What are Excel alternatives? (11 best software to use)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 11 April 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Excel is one of the most popular business software choices that companies of all sizes use. If you're responsible for choosing software that can help your employer organise, manage, analyse, forecast and visualise data, there are many alternatives to Excel that you can consider. Understanding key functionalities of those alternative applications can help you make sure the programme you choose meets the company's requirements. In this article, we answer, 'What are Excel alternatives?' and list 11 alternatives to Excel to consider for data organisation and management.

Related: Advanced Excel Skills Guide

What are Excel alternatives?

If your department or employer has specific software requirements, understanding the answer to, 'What are Excel alternatives?' can help you decide which spreadsheet tool to use to meet those requirements. Choosing alternative tools over Excel can help you make sure the company's documents and files are more secure. They're also helpful when you want to make it easier for a remote team to collaborate on one document. What's great about these alternatives are their additional functions, like the possibility to integrate them with your project management software.

Related: How to highlight Excel skills on your CV

Best alternatives to Excel

Finding the best alternative to Excel that meets your workplace's requirements can take some time, but it's necessary to test different applications to see if they work well with the company's projects. Here are some of the most popular Excel alternatives to consider:

1. Sheets

Sheets are possibly the most popular online alternative to Excel. You can access it directly through your browser and store your spreadsheets in a cloud, which makes this a great tool for larger teams that want to collaborate on creating or managing one file. Similarly to the desktop version of Excel, Sheets has many timesaving features, including built-in formulas and graphs. What's great about it is that it's available for free to anyone, which can be a significant advantage for smaller companies with limited budgets. It even comes with a template library, which simplifies the process of creating spreadsheets.

Related: How to work collaboratively

2. Microsoft Office Excel Online

Excel Online is another reliable alternative to the desktop version of Excel. It has real-time collaboration capabilities, so teams can work simultaneously on one document from different locations. This browser app is available for free to anyone with a Microsoft account. What's great about this tool is that it even allows you to upload and view traditional Excel files online.

Related: 6 Microsoft Office skills to include on a CV (with tips)

3. Smartsheet

Smartsheet is a useful spreadsheet tool that provides you with additional project management features. You can use it to create Gantt charts, share documents with your team and track the progress of the entire project team. An important advantage of Smartsheet is that it's cheaper than Excel and allows you to choose a 'per user' personal or business subscription.

4. LibreOffice

LibreOffice is a free, open-source productivity tool that can appeal to businesses of various sizes. Although it doesn't feature all the essential functionalities of advanced spreadsheet software, it's great for growing businesses that want to use basic, reliable tools without investing in a subscription. LibreOffice gives you access to several applications, including:

  • Writer, which is a word processor.

  • Calc, which is a spreadsheet tool.

  • Impress, which you can use to create digital presentations.

  • Draw, which you can use to create vector graphics and flowcharts.

  • Base, which you can use to create and manage databases.

  • Math, which you can use to edit mathematical formulas.

Related: A guide to the different types of charts and graphs

5. WPS Office

WPS Office is a lightweight software package that you can use to create spreadsheets. It also has additional functionalities, including applications for creating text documents, visual presentations and PDF files. This tool is available to download and test for free, after which you can decide to purchase the premium version. It's highly accessible and compatible, which means you can create and edit documents using any device, including your smartphone. WPS Office then automatically synchronises your files across all devices for you.

6. Quip

Quip is a powerful collaborative spreadsheet tool that can help you manage data-intensive projects. Its primary goal is to help sales teams accelerate business in real-time, which means this may be a great tool for your team if you're working on sales, marketing or promotional strategies. Quip even offers a Salesforce integration, which means you can monitor your Salesforce data directly via Quip's dashboard. A useful additional function of Quip is the chat feature that allows you to message your team without closing the app's window.

7. Apache OpenOffice Calc

Apache OpenOffice is a popular open-source office software that has many traditional Excel functionalities. It's compatible with many other major office suites and is free to download, use and even distribute. Apache OpenOffice's Calc tool serves as an advanced spreadsheet tool that you can use to calculate, analyse and visualise data sets.

8. Airtable

Airtable is a cloud collaboration service that provides you with powerful spreadsheet and database functionalities. Companies can use it to manage their workload, track and organise inventories and plan events or campaigns. It's extremely versatile and easy to use even for less experienced users. In some cases, Airtable may even be better than Excel. For instance, this can happen when your primary goal is to help your employer structure data using spreadsheets.

9. Numbers

Numbers is a spreadsheet tool widely available on every device with macOS or iOS operating systems. It's advanced software that you can use to perform high-quality data analysis, create graphs or charts and use formulas to organise data. Numbers have an intuitive interface and put emphasis on making spreadsheets look aesthetically pleasing, which is a great thing for visual learners. It's highly compatible with the original Excel tool, which means that you can save a file using Numbers and easily open it on another device that runs Excel.

10. Calligra Sheets

Calligra Sheets is a free interactive spreadsheet tool that provides you with many standard Excel functionalities. It serves as a great app for calculations and spreadsheet creation, including business expenditure or employee working hours. It comes with a large template library and a list of pre-built formulas, which simplify work and help you save time when creating files.

11. ThinkFree Office

ThinkFree Office is a browser-based tool that comes with various functionalities, such as a word processor, spreadsheets and presentation software. It's compatible with many office suites, including Microsoft Office. What's great about ThinkFree is that it's easily accessible on various types of devices, including on mobile.

How to choose the right Excel alternative for your team

Deciding which Excel alternative to use is a challenging thing when you're working in a larger team and your employer requires the software to have specific functionalities. Here are a few steps to take to make that decision:

1. Determine the company's budget

There are many Excel alternatives that are free to use, even for larger teams and business clients. If your employer requires that the tool you choose has very specific functionalities, you may want to consider paid tools. Determining the company's software budget is essential, as it helps you make sure the organisation has the money to spend on an effective and reliable Excel alternative. If the employer's budget is limited, you may consider choosing a subscription-based tool that calculates the subscription rate based on the number of users.

2. Discuss your team's needs

After you make sure you understand the employer's requirements regarding spreadsheet software, it's necessary to discuss your team's or colleagues' software needs. For example, they may prefer using a tool that has a built-in chat tool, which simplifies communication and collaboration. It's also important to make sure they're familiar with basic Excel functionalities.

3. Make sure it's compatible with other tools

Before making the final decision on which Excel alternative to use, make a list of other digital tools that the company uses. This way, you can quickly analyse and check if the new software is compatible with each of these tools. This is an important step to take, as compatibility is an important factor that can make your team's work less time-consuming.

4. Provide software training to your team

If there's someone on your team who usually struggles with learning new software, you may consider offering them on-the-job training to prepare them to switch to an Excel alternative. Consider asking them how comfortable they are with the idea of using a new tool. You may also consider creating a PDF guide that you'd share with the entire team, just to make sure they have access to the documentation that allows them to get to know the tool.

Please note that none of the companies mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.

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