Back to all posts
Libby Marks

5 Spreadsheet Alternatives for Resource Planning & Forecasting

When it comes to resource management, there’s a right and a wrong way. Here’s five spreadsheet alternatives for project managers to do things right. 💪

Despite the name, it’s hard to Excel at resource planning and forecasting using a spreadsheet. They’re just not designed for the purpose. You’ll end up frustrated by the lack of features and endless formulas. 

Luckily, there are alternatives to using spreadsheets for resource planning. And although they cost a little upfront, you’ll reap ROI by making better business decisions and saving wasted time. Win-win. 

Common frustrations with spreadsheets

What’s wrong with spreadsheets for resource planning and forecasting? Where do we start? 

They’re confusing and cumbersome - On average, people spend 38% of their time working in a spreadsheet but most people find them a chore. With unintuitive tools and work-arounds to extract the information you need, spreadsheets really slow you down.

They don’t do what you want - Spreadsheets aren’t cut out for resource management. Do they easily show you who’s working on what? How much capacity they have for more work? Whether they’re under or over-utilized? When you need to recruit? (These are rhetorical. We know they don’t!)

They don’t help you make decisions - To extract actionable insights from spreadsheets takes time and specialist knowledge. But only 6% of people consider themselves expert users. You need easy reports and data visualization to make fast, confident decisions - and spreadsheets don’t deliver.   

They cost more than they save - Using spreadsheets for resource planning and forecasting is a false economy. Yes, they’re free to use. But at what cost? Wasted hours as you wade through stats, and lost opportunities through slow or ill-informed decision-making. 

In fact, just about the only good things about using spreadsheets for resource planning are:

  • They’re free
  • They’re familiar 

But is that a good business case for using them?

What about:

  • Being fit-for-purpose and easy to use? 
  • Making live data instantly accessible and understandable? 
  • Providing a way to actually allocate resources and assign tasks automatically? 

No. Using spreadsheets for resource planning and forecasting just isn’t sustainable, scalable, or sensible. 

Here’s our pick of the five best alternatives to spreadsheets for resource management.

Best alternatives to spreadsheets for resource management

1. Runn - The best spreadsheet alternative for savvy project managers

spreadsheet alternatives

Runn is resource planning and forecasting done right. It’s designed specifically for the purpose and has a wealth of functionality to make project managers’ lives easier. It is particularly popular with professional services, consulting firms, and software studios.

Resource scheduling

  • Find the right people for the job - Centralized resource pool detailing resources’ role, skills, level, cost, availability etc
  • Surface capacity to take on work - Complete visibility into all resources’ availability, capacity, and utilization 
  • Schedule resources super-quick - Drag-and-drop allocation assigns people to projects
  • Kiss clashes goodbye - Plan a balanced workload across all your resources for happier teams, fewer delays, and less budget and schedule variance 

Project forecasting 

  • Forecast capacity (without formulas) - Real-time visibility into capacity for current and future projects. Confidently take on more work - or workers - to grow your business
  • Track projects and pipeline - At-a-glance overview of project performance against schedule and budget - with forecasts for revenue, profit, and costs
  • Plan for the ‘what ifs’ - Easy scenario planning - no Excel expertise needed - to test different  ‘what ifs’ and understand their impact on capacity, profit, and more 
  • Improve project forecasts - Build in the best profit margin by basing project forecasts on past resourcing data in Runn - for more accurate schedules, budgets, and client quotes 

Beyond resource scheduling and project forecasting, Runn also offers functionality for project planning, capacity management, reporting, and timesheets. 

It is the only software you’ll need for confident resource scheduling and profitable project management. And it’s a million times better than using a spreadsheet. Read more about Runn vs spreadsheets.

2. Float - The best spreadsheet alternative for small businesses

spreadsheet alternative for resource scheduling

Much as we’d love you to choose Runn, we need to be impartial here and let you know other resource management tools do exist! And one of our favourites is Float. 

Float offers similar functionality to Runn but is aimed at smaller teams - particularly those in the creative sector. While Runn can support organizations of 500+, Float says it services businesses with 5 to 500 resources. However, some customer reviews complain that it gets a little cumbersome when you hit high double figures. 

Float has simple and robust resource scheduling tools that let smaller businesses schedule tasks quickly with a real-time view of availability, and see their team's capacity and utilization at a glance to optimize assigned work. It doesn’t have built in project planning like Runn but does integrate with project planning tools. 

The slightly less advanced functionality is reflected in the price, which is a nudge cheaper than Runn. 

Read on: Runn vs Float - Putting the Best in Resource Planning to Test ➡️

3. Paymo - The best spreadsheet alternative for getting paid

paymo best workforce planning tool

As you might guess from the name, Paymo includes billing functionality in its suite of features. It is perfect for SMBs looking for an all-in-one way to manage resources, track time, and submit invoices. 

It includes functionality for managing resources, assigning tasks, creating team schedules, tracking hours, and billing clients all from the same platform. 

You’ll find familiar planning and management tools included - like Kanban boards and Gantt charts - to keep your projects running smoothly. But you also get the ability to manage expenses, create invoices, and automate payments. 

5. Kantata - The best spreadsheet alternative for enterprises

Kantata - alternative to Retain

Kantata (previously Mavenlink) is resource scheduling and PSA software. PSA meaning ‘professional services automation’. It boasts similar resource scheduling, project forecasting, and project planning tools to Runn. 

But it also offers more functionality and integrations. That is reflected in the price - almost 6x what Runn costs - so it’s about balancing your business needs with your budget.  

Kantata boasts powerful business intelligence functionality and advanced reporting capabilities. Plus financial management tools such as automatic billing and turnover recognition, alongside integrations with financial software systems. 

It also integrates with a whole raft of other enterprise-level tools - like Salesforce - to create cross-functional workflows and a single source of truth for all business teams. 

5. Mosaic - The best spreadsheet alternative for automation 

one of the most common Airtable alternatives

Like Runn, Mosaic is a cloud-based resource management tool. It has similar resource scheduling functionality like drag-and-drop resource allocation, real-time reporting, staff skill profiles, and more.

What makes Mosaic a little different is it’s use of AI to accelerate the resource planning process. Looking at project plans, resource availability and skills, Mosaic can automatically match people to projects. 

Using information gathered from timesheets, the AI predicts how long future projects might take, and suggests new project schedules based on resource availability.  

Mosaic’s AI also prompts you if it spots the signs that a particular role or skill set is being overutilizied, so you can decide whether you want to recruit new resources. 

Ready for better productivity and profitability?

To run a more productive and profitable business - by allocating resources effectively, optimizing utilization, and surfacing spare capacity - you need resource management software. 

Stop wasting time on spreadsheets and start managing your resources the right way - with Runn. 

Take Runn for a test drive by creating your free account today. 

No credit card, no commitment, no catch. 

Enjoy the post? Sign up for the latest strategies, stories and product updates.

You might also like

Try Runn today for free!

Join over 10k users worldwide.
Start scheduling in less than 10 minutes.
No credit card needed