their first and last name alongside their email address to enrol them. You must specify Access Role to add this user. All other details such as Title, Group and Project can be added later on.
Once added, you can now let the person set their own password or set their password manually. Feel free to set their language preference and Timezone also.
- Add Multiple users via CSV Import
Go to the “People” section located at the left hand side of the screen and click on the “Import CSV” option.
Download the sample CSV file to fill out the information about your users and upload it in the dialogue box shown below.
Create a Project
Once you have the users uploaded, you can create a project to associate them with.
Click on the Quick Add icon and select “Project” from the options.
Add project details such as Title, Description and Duration. You can assign a project manager also, with special management permissions.
Click on Next to finish.
- Create Lists
In the Tasks section of the Project, click on “List” option to create a new list.
This list will contain all the tasks relevant to a given campaign or subject. If you’re creating tasks for your marketing team, you can name it “Marketing” and add all marketing tasks into it.
The workflow dictates what all stages will this task move through. The Basic Workflow contains “To-do” and “Done” stages. You can completely customize your workflow as per process needs. Lastly, subscribe the team members you had enrolled in the previous steps to this list, so that they can receive relevant updates.
- Import Tasks
If you have been managing your tasks using Excel, we have made it easy for you to import all your tasks into ProofHub. Simply click on the “Import CSV” button in the Tasks section of your project and fill our the sample CSV in the given format.
- Sample CSV Format
Once you’re done, simply upload the CSV and associate it with the task list you created earlier. Then click on the “Import” button and you’ll be done!
You’re All Set!
You have your people, rproject, tasks and due dates all set in ProofHub. You really needn’t struggle with Excel anymore as you can manage everything from one consolidated tool. You can monitor your project from the Reports section to gain the latest insights into your project performance. The “Manage” section helps you fully customize ProofHub as per your organizational needs.
Take the leap of faith and begin your project management journey with a specialized tool, designed to smash your productivity challenges. Excel and email – the inevitable duo finally needs to take a back seat and let your team experience the true power of collaboration. I have suggested some handy email and Excel alternatives for project management in this article. Always remember that the best alternative for you is the one that tackles your inherent challenges proficiently. Go for a tool that is designed to help you quickly move out of Excel and doesn’t pose more usability issues than there are already!