Microsoft Project vs. Smartsheet

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Microsoft Project and Smartsheet are similar project management tools that organizations use for everything from budgeting and resource planning to tracking progress and managing teams.

Smartsheet has a spreadsheet-like interface that lets teams collaborate, share information, and track progress in real-time. Its dynamic collaboration and work management platform enables users to track customer and employee information, assign tasks to team members, and create calendars. Over 40,000 companies in more than 160 countries have used Smartsheet to manage projects and tasks. You can try Smartsheet today for free.

Microsoft Project is a cloud-based collaboration and productivity tool that offers an array of features. MS Project has come a long way since its release for Windows version in 1990. This efficient platform works great for both small and large projects, keeping everyone in your team on track with their tasks. Right now, you can try Microsoft Project for free for one month.

Microsoft Project vs. Smartsheet

Microsoft Project and Smartsheet Compared to the Best Project Management Software

After testing plenty of different platforms, we’ve narrowed our options to the six best project management tools on the market. Smartsheet is one of the six, but Microsoft Project is not. Either one might still be a great fit for your needs, though. is the ideal project management software for most organizations. For one-person teams, it’s free to use, but its powerful collaboration, AI, and dashboard features make it excellent for agencies and large teams. You can start using for free today.

ClickUp is perfect for remote work. With its straightforward UI, national and international teams can collaborate and keep track of their progress in real-time. You can sign up for a free ClickUp account right now.

Teamwork is an exceptional platform for client-facing organizations. Agencies, freelancers, and consultants use it to streamline communication and deliver results to their clients. You can always set up a Teamwork account for free.

Microsoft Project Compared to Smartsheet

Microsoft Project offers a logical extension of the Microsoft ecosystem. Rather than learning a new platform (or planning projects in Excel), MS Project helps streamline and automate many planning processes. Smartsheet is very similar to MS Project in many ways, but its spreadsheet-like interface is a little more modern than MS Project’s view.

Microsoft Project Highlights

Microsoft’s suite of tools (i.e., Excel, Outlook, Teams) is among the most popular for businesses and teams. With over 270 million people using Teams and plenty more using the rest of the Microsoft 365 suite, MS Project is sometimes seen as the fastest integrator because of its familiarity with users.

Microsoft Project offers an array of useful views your team can utilize to build, visualize and manage several projects. Within these views, there are three main perspectives you can explore:

  • Grid View: A simplified view of your project that offers an at-a-glance perspective. You can use it to create task lists and track progress in an organized way.
  • Board View: A Kanban-style view of your project that’s useful for tracking progress in agile projects.
  • Timeline View: A traditional Gantt chart view of your project to help you visualize and plan tasks in a timeline format.

Users can swap between views easily and adjust the layout for maximum efficiency. They can also standardize their teams’ views to ensure everyone is looking at the same data.

MS Project also has plenty of task and resource management tools that help you track progress. It supports automation—like task reminders and due dates—to ensure your projects stay on track no matter how complex they become.

Smartsheet Highlights

Smartsheet is a cloud-based project management platform with plenty of features to help teams collaborate, manage tasks, and get work done efficiently. Smartsheet’s spreadsheet-like interface makes it easy to use and navigate, making the transition from Excel or Google Sheets easier.

For project management, Smartsheet powers a modern way to manage the whole project lifecycle. You can easily assign tasks, set due dates and reminders, track progress, and collaborate with teams without leaving the platform. Planning projects in Smartsheet is fast, intuitive, and highly visual—as are resource and budget management.

But Smartsheet strives to be more than just a project management platform—it aspires to become the core of how businesses complete their tasks. It also provides tracking data on industry trends in addition to file-sharing options and other office productivity solutions. This makes it an excellent choice for larger organizations that need a more comprehensive solution.

Microsoft Project vs. Smartsheet: Pros and Cons

Of course, no tool is perfect. We love plenty of things about both tools, but there are also things that might not fit your team’s needs. We’ve compiled a list of pros and cons to help you make the most informed decision possible.

Where Microsoft Project Shines

Integration With MS Systems: Hundreds of millions of Microsoft users can benefit from having MS Project integrated into their workflow. As a part of Microsoft Office 365, MS Project can be integrated with all other popular staples in the Microsoft family, like Outlook, PowerPoint, Access Excel, and Word. This gives users access to an incomparable range of tools that few can match.

Multi-Channel Communication: MS Project provides you with a plethora of communication options, allowing for easy access to tools such as Outlook, Yammer, and Skype. Slack also readily integrates with Microsoft Project, enabling you to communicate easily with your team.

Resource Management: With Microsoft Project, you can allocate resources appropriately by either requesting tasks or assigning them to team members. Project is designed to automatically request and assign precise details for you, providing instant visibility so your team can begin working quickly. Other team members can also visualize how resources are divided, ensuring a balanced workload for everyone.

Example of Microsoft Teams interface

Automated Workflows: Automated approval, tracking, and reminder workflows make it easy to keep your team organized and up-to-date. Microsoft Project also offers automated notifications when tasks are completed or delayed, so everyone is always on the same page. If you already use Teams, you can approve tasks directly from the app.

Example of Microsoft Project Roadmap interface

Project Roadmap Tool: Using the roadmap, you can monitor programs and build project portfolios. Project portfolios are compilations of projects, resources, and processes that can be managed effectively in one place. It’s an essential tool for larger businesses with multiple ongoing tasks or programs to manage simultaneously.

Extensive Support Community: Microsoft Project has a large support system with an extensive online technical community. Thanks to its affiliation with Microsoft, the community shares plenty of helpful resources to help with any issues you may come across. 

Where Microsoft Project Needs Improvement

Expensive Pricing: MS Project offers a few varying tiers for its software. Unfortunately, they’re all on the pricey side of things. Plenty of users complain about the cost vs. the functionality, especially when compared to more feature-rich solutions like ClickUp and Because of its high price, many users can only purchase a few licenses, which results in low overall productivity. And without a free version, individual users or small teams are better off with a more affordable (or free) alternative.

Example of a timeline view in Microsoft Project

Limited Collaboration Capacity: Microsoft Project doesn’t have the same level of collaboration that some competitors offer due to its centralized nature. It does have a few solid file-sharing capabilities, but these are limited and require additional software for complete functionality. Although it’s useful for project mapping and tracking, there’s no way to communicate within the spreadsheets.

Compatibility Costs: If your customer wants access to specific data, this is unfortunate: they can’t get it on any computer unless it also has MS Project. This requires clients to either spend a minimum of $500 or find a computer with the requisite software installed. Although this might not happen often, you will probably need to spend extra time just to send a client basic information (especially if they don’t use a PC).

Data Sharing and Teamwork Limits: Collaboration between teams and clients is key to completing any project. However, MS Project does not provide real-time updates unless you program outside integrations. Moreover, when limited to purchasing and downloading their standard software, customers are restricted to Windows PCs only. Other project management tools offer in-app communication and file-sharing capabilities, making collaboration fast, easy, and efficient.

Where Smartsheet Shines

Example of Smartsheet interface

Excellent User Interface: There will always be those who despise the clunkiness of a spreadsheet interface (hence why many project management tools focus on drag-and-drop and collaboration interfaces), but Smartsheet is the best at what it does. Especially if team members have Excel (or, yes, MS Project) experience, Smartsheet will look both instantly familiar and highly intuitive. By expanding on the traditional spreadsheet interface with widgets, views, notifications, and other features, Smartsheet endears itself to the Excel-savvy while still providing a modern project management experience.

Strong Collaboration Tools: Smartsheet has some of the best collaboration tools, which are especially helpful for teams that manage multiple projects simultaneously. With a wide variety of ways to communicate with team members (chat, email, etc.) as well as real-time updates in shared documents, Smartsheet is one of the market leaders in this area.

Example of Smartsheet timesheet

Time Tracking Capability: Time tracking is critical for organizations working on an hourly basis with clients, collaborating with contractors, or billing for time spent on tasks. Smartsheet’s time tracking feature allows users to easily track time spent on tasks by team members and can generate analytics reports for project managers.

Start-to-Finish Project Management: Smartsheet is more than just a tool for completing tasks—it’s an all-inclusive work execution platform. With its advanced cloud-based technology, you can deploy effective process management on any scale while providing automated workflow solutions, collaboration between teams, and detailed reports. This powerful system eliminates data silos so that less time is spent switching from one application to the next.

Report Building on Autopilot: Smartsheet eliminates the need for tedious and lengthy reporting by getting information directly from relevant sources. It doesn’t matter if it’s your Accounting team, Design team, or any other group—Smartsheet provides a report builder that will efficiently compile all of the data required quickly so you can access essential details.

Where Smartsheet Needs Improvement

Example of Smartsheet Gantt view

Moderate Learning Curve: Compared to non-spreadsheet alternatives, Smartsheet requires a bit of a learning curve. It’s not overly complex, and most users can find their way around its features after some initial practice, but the ability to use Excel proficiently will help accelerate the process. Without as intuitive of a user interface, Smartsheet users will also have some difficulty matching its features with the existing workflows.

No Free Option: Like MS Project, Smartsheet does not offer a free version, but its similar pricing structure means that it can be just as expensive depending on the features you need. It is, however, less expensive than MS Project for all teams, which might make it a better option if budget is a priority.

Limited Integration Support: Smartsheet’s limited native integrations can be useful (e.g., Salesforce, Google, Jira, Zoom, etc.), but they’re not as extensive as other platforms’ integration libraries. Users can integrate anything with Zapier, but most software products can also do that. The additional cost and time associated with setting up these connections might make the process too expensive for certain cases.

The Last Word on Microsoft Project and Smartsheet

Microsoft Project and Smartsheet are two spreadsheet-based project management solutions. MS Project is Microsoft’s flagship solution, with a wide range of features that make it suitable for teams of any size and complexity. Smartsheet is a suitable alternative to MS Project and offers a more visual design with better integrations and valuable features that make it easier to collaborate on projects.

MS project is an excellent choice for teams using Microsoft Outlook, Teams, and other Microsoft products. Smartsheet integrates with Microsoft, Google, Salesforce, and other business suites out-of-the-box, making it more useful for a wider range of customers.

There certainly is a case for spreadsheet-style project management, but plenty fear the complexity of this approach. But if you aren’t one of them, consider checking out our other best project management tools to get a feel for what you like.

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