Which tool would you use for project scheduling – a tool specifically designed for managing projects or Excel spreadsheet?

The answer is quite simple – a scheduling software is specifically designed for project management. It has many inherent advantages over spreadsheets like Excel or Google Sheets.

I guess you agree with me. But let me provide my reasons for my preference for a scheduling software like RationalPlan.

Appropriate Tool For Appropriate Jobs

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Which of the above picture suggests the right usage of fork & knife? The first picture. You would agree that fork and knife should be used for eating food and not medicine.

A hammer is no good for fixing screws and a screw-driver is not the right tool cutting wood. Similarly, PMs should use appropriate tools for managing projects.

You would say that this is simplistic example and it does not work in real world. So let me explain it further.

Microsoft Excel Vs. Scheduling Tool

How would a PM assign duties to team members and ensure task completion? How would a Customer keep an eye on work progression? How would a Sponsor track project expenses?

Excel would be a great bet if you want an isolated solution as an answer to the above questions. But project management is not done in isolation. It is a group effort.

There are many things that make a proper scheduling tool stand out from Excel. I can probably think of 100 things but I have made a group of 7 features that Excel just does not provide.

  1. Task creation, assignment, & tracking
  2. Resource planning & tracking
  3. Availability of Gantt charts for presentation & reporting
  4. Network diagrams for planning analysis
  5. Project performance dashboards
  6. Detailed project reports
  7. Team & stakeholder collaboration

You should also read more about advantages of PM software and why should you upgrade from spreadsheets to PM software.

What If I have a Single Member Small Project?

I conduct PMP workshops and maintain a project management blog to help PMP aspirants. PMP certification is a small individual project. I have prepared exam prep schedule for completing this project.

I advise my students to modify the schedule template and track it using a proper scheduling software.

Excel cannot track the time, cost, and resources together in a single view. It cannot fairly tell if you are ahead or behind the plan. It cannot do time and cost calculations automatically.

To Conclude

The use of Excel spreadsheets to manage, track, and monitor project tasks can be very confusing and slow you down. You should use a modern project management tool to keep your business competitive.

Your Thoughts

Do you use Excel for managing projects or a portion of projects? How do you use it? What is stopping you to use a modern PM software?

Please leave a comment.

Praveen Malik

Praveen Malik is a start-up enthusiast and sales conversion guru. But his first love remain in Project Management. Praveen is a well-renowned speaker, trainer, author, and project management coach. He helps PMP aspirants through his eponymous project management blog.