Blog What's better than Excel? Exploring spreadsheet software and Excel alternatives

What's better than Excel? Exploring spreadsheet software and Excel alternatives


Microsoft Excel has long been the go-to spreadsheet tool for professionals, businesses, and individuals alike. Its versatility and familiarity have made it an essential part of data management, analysis, and calculations. However, as technology evolves and the demands of modern work change, so do the expectations for spreadsheet software. This article will explore the limitations of Excel and introduce you to alternatives that offer enhanced features and functionality, tailored to various use cases.


The limitations of Excel

While Microsoft Excel is a powerful and widely used spreadsheet application, it has some limitations and may not be the best tool for everyday data related tasks.

Here are some of the limitations of Excel:

  1. Limited data size: The number of rows and columns in a worksheet is limited, which can be insufficient for very large datasets.
  2. Performance issues: Excel can become slow and unresponsive when dealing with large datasets, complex calculations, or extensive use of formulas and functions. It may not be suitable for big data analysis.
  3. Lack of centralized data storage: Excel workbooks are typically stored on local machines or shared drives, which can lead to version control issues in collaborative environments. It lacks a centralized database for managing data.
  4. Data integrity: Excel lacks robust data validation and integrity features, making it prone to human errors and data inconsistencies, especially when multiple users are involved.
  5. Limited data transformation: Excel has limitation when it comes to complex data transformation and cleaning tasks, which may require more advanced tools like Python or R.
  6. Limited automation: Although Excel supports macros for automation, more advanced automation and scripting capabilities are available in programming languages like VBA (Visual Basic for Applications) which can be complex for some users.
  7. Security concerns: Excel files can be susceptible to security risks, especially if they contain sensitive or confidential information. Password protection and encryption features may not be sufficient.
  8. Limited collaboration: While Excel does offer collaboration features, they are not as robust as cloud-based collaboration tools, and real-time collaboration can be limited, especially in offline environments.
  9. Limited data types: Excel is primarily designed for numerical and text data. Handling other data types, like spatial or unstructured data can be challenging.
  10. Inadequate for some advanced statistical analysis: For advanced statistical analysis, specialized software may be more suitable like R or SAS.
  11. Learning curve: To make the use of Excel features fully, users need to possess adequate skills to create complex formulas and work on a sheet from scratch.


The benefits of spreadsheets

Spreadsheet software, such as Google Sheets, prioritizes collaboration. It enables multiple users to work simultaneously on the same document, whether in the cloud or on-premises. This real-time collaboration fosters teamwork and increases productivity.


Advanced features

One of the key advantages of spreadsheet software is their advanced feature set. These features often include:

  1. Data visualization: Create compelling charts, graphs, and dashboards to make data analysis more accessible.
  2. Automation: Automate repetitive tasks with scripting and macros, saving time and reducing errors.
  3. Integration: Seamlessly connect your spreadsheet with other software and services, enhancing your workflow.
  4. Customization: Spreadsheet software offers greater flexibility for customization. Tailor the tool to your specific needs by adding extensions, scripts, and integrations. This adaptability ensures you get the most out of your spreadsheet software.


What is spreadsheet software?

A spreadsheet software is a specialized tool designed to overcome Excel's limitations and offer unique features. These applications aim to provide users with enhanced collaboration, advanced features, and customization options, catering to modern data management needs.


Popular Excel alternatives

Google Sheets

Google Sheets is a cloud-based alternative to Excel, offering collaboration features that are hard to beat. It's accessible from any device with an internet connection, making it an excellent choice for teams spread across locations.


LibreOffice Calc

LibreOffice Calc is a free, open-source alternative that provides a familiar interface to Excel users. It's compatible with various file formats, making it easy to transition from Excel to LibreOffice Calc.



Airtable blurs the line between spreadsheet and database, making it a versatile and user-friendly tool. Its flexibility allows you to create customized databases that can serve various purposes, from project management to content planning.



Smartsheet is a project management-focused alternative that excels in collaborative capabilities. It offers project tracking, task management, and automation features, making it ideal for teams managing complex projects.


Considerations when choosing an alternative software


Consider the cost implications of using Excel compared to alternatives. While some spreadsheet software is free or offers free versions, others may require a subscription fee or one-time purchase. Consider your budget and the software’s value for that cost.



Consider whether the tool can import and export files seamlessly. This is important if you need to collaborate with the tool users or work on legacy files.


Features and functionality

Ensure that the alternative software offers the features and capabilities you require. Compare it with other tools in terms of spreadsheet functions, data analysis tools and charting capabilities.


Ease of use

Evaluate the user interface - does the software have a learning curve, or is it intuitive for you and your team to use?


Platform and accessibility

Check if the software is available for your preferred platform (Windows, macOS, Linux) and if it’s accessible via web and mobile apps for on- the-go access.



Consider whether the software can integrate with other tools and services that you use regularly, such as cloud storage, project management software, or data visualization tools.


Collaboration and sharing

Assess the software’s collaboration features, including real-time co-editing, commenting and sharing options.



Determine if the software allows for customization and the creation of templates, macros, and add-ins to tailor it to your specific needs.


Security and privacy

Examine the security features, data encryption, and privacy policies of the software, especially if you’re dealing with sensitive or confidential data.



Consider whether the alternative software can scale with your needs. Will it be suitable as your projects and data grow?



Test the software’s performance with the size of data sets and complexity of calculations that you anticipate.


Learning curve

Switching to a new spreadsheet software may come with a learning curve. Evaluate how quickly you and your team can adapt to the new tool and consider the availability of training resources and support.


Use cases

Microsoft Excel

Excel’s broad functionality make it suitable for a wide audience for creating reports, budgeting, data management, financial analysis, tracking expenses, generating invoices, and managing inventory. It is used to create complex financial models, performing calculations and analyzing large set of financial data. Excel is often taught in schools and universities as it helps to understand mathematical and statistical concepts. Excel can be a starting point for basic statistical data analysis. Excel is often used for small business bookkeeping, creating business plans and managing customer databases.


LibreOffice Calc

LibreOffice Calc is suitable for open-source enthusiasts, students and educators for creating assignments and grading and for organizations on limited budget. Technical and Engineering professionals can use LibreOffice Calc for creating technical documentation and reports. LibreOffice Calc can also run on older software and as it is open-source users can review its source code for security and privacy concerns. Some Government and Public Sector Agencies use LibreOffice Calc due to low cost and open standards compliance.


Google Sheets

Google Sheets is recommended for collaborative teams. It is suitable for smaller businesses, remote workers, freelancers, and non-profit organizations as it is cost-effective and easily accessible. It is a handy choice for individuals looking to quickly work with data. Small startups can user Google Sheets for initial financial planning, tracking expenses, and managing basic business data.



Airtable is suitable for small and medium sized businesses (SMBs) for project management, task tracking, and client management. Marketing and advertising agencies manage campaigns, track leads and create content calendars with this tool. Airtable offers the flexibility to adapt to ever-changing marketing needs. Educators, students and creative professionals also benefit from using this tool. The free tier is often suitable for many nonprofit organizations. Customer support teams use Airtable for tracking support tickets and measuring response times. Smaller healthcare and medical practices use Airtable for patients tracking, appointments scheduling and managing patients’ records.



IT professionals and software development teams use Smartsheet for tracking software development tasks, bug fixes, and IT projects. The construction and engineering industries benefit from Smartsheet’s project planning, progress tracking, and document management capabilities. Consultants and freelancers use Smartsheet to manage client projects, timelines, and budgets. Smartsheet is commonly used by project managers to plan and track projects, create Gantt charts, and to manage project timelines and resources.

Different alternatives cater to various use cases. Assess your specific requirements, such as data analysis, project management, or collaborative work, to determine which alternative aligns best with your needs.


Understanding ERP systems and their connection to spreadsheets

ERP systems are comprehensive software platforms designed to manage and integrate all the core processes of a business, from supply chain management to human resources, finance, and beyond. At the heart of these processes often lies the need for robust, versatile spreadsheet functionality.

Spreadsheets are pivotal in ERP systems for several reasons:

  1. Data management and analysis: ERPs handle vast amounts of data. Spreadsheets are a familiar and flexible way to view, manipulate, and analyze this data, making them an indispensable tool for many business professionals.
  2. Custom reporting and forecasting: While ERP systems offer various reporting tools, spreadsheets allow for customizable and ad hoc reports. They enable businesses to create tailored forecasts and financial models, which are crucial for strategic planning.
  3. User familiarity and flexibility: Many professionals are already familiar with spreadsheet software like Excel, making it easier to integrate with an ERP system. This familiarity reduces training time and increases adoption rates.
  4. Integration and automation: Advanced ERP systems integrate seamlessly with spreadsheets, enabling automation of data entry and updates, which significantly reduces manual work and the potential for errors.


Introducing Vault ERP: A new paradigm in spreadsheet integration

In this context, Vault ERP emerges as a powerful tool, particularly for those seeking advanced spreadsheet capabilities integrated within an ERP system. Unlike traditional ERP software that may offer limited spreadsheet functionalities or require complex integrations, Vault ERP is designed with spreadsheet versatility as a core feature.

Vault ERP stands out for its:

  • Seamless spreadsheet integration: It allows for smooth integration with various spreadsheet tools, ensuring that businesses can leverage their existing spreadsheets without the need to overhaul their current systems.
  • Enhanced data handling and analysis: Vault ERP supports complex data manipulations and analyses, making it a boon for companies that rely heavily on data-driven decision-making.
  • Customization and flexibility: Understanding that no two businesses are the same, Vault ERP offers high levels of customization, ensuring that it can cater to the unique needs of each organization.
  • User-friendly interface: With an intuitive design, it lowers the learning curve for new users, making the transition from traditional spreadsheets to a more integrated ERP solution smoother.


By bridging the gap between traditional spreadsheet tools and the holistic management capabilities of an ERP system, Vault ERP presents a compelling option for businesses looking to enhance their data management and analytical capabilities without sacrificing the familiarity and flexibility of spreadsheets.

Wondering what to do next? Discover the transformative power of Vault ERP for your company. Explore your options with our team and unlock a new level of efficiency thanks to seamless integration into your business processes.



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