Microsoft Project vs Excel : In-Depth Comparison

microsoft project vs excel

Microsoft Project and Excel are two very popular business software built for two very different purposes. If you’re using Excel for project management, then you might be using the wrong tool for your business. Let us take a look at the detailed comparison of Microsoft Project vs Excel to find out which is the best project management software for your business.


Microsoft Project vs Excel

Here’s a step-by-step comparison of Microsoft Project vs Excel



Microsoft Project is a full-fledged project management software built to manage simple to complex projects for businesses of any size and industry.

Excel is a spreadsheet software used to store, analyze and report data. It allows you to automate many of its features using formulas and macros. However, it is primarily a data analysis software.



Microsoft Project’s features are focused on project management such as:

  • Gantt charts
  • Timesheets
  • Budgeting
  • Scheduling
  • Resource management
  • Portfolio management
  • Team collaboration
  • Change management

Here’s the complete list of features offered by Microsoft Project.

Excel, on the other hand, offers features that support data analysis and reporting, such as:

  • Formulas
  • Pivot tables
  • File sharing
  • Macros
  • Collaborative authoring
  • and many more


Supported Platforms

Microsoft Project is available as cloud version as well on-premise one. Excel is available as a desktop application, or a cloud-based version as a part of Office 365. Their cloud versions work well on all major web browsers in Windows, Linux and Mac. They both offer mobile apps for iOS and Android.


Setup and Ease of Use

Microsoft Project requires IT assistance for setup, and an experienced project manager to lead the implementation. Excel doesn’t require any setup and anyone use it just by opening the desktop application, or signing into Office 365. Installing MS Office on your desktop might require IT assistance, however.



The cloud version of Microsoft Project is priced at $7/user/month and its on-premise version requires a on-time payment of $589.99/user.

Excel desktop-version costs $129 and the cloud-version costs around $10/month for business-version and $100/year for home-version.



Both Microsoft Project and Excel integrate seamlessly with other Microsoft Products such as Skype, One Drive, Outlook and Office 365. Neither of them support third-party integrations.


Customer Support

Microsoft Project and Excel offer customer support via discussion forums, phone & live chat.



There are plenty of alternatives to Microsoft Project – like Zoho projects, Asana, that are easier to use and affordable.

Similarly, there are a few alternatives to Excel – like Libre Office, Open Office that are free. However, they are not as feature-rich or flexible as Excel.


Conclusion – Microsoft Project vs Excel

Microsoft Project is a great project management software that can simplify your work a lot. Don’t use Excel to manage your projects. It’s a bad idea. Many of the features that you build from ground up (such as Gantt charts, project reports, timelines, scheduler, etc) are available out-of-the-box in MS Project and other similar tools. Not to mention the constantly running Excel calculations that freeze your laptop. Excel is great for data analysis and reporting. Use a proper project management tool for your projects.


About Sreeram Sreenivasan

Sreeram Sreenivasan is the Founder of Ubiq, a business dashboard & reporting platform for small & medium businesses. Ubiq makes it easy to build business dashboards & reports for your business. Try it for free today!