In this Microsoft Project vs Smartsheet comparison post, we'll analyze two of the most popular project management solutions on the market today.
We'll review their features and functionality to determine which one would be the best fit for your team.
So, if you want to get to know the features, pros, cons, and pricing of each tool - let’s dig in!
What is the difference between Microsoft Project and Smartsheet?
The main difference between Smartsheet and Microsoft Project is that Smartsheet is a spreadsheet-style project management solution for businesses of all sizes, while Microsoft Project is an enterprise project management software for medium to large-sized organizations. Smartsheet integrates well with other applications, while Microsoft Project only connects with Microsoft apps.
Smartsheet has robust automation tools, many integration options, and communication and collaboration features. Microsoft Project supports multiple project management methodologies, lets you view your projects in various views (Grid, Kanban, and Gantt), and offers advanced features like portfolio management, Demand management, and Enterprise resource planning and management.
Another difference is that Smartsheet comes with built-in automation features, while Microsoft Project doesn't. Microsoft Project has built-in resource management capabilities, while Smartsheet only has this functionality as an add-on.
If you care about working on the go, you might be interested to know that Smartsheet has a mobile app for iOS and Android, while MS Project lacks this feature.
Overall, as a very flexible and customizable work management tool, Smartsheet can be a top-notch solution for project management, inventory management, budget tracking, expense categorization, campaign tracking, and more. MS Project can help project managers plan projects, assign resources to tasks, create project schedules, manage the budget, analyze workloads, and track performance.
We have a separate Smartsheet review that analyzes the inner workings of the software in greater detail. We’ve also created an extensive Microsoft Project review that walks you through the key features of the software, along with its pros and cons.
Microsoft Project vs Smartsheet comparison chart
Before we dive into a detailed Smartsheets vs MS Project comparison, let’s briefly see how similar or different the two software solutions are in terms of plans, ease of use, and features.
No, only a 30-day free trial
No, only a 30-day free trial
Chat and phone support for all users
Phone support for Enterprise plan users; professional support available as an add-on; chat support for questions related to plans and pricing
Knowledgebase & learning
Self-help resources, community forum, Dev center
Tutorials, help articles, webinars, community forum, Smartsheet University
Ease of use
Microsoft Project vs Smartsheet pricing
Microsoft Project has three monthly plans for its cloud-based software and three one-time plans for its on-premise solutions. The cloud-based plans start at $10/user/month for the Project Plan 1 that comes with features like Gantt charts, Kanban boards, collaboration and communication, project planning and scheduling, and reporting.
The Project Plan 3 starts at $30/user/month and adds features like resource management and a desktop app. If you can afford $55/user/month for the Project Plan 5 monthly plan, you'll get access to advanced capabilities like project portfolio selection and optimization and Enterprise resource planning and management.
Smartsheet has three monthly plans, starting at $7/user/month for the Pro plan. You'll find features like a Kanban board, Gantt chart, unlimited sheets, 250 automations per month, dashboards, reports, and integrations.
The Business plan that costs $25/user/month opens the door to functionality like unlimited automations, PowerBI integration, document builder, and proofing. The Enterprise plan offers more advanced security, integration, and reporting features.
Microsoft Project and Smartsheet have similar pricing plans, with Microsoft's cheapest plan starting at $10/user/month and Smartsheet at $7. Microsoft Project has a slight lead here as it also offers on-premise solutions.
Smartsheet vs Microsoft Project free versions
Smartsheet and Microsoft Project don’t have a free version of their software. Each company has a free 30-day trial.
This round is a tie as neither one of the tools has a free plan.
You can reach customer support at Microsoft Project via chat and phone. Phone support is available M-F from 6:00 AM to 6:00 PM Pacific Time. There's no email support.
Smartsheet offers phone support only to users of the Enterprise plan. Professional support is also available as an add-on. All users can reach customer support via chat for questions related to plans and pricing.
Microsoft Project has a slight lead here as it offers phone support to all users.
Knowledgebase & learning
Microsoft offers self-help resources where you can find answers to commonly asked questions about Project. There's also expensive documentation for admins and IT Professionals. The Dev Center is where you can get documentation, code samples, and all the latest developer community news. The community forum is a great place to discuss the latest Project news, updates, and best practices.
Smartsheet has a learning center where you can find all kinds of learning resources, including tutorials, help articles, and webinars. There’s also the Smartsheet community forum where you can ask a question, learn best practices, and more. The Smartsheet University is available only to users of the Enterprise plan, but it’s also available as an add-on.
Smartsheet wins this round with its Smartsheet University.
Microsoft Project or Smartsheet for ease of use?
If you think you can sign up for MS Project and start managing your projects the following day, you would be mistaken. The software has a steep learning curve, and only experienced professionals with a good grasp of the project management concepts can find their way around. Onboarding your team might take several days, so be prepared to invest in some initial training.
Smartsheet is not the easiest software either. The interface looks very outdated and isn't user-friendly. As such, you may need help with charting and analyzing data.
Although both tools have a steep learning curve, MS Project is more heavyweight, and as such, it’s more difficult to use than Smartsheet.
Microsoft Project isn't the easiest software to use. You must have a solid knowledge of project management concepts to understand what's going on in the interface. The robustness of the app and its complexity make it a good choice for experienced professionals. If you need to work on the go, you'll be disappointed to hear that Project doesn't have a mobile app.
Another downside is the poor in-app communication features. If you want to message a teammate quickly, you must connect MS Project with another tool like Microsoft Teams or Skype. MS Project doesn't integrate with other business tools outside of the Microsoft family. You might also be disappointed to hear it also doesn't connect with Zapier either.
Although Smartsheet is very powerful software, its UI looks very outdated. The software has a steep learning curve, so be ready to invest some time in onboarding your team. Another downside is that you need to purchase separate add-ons for time tracking and resource management.
Although Smartsheet lets you view your data in Kanban boards, if you prefer working with an agile methodology, you're better off with a tool that does Kanban and Scrum boards better, like Asana or Jira. Smartsheet's strength is its spreadsheet view.
Both software solutions come with some limitations. We call this round a tie.
Smartsheet vs Microsoft Project features & functionality
Now that we’ve compared Smartsheets vs Microsoft Project in terms of pricing, free plans, customer service, and ease of use, it’s time to see how they stack up against each other in features and functionality.
Smartsheet vs Microsoft Project online versions
MS Project is available as a cloud-based SaaS software that works on a monthly subscription. Supported browsers include Edge, Firefox, Safari, and Google Chrome.
Smartsheet’s cloud-based software works on the following browsers: Chrome, Firefox, Microsoft Edge, and Safari.
This round is a tie as both platforms have online versions that can be accessed via different browsers.
Microsoft Project vs Smartsheet desktop versions
Microsoft Project has a desktop version for Windows but not for Mac. Smartsheet doesn't have any desktop apps, only a cloud-based version.
MS Project is the winner as it has a desktop version for Windows. Smartsheet is only available online.
Project and task management
The good thing about MS Project is that it supports multiple project management methodologies, including Scrum, Kanban, and custom workflows. It can be a fantastic tool for agile project management, waterfall project management, and hybrid methodologies. Tasks in Microsoft Project can have assignees, deadlines, and more.
The Projects feature supports task dependencies and subtasks that can be helpful for more complex projects. In terms of visualization, you can view your tasks in various views, including grid, Kanban, and Timeline view. There’s also a “timesheet submission” feature that team members can use to track their working hours.
Smartsheet is a project management software based on spreadsheets. The software lets you plan projects and tasks for team members through customized spreadsheets. For example, you can easily create projects and break them down into tasks.
You can associate tasks with a department, assign them to people, add due dates and categories, add completion status, divide them into subtasks, and more. You can visualize your tasks in multiple different views, including grid, Kanban, Gantt chart, and calendar view.
In addition, the software lets you create dependencies between tasks and set up recurring tasks to ensure nothing falls through the cracks. And if you don't want to fill in the details in the spreadsheets yourself, you can always use a template. Time tracking is available as an add-on as part of the resource management functionality.
MS Project wins by a hair simply because it has a time-tracking functionality included in all plans. Time tracking in Smartsheet is only available as a paid add-on.
Smartsheet vs MS project Integrations
Microsoft Project is part of the Office 365 Suite, and as such, it integrates seamlessly with other Microsoft apps, like Teams, Power BI, OneNote, and others.
Smartsheet integrates with a range of tools, including Slack, Google Apps, Dropbox, Amazon Web Services, Salesforce, DocuSign, Microsoft Teams, and more. It also connects to thousands of other apps via Zapier.
Smartsheet wins in this category as it’s more capable in terms of integrations. MS Project doesn't play well with apps outside the Microsoft universe.
A note on Smartsheet Microsoft Project integration
Unfortunately, there’s no Microsoft Project Smartsheet integration available at this time. But if you want to export Smartsheet to MS Project, you certainly can. Any sheet that includes a Gantt chart can easily be exported to Microsoft Project format.
Smartsheet or Microsoft Project for automation
MS Project doesn’t come with built-in automation features. You can use the Project Service Automation add-in to include this functionality.
Smartsheet has a drag-and-drop automation builder that lets you build automations with ease. The automations work on basic logic, conditional statements, and triggers. You can automate things like alerts and notifications, reminders, approval requests, assignments, and more.
Users of the Pro plan get 250 automations per month, while the users of the Business and Enterprise plans get unlimited automations.
We’ll yield this round to Smartsheet as it comes with a good deal of built-in automation features.
Collaboration and communication
MS Project lets you collaborate with team members via comments. You can also modify user access by assigning roles. There's no built-in chat, but the software integrates well with Microsoft Teams.
Smartsheet has some collaboration tools. You can share items individually or share workspaces. You can communicate via comments on tasks and add attachments. You can intake information with dynamic forms and automate alerts, reminders, and requests.
Smartsheet also has a neat Conversations feature that lets you and your team manage and track critical communication in real-time. Conversations can be recorded at the row level, the sheet level, or the workspace level.
You can mention team members, and they can reply to @mentions from their email. Everyone with access to the sheet can follow along, view, or reply to comments.
Smartsheets is the winner in this round, as it has a solid built-in Communications feature that's available to users of all plans.
Is Microsoft Project better than Smartsheet? Key takeaways
Microsoft Project is indisputably one of the most powerful project management solutions on the market today. But being a powerful software doesn’t make it a better option than Smartsheet. Everything will depend on your business needs and company size.
What do we mean by that?
It's simple! MS Project might be a great option if you're a large enterprise that needs a way to manage complex projects at scale. But if you’re a small business that needs a more beginner-friendly option with a selected few features, there are better tools for you.
Smartsheet can be a smart choice if you already have experience using spreadsheets to manage your projects. If tools like Microsoft Excel and Google Sheets are too limited for your needs, then Smartsheet can be a fantastic upgrade.
If you want to compare project management tools like Monday.com and Wrike against Smartsheet and MS Project, we have a roundup post that lists the best 71 project management tools.