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5 spreadsheet alternatives to boost resource management

Discover the limitations of spreadsheets and explore 5 spreadsheet alternatives for resource planning and forecasting.
January 17, 2024
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Atteq Ur Rahman

Spreadsheets have been the cornerstone of resource management and forecasting for decades, offering a versatile data analysis and planning platform. Their convenience and widespread use, however, should not overshadow the existence of robust alternatives that can bring greater efficiency and accuracy to your operations.

Each business is unique, with its own set of demands and workflows. Sometimes, spreadsheets might fall short and not provide all the capabilities a business requires. A specialized spreadsheet alternative addresses the limitations of spreadsheets by offering a range of tailored features and functionalities.

What are some worthwhile spreadsheet alternatives that will make resource management easier for you?

Let's dive in.

In this article:

  • What is resource planning and forecasting?
  • What are the limitations of using spreadsheets for resource planning and forecasting?
  • What are the benefits of using a spreadsheet alternative for resource planning and forecasting? 
  • Spreadsheet alternatives for resource planning
  • Ditch the spreadsheets and switch to Rocketlane
  • FAQs

What is resource planning and forecasting?

Resource planning and forecasting are vital aspects of project management. They involve efficiently allocating and utilizing available resources to meet project goals.

Resource planning is about figuring out what skills, tools, and materials are needed for a certain project, and deciding the best way to use them. Effective resource forecasting, on the other hand, involves predicting future resource needs based on historical data, market trends, and project requirements.

This allows for strategic resource allocation and highlights any potential resource shortages or blockages. While spreadsheets have traditionally been used for resource planning and forecasting, alternative software solutions are now available specifically designed for these tasks.

These alternatives offer advanced features like real-time collaboration and automated reporting, making resource management and forecasting more efficient and accurate.

What are the limitations of using spreadsheets for resource planning and forecasting?

Spreadsheets have long been the go-to tool for resource planning and forecasting due to their simplicity and familiarity. However, they come with their own set of limitations that make them less than ideal for these critical tasks. These limitations can lead to inaccurate forecasting and resource allocation, potentially costing businesses time and money.

Here are some reasons why spreadsheets are not ideal for your resource planning and forecasting needs.

1. Limited scope for automation

While spreadsheets can handle basic calculations and data entry, they fall short in automating processes.

Resource planning and forecasting involve numerous complex calculations and analyses, which can be time-consuming and prone to errors if done manually in spreadsheets. Moreover, as the size and complexity of the data increase, the manual effort required becomes overwhelming.

Any changes or updates to the data require manual intervention, leading to delays and potential inaccuracies. Ultimately, relying solely on spreadsheets for resource planning and forecasting results in inefficiency and hinders accurate decision-making.

That's where Rocketlane comes in. With Rocketlane Automation, you can create unlimited automated workflows spanning projects, phases, tasks, and forms throughout the entire delivery lifecycle. You can automate all your tedious tasks and streamline your resource planning process.

2. Limited scalability

As an organization grows and its operations become more complex, the sheer volume of data that needs to be managed increases exponentially.

With their limited capacity and manual input requirements, spreadsheets quickly become inefficient and prone to errors. They lack the ability to handle large datasets and the multiple complexities involved in resource planning.

As a result, relying on spreadsheets for forecasting and planning can hinder productivity and compromise accurate decision-making.

Organizations need more robust and scalable solutions that can easily adapt to their evolving resource needs and provide accurate and reliable forecasting capabilities.

3. Lack of centralized data

While spreadsheets allow users to input data from various sources, the information is often scattered across multiple files, making it difficult to track and manage. This lack of centralization can lead to errors, inconsistencies, and version control issues.

Moreover, sharing and collaborating on spreadsheets can be challenging, as there is no single source of truth. With a centralized resource planning and forecasting tool, businesses can ensure that all relevant data is easily accessible, up-to-date, and can be shared and collaborated upon seamlessly, increasing efficiency and accuracy in their planning processes.

4. Lack of version control

With multiple users editing the same spreadsheet, keeping track of changes and maintaining accuracy becomes difficult. Without proper version control, losing important data or overwriting information is easy. This can lead to discrepancies in resource allocation and forecasting, thereby complicating the decision-making process.

Besides, without version control, it's harder to collaborate effectively with team members, resulting in a disjointed and fragmented planning process.

However, dedicated resource planning and forecasting tools offer robust version control features, ensuring data integrity and providing a transparent overview of all changes made.

5. Inability to handle complex scenarios

While spreadsheets can be useful for basic calculations and organizing data, they have limitations when it comes to dealing with intricate scenarios. For instance, spreadsheets may struggle to accommodate multiple variables and interdependencies, leading to errors and inaccuracies in forecasts.

As the complexity of the scenario increases, manually updating and manipulating spreadsheets becomes time-consuming and prone to mistakes.

Resource planning and forecasting require advanced algorithms and sophisticated tools that can effortlessly handle complex calculations and scenarios. Unfortunately, spreadsheets often fall short of providing this capability.

6. Limited reporting capabilities

Spreadsheets may provide basic reporting functionalities but lack the advanced features necessary to create comprehensive reports.  They require manual input and manipulation of data, making them time-consuming and prone to errors.

Spreadsheets also lack the ability to generate real-time or easily updatable reports. This limitation hampers effective decision-making, as managers are unable to access accurate and timely information.

On the other hand, dedicated resource planning and forecasting tools offer a wide range of reporting capabilities, allowing businesses to make data-driven decisions efficiently.

Rocketlane's robust reporting features allow you to visualize your data in ways that spreadsheets simply can't. It uncovers crucial insights from your projects, enabling your organization to make data-driven decisions and optimize overall performance.

Benefits of using a spreadsheet alternative for resource planning and forecasting

As modern businesses continue to evolve in the face of rapid technological advancements, effective resource planning and forecasting have become important pillars in strategic business management.

Navigating the world of business intelligence, though, can be quite overwhelming. While widely used and popular, traditional spreadsheet software has shortcomings that might hinder businesses from achieving optimal efficiency and accuracy in their planning processes.

In such a scenario, spreadsheet alternatives are emerging as an increasingly favorable option, offering myriad benefits from streamlined operations to real-time data interactions.

Here are some benefits of using spreadsheet alternatives for resource planning and forecasting.

1. Enhanced collaboration

Collaboration is crucial for success in the dynamic world of resource planning and forecasting. Using a spreadsheet alternative for these tasks brings with it the benefit of enhanced collaboration.

Traditional spreadsheets often suffer from version control issues and limited accessibility, making it difficult for multiple team members to work together seamlessly.

On the other hand, a PSA tool provides real-time collaboration features that allow team members to work simultaneously on the same documents.

2. Data centralization

With traditional spreadsheets, data is often scattered across multiple files and can be difficult to locate and update. However, a project management tool offers a centralized database where all relevant data is stored in a single location. This not only enhances data consistency and accuracy but also makes it easier to track and analyze information.

With data centralization, users can access real-time updates, collaborate seamlessly, and make informed decisions based on up-to-date and reliable data. This streamlines the resource planning and forecasting process, ultimately improving efficiency and accuracy in decision-making.

3. Automation and efficiency

Automation and efficiency are two major benefits of using a spreadsheet alternative for resource planning and forecasting. Traditional spreadsheet software requires manual data entry and manipulation, which can be time-consuming and prone to human errors.

However, with a PSA tool that offers automation features, you can save time and effort. These tools allow you to streamline repetitive tasks, such as updating data, generating reports, and performing calculations.

Centralizing your planning and forecasting processes in one platform also helps you improve collaboration and ensure data consistency across teams. This increased efficiency saves valuable time and enables you to make informed decisions based on accurate and up-to-date information.

4. Scalability

Unlike traditional spreadsheets, which often have limitations on the amount of data they can handle, a project management tool offers the ability to scale up as your business grows.

You can easily add new resources, projects, or departments without worrying about hitting any performance walls.

With a spreadsheet alternative, you can also collaborate with your team in real time, making managing and allocating resources easier.

5. Advanced analytics

Analyzing large volumes of data with traditional spreadsheets can be time-consuming and complex. PSA tools often offer advanced analytics capabilities that allow for more sophisticated data analysis. These tools can help businesses uncover valuable insights from their resource planning and forecasting data, enabling better decision-making and strategic planning.

Whether it's identifying trends, detecting patterns, or conducting predictive modeling, advanced analytics helps businesses gain a deeper understanding of their resources and make data-driven decisions that drive success.

6. Integration with other tools

Integration with other tools is a key advantage of using a spreadsheet alternative for resource planning and forecasting. PSA tools often offer seamless integration with popular software applications like project management tools, CRM systems, and accounting software.

This integration allows for the easy transfer of data between different systems, eliminating the need for manual data entry and reducing errors.

Businesses can streamline their workflows, improve collaboration between teams, and gain a holistic view of their resources and finances by leveraging the power of integration. This ultimately leads to more accurate forecasting, better decision-making, and improved efficiency in resource planning.

7. Security and data protection

Many project management tools offer advanced security features to ensure the safety and confidentiality of your data. These tools provide secure cloud-based storage, encrypted communications, and user access controls.

You can protect your sensitive information from unauthorized access and potential data breaches with the help of these features. Project management tools also have built-in backup and recovery options, ensuring your data is safe even in the event of a system failure.

8. Auditability and traceability

While spreadsheets may offer some level of tracking, using a spreadsheet alternative can greatly enhance these capabilities.

With a specialized PSA tool, you can easily create an audit trail of changes made, providing a transparent view of each modification and who made it. This level of accountability ensures accuracy and eliminates any ambiguity.

A PSA tool also allows for detailed traceability, allowing you to link data and dependencies across multiple projects or departments. This makes it simpler to track the origin of information and understand its impact on the overall planning process.

Spreadsheet alternatives for resource planning

Spreadsheet alternatives have emerged as more efficient and reliable options for resource planning. While spreadsheets have long been used for this purpose, they can become cumbersome and prone to errors, especially when dealing with large datasets. Enter modern alternatives like resource planning software and project management tools.

These tools offer intuitive interfaces, collaborative features, and automation capabilities that streamline the resource planning process. These spreadsheet alternatives allow users to easily track and allocate resources, set project timelines, and manage team tasks.

Here are a few spreadsheet alternatives to enhance your resource planning.

1. Rocketlane

Rocketlane is a cloud-based PSA tool that provides an effective alternative to traditional spreadsheets for resource planning. With Rocketlane, businesses can streamline their project management, resource allocation, and collaboration processes in a single, cohesive platform.

Here are some compelling features that trump spreadsheets, hands down.

1. Centralized resource management

Rocketlane emerges as the best PSA tool for streamlining resource management. With Rocketlane, you can effortlessly centralize and manage all your resources from one intuitive platform.

Rocketlane offers a user-friendly interface that allows you to assign resources and track progress in real-time. The software also provides comprehensive visibility into resource availability and utilization, enabling you to make informed decisions and avoid constraints.

Centralized resource management with Rocketlane ensures efficient utilization of your team members, leading to enhanced productivity and successful project outcomes.

2. Real-time collaboration

With Rocketlane, teams can work together seamlessly, eliminating the need for multiple versions of spreadsheets and endless email threads.

Rocketlane's real-time collaboration feature allows team members to view and edit the same resource plan simultaneously, ensuring everyone is on the same page.

Team leaders can easily assign tasks, make updates, and track progress in real-time, fostering transparency and accountability. This way, any changes made are instantly reflected, making it easier to adapt to evolving project requirements.

3. Automated workflows

Rocketlane automation enables you to streamline your processes and eliminate manual tasks. You can automate repetitive actions, saving you time and effort. Set up triggers and actions to automatically assign tasks, notify team members, and update project timelines.

You can also create custom workflows tailored to your organization's specific needs. Rocketlane's automated workflows ensure that everyone is on the same page, reducing the risk of miscommunication and errors.

Rocketlane offers automated workflows that streamline resource allocation and forecasting processes. This saves time and reduces human error by automating repetitive tasks.

4. Resource AI

Rocketlane's Resource AI automates end-to-end resource allocation with predefined goals for project types. This streamlined approach ensures standardization and repeatability, reducing the risk of over-allocation or resource wastage.

The auto-allocation feature intelligently analyzes predefined goals for various project types and optimizes resource assignments based on factors such as utilization rates, time-offs, regional requirements, and skill sets.

With the flexibility to optimize for workload balance or profitability, Resource AI aligns objectives with crucial factors like utilization rates, time-offs, regional requirements, and skill sets. Witness real-time impacts of decisions on earnings, costs, and profit margins, and easily readjust utilization for optimal outcomes.

5. Customizable dashboards

Rocketlane's dashboards are designed to provide a comprehensive view of all your resources, allowing you to track and manage them for optimal efficiency easily.

These customizable dashboards can be tailored to suit your specific needs and preferences. You have the freedom to choose the metrics and KPIs that are most relevant to your resource management and forecasting goals.

With drag-and-drop widgets, you can easily rearrange the components on your dashboard, ensuring the information you need is always at your fingertips. This flexibility allows you to create a personalized dashboard that suits your workflow and improves your productivity.

Rocketlane's customizable dashboards enable you to visualize data, identify patterns, and make data-driven decisions. With clear, intuitive visualizations, you can easily spot bottlenecks, allocate resources effectively, and forecast future needs. Say goodbye to complex spreadsheets and hello to an intuitive, user-friendly resource management solution.

6. Advanced reporting and analytics

Rocketlane takes resource planning to the next level with its advanced reporting and analytics features. You no longer need to sift through spreadsheets to gather data manually. With Rocketlane, you can generate comprehensive reports with just a few clicks.

Track team performance, project progress, and resource utilization with ease. Rocketlane's intuitive dashboard provides real-time insights into your team's productivity and allows you to make data-driven decisions.

What sets Rocketlane apart is its customizable reporting capabilities. Tailor reports to your specific needs, whether it's time tracking, budget analysis, or task dependencies. With Rocketlane's powerful analytics, you can effectively measure and analyze your team's performance to drive continuous improvement.

Rocketlane offers a tier-based pricing model, ranging from $19 to $99, with features like centralized resource management, customizable dashboards, and much more.

Say goodbye to the headaches and hello to efficiency! Take the leap and join the Rocketlane revolution today.

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2. Runn 

Runn is a comprehensive resource management and forecasting tool that offers a compelling alternative to traditional spreadsheets. From a free version to an enterprise version, Run provides small to mid-sized businesses with an affordable solution for efficient resource management.

This intuitive platform allows you to easily allocate and track resources, forecast project timelines and budgets, and collaborate with team members in real time.

Runn offers features such as customizable dashboards, visual resource planning, project profitability analysis, and the ability to generate insightful reports effortlessly.

One drawback, however, is that they have very few integrations with other third-party applications, limiting the flexibility and convenience of their workflows. This may lead to additional manual work, which can be error-prone and time-consuming for team members.

3. Float 

Float is a popular alternative to spreadsheets for resource management and forecasting. With its user-friendly interface and powerful features, Float offers a seamless experience for scheduling and managing your team's time.

One of the standout features of Float is its intuitive drag-and-drop interface, which allows you to assign and reassign tasks to your team members easily.

On top of that, Float provides real-time updates, enabling you to stay on top of project progress and make informed decisions.

With pricing plans starting as low as $6, Float offers a range of plans to suit different business needs. Float offers a cost-effective solution with comprehensive resource management and forecasting features.

The downside of using Float is its limited ability to assign varying working hours to team members across different time periods.

It requires users to create individual entries for each segment, becoming tiresome and time-consuming - especially on weekly project plans. This may complicate and slow down resource management, especially for teams with flexible schedules.

4. Paymo 

With a user-friendly interface and robust features, Paymo helps businesses streamline their project management processes. Their features include time tracking, task management, resource scheduling, and budget tracking, empowering teams to collaborate and stay organized easily.

Paymo also provides insightful reports and analytics to help businesses make data-driven decisions.

They also offer a mobile application that makes project management incredibly convenient. However, it's worth noting that their mobile application could be more robust. While it provides great convenience, a few functions are only accessible through the desktop version.

They offer free, starter, small office, and business plans, which makes it a great tool for businesses of all sizes. With its affordable price range and comprehensive features, Paymo is worth considering for resource management and forecasting needs.

5. Kantata 

Kantata is a versatile tool that provides a viable alternative to traditional spreadsheets for resource management and forecasting. Its user-friendly interface and powerful features streamline the process of organizing and optimizing resources.

However, integrating Kantata with CRMs like Hubspot is not very robust. It can be a bit challenging to automate project creation in Kantata based on specific HubSpot deal milestones for resource forecasting, and there might be a need for some manual clean-up.

Kantata offers different pricing plans to cater to the specific needs of businesses, ranging from $15 to $200 per user per month. It allows you to create dynamic Gantt charts, set milestones, and track progress effortlessly.

Moreover, the collaborative features of Kantata enable team members to work together seamlessly, sharing real-time updates and ensuring transparency.

Ditch the spreadsheets and switch to Rocketlane

If you're tired of the limitations and frustrations of spreadsheets, it's time to ditch them and make the switch to Rocketlane.

With Rocketlane, you can bid farewell to the complexities of spreadsheets and say hello to a seamless, intuitive interface that simplifies your workflow. This powerful tool allows you to effortlessly manage projects, assign tasks, track deadlines, and communicate with your team, all in one place.

Forget about the hassle of manually updating formulas or dealing with endless rows and columns. Ditch the spreadsheets and embrace Rocketlane for a more efficient and organized work life.

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FAQs

1. Why would I need a spreadsheet alternative for resource management and forecasting?

A purpose-built tool like Rocketlane offers more specialized functionalities specifically designed for resource management and forecasting, making it easier to track and allocate resources, generate accurate forecasts, and analyze data in a more efficient manner.

2. What features should I look for in a spreadsheet alternative for resource management and forecasting?

Some key features to consider are resource allocation and tracking, forecasting and budgeting capabilities, data visualization options, collaboration and sharing features, integration with other tools or systems, and customizable reporting.

3. Can a spreadsheet alternative handle large amounts of data?

Yes, most spreadsheet alternatives, like PSA tools and project management tools, are designed to handle large amounts of data and offer efficient processing capabilities for resource management and forecasting purposes.

4. How can a spreadsheet alternative improve resource management and forecasting accuracy?

A spreadsheet alternative, like the PSA tool and resource management tool, allows for more automated and streamlined processes, reducing the likelihood of errors or inconsistencies in resource management and forecasting. Additionally, advanced features like data analysis and visualization help to identify patterns and trends for more accurate predictions.

5. Can a spreadsheet alternative integrate with other tools I use for resource management and forecasting?

Many spreadsheet alternatives offer integration with other tools, such as project management software, CRM systems, or financial management platforms, to streamline data exchange and enhance overall resource management and forecasting workflows.

6. How scalable are spreadsheet alternatives for resource management and forecasting?

Spreadsheet alternatives are designed to be scalable, accommodating the needs of different businesses and resource management scenarios. They can handle growth in data volume, user numbers, and complexity, ensuring long-term usability and effectiveness.

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Madhushree Menon
Content Marketer @ Rocketlane

Madhushree Menon is a content marketer at Rocketlane. She mainly focuses on SEO blogs, but also dabbles in other forms of content. A true Hufflepuff at heart, she loves to binge-watch anime, explore new cuisines, and learn new languages.

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