Can You Manage A Project Effectively With Excel?

January 22, 2020
Can You Manage A Project Effectively With Excel?

Can You Manage A Project Effectively With Excel?

Many companies have traditionally used Excel for project management and, as a result, see no need to commit to specialist software.

Sticking with what you know is comfortable and does have some benefits:

  • Cost: Excel is included with Microsoft Office packages
  • It can be stored on a shared drive, so storage is local and accessible for staff
  • Most people have a basic knowledge of how to use it

However, there are so many restrictions to using Excel that project management and reporting can only be executed to the bare minimum, diminishing their value significantly and resulting in losses of opportunity and income for the user.

Reliant On Manual Updates

Office-staff need to manually update the spreadsheet using information from field teams, causing a lag in information. This lag means that vital project progress information is often out-of-date, with project management teams making decisions based on inaccurate information.

This poor communication causes delays and mistakes. A real-time overview using live project data, by contrast, gives everyone the information they need to make proactive decisions.


This process of maintaining an excel file by manually inputting fields, formulas and duplicating information from the site is extremely time-consuming for skilled staff who should be focusing elsewhere.

The extra cost of project management software is off-set by factors such as the massive amounts of time saved, focusing on delivering the project itself and the savings resulting from improved data analysis.

Not User-friendly

It can be difficult to find a specific field or value in huge rows of data and you can’t easily track changes or updates, making it difficult to liaise with others, monitor trends or notice amends to budget or plan. Particularly for staff working on-site with a mobile or tablet. Excel simply isn’t built for this use and therefore is entirely inefficient.

Non-standardized Templates

The lack of a standardized template means that everyone’s reports, budgets and schedules could be laid out differently. This makes it very difficult to compare different sheets and identify trends, anomalies or issues. A standardized template that everyone is familiar with, is interactive and highlights relevant issues makes it easy to analyse large data sets and compare different projects.

Insecure Data

Anyone with access to your shared drive could change key formulas or erase data in your Excel project sheet, meaning that valuable and vital data could be lost to human error. Someone must take responsibility for the security of the document, but this limits how other people can use it. A specialised project management dashboard can apply different user permissions and stores data securely to remove any risks.

That’s Where Raildiary Comes In…

Raildiary’s dashboards and reports are visible in real-time in one, standardised format for seamless project communication and management. Export and integrate your reports into project plans and other management software to cut down on admin time and make clear comparisons.

We provide return-on-investment for our software through a range of benefits such as getting paid for works complete, winning more work with improved tenders and reducing costly delays and disputes. We focus heavily on customer success and ensuring that team members feel comfortable with the new process, offering a range of training methods and continuous product support.

In conclusion, Microsoft Excel can be an effective tool for project management in the railway industry. Its flexibility, ease of use, and ability to generate real-time reports make it a valuable asset for project managers. However, it is essential to recognize its limitations and consider alternative software solutions for larger or more complex projects. By utilizing the right tools and processes, railway projects can be managed effectively, ensuring successful outcomes for all stakeholders.

Will Doyle


I am an experienced RICS chartered Quantity Surveyor​ with first-hand experience of how the consistent capture and analysis of data can transform global project delivery.

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