All posts
Published at Thu Jun 20 2024 in
For Teams

Smartsheet vs Excel vs Rows: Which One is Better in 2024?


If you’re on a hunt for the best spreadsheet software that can help you analyze and visualize data, I’ve got three tools for you to try – Smartsheet, Excel, and Rows.

But which one of these three will best help your business? To know, you must analyze these software’s features, pricing, integrations, and more.

To make things easy for you, I went ahead and tested these tools for you.

Here’s what I found:

Use Smartsheet if you want to collaborate with your team and external parties (clients and customers) to solve project management and data pipeline tasks through GANTT charts, kanban boards, etc.

Use Excel if you need to manipulate and run in-depth analyses of large datasets. The software also gives you access to the biggest catalog of functions and formulas.

Use Rows if you often paste data or import files from many of your daily tools to a spreadsheet to analyze and share. It comes with 50+ built-in data integrations, AI capabilities, and beautiful sharing options.

For an in-depth comparison, read ahead.

The spreadsheet where data comes to life

The spreadsheet where data comes to life

Connected to your business data. Powered by AI. Delightful to share.

Try Rows for Free

Features: Smartsheet vs Excel vs Rows


Rows hero-min

Rows is a spreadsheet software that gives you extra flexibility to transform and visualize data better.

Like other top spreadsheet software in the market, Rows adds data connection capabilities to integrate well with the tools and workflows that modern teams use daily.

Feature 1. Data Integration

Like Supermetrics, Rows integrates with 50+ data sources and imports data from them with just a few clicks.

The best part? All data connectors in Rows are built-in native features, which means that you don’t have to rely on external add-ons to use AI in your analysis.

Curious about how Rows does it?

It handles JSONs in the grid and converts them into table format.

Some examples of data integration in Rows are:

Import Google Analytics 4 data to Rows and get key analytics and reporting. Pick one of the recommended reports or build your own custom view as follows:

Or you can:

  • Connect your LinkedIn page and track comments to your posts.

  • Connect Slack to Rows and set alert automation to your #social channel whenever a new comment appears on your social media posts. All from a spreadsheet.

  • Import a Notion database in Rows with a few clicks, enrich data, and send it back to Notion.

The HTTP source sends GET, POST, PUT, and PATCH requests to any endpoint using basic or API token authentication methods. This helps you retrieve data from tools that aren’t in the Rows catalog. 

💡 Try it yourself in real-time with the following HTTP tester:

Feature 2. Comes with Built-in AI to Answer Your Data-Related Questions

With Rows and AI integrations, it’s now easy to do data analysis, even if you’re a non-data-friendly person. You can ask questions to the AI in natural language and solve complex issues like doing sentiment analysis, cleaning up data, and more.

There’s no need to install a third-party plugin for the AI to work. Everything is in-built, leading to a seamless user experience.

When it comes to AI, Rows has three main components:

1. AI Functions

Rows integrates with Open AI for its 14 proprietary functions that automate prompts and address specific types of tasks.

Here’s one of the use cases of AI functions – EXTRACT_OPENAI in action:

Similarly, you can also execute sentiment analysis on a social media comment or product review using the function – SENTIMENT_ANALYSIS_OPENAI or clean up data using APPLY_TASK_OPENAI

Discover more about all possible use cases of AI in Rows.

2. AI Analyst

Rows’ AI Analyst allows you to use natural language, ask data-related questions to AI, and get answers to complex calculations in seconds. It does all the calculations for you, including descriptive statistics, data summarization, transformation, and pivoting. Discover more.

AI analyst 2

3. AI Subtitles

Ask AI to generate subtitles for your tables and graphs that include key insights from the data displayed.

add subtitle

Feature 3. Build Layouts That are Delightful to Share

With Rows, you get the ability to build elegant dashboards that are shareable with your team and clients. 

Here’s an example of our investor dashboard (numbers are dummy).

investor dashboard rows-min


Apart from this, you can also embed tables and charts beautifully on Notion, Confluence, website, wiki, or other internal tools that support iframes with ease.

It’s a simple 4 step process:

  1. Choose Embed in the settings menu located in the right-hand corner of the element you want to embed.

  2. Click the Share Privately toggle.

  3. Click <> Copy code. You can use the Copy link to paste directly into tools that automatically embed via the link - e.g., Notion.

  4. Paste the embed code on your website, wiki, or destination tool.

See for yourself in the following interactive demo:

Learn how to use Embed in the most recent documentation tools, like Notion, Confluence, and Slite.

The spreadsheet where data comes to life

The spreadsheet where data comes to life

Connected to your business data. Powered by AI. Delightful to share.

Try Rows for Free


smartsheet hero-min

Smartsheet is a cloud-based spreadsheet software that lets you and your team plan, capture, manage, automate, and report on work at scale. 

It offers features like dynamic sheets, dashboards, Gantt charts, and forms to streamline processes and improve collaboration. 


Smartsheet lets you streamline your tasks with no-code workflows. You can set up workflows with multiple actions and conditions across devices.

The software comes with ready-to-use templates you can use as a starting point; it also gives you the option to build a workflow from scratch.

What’s more, Smartsheet also allows you to set recurring or one-off workflows and respond via apps, emails, or Slack.

If you have an Enterprise license of Smartsheet and a DocuSign account, you can create custom PDFs, automate form processes, prepare contracts, and sign documents inside Smartsheet.

workflow smartsheet-min

Artificial Intelligence

Smartsheet has several AI capabilities that help you analyze and summarize data.

You get instant insights into your business and answers to all your data-related questions with AI-generated charts and metrics.

The tool saves you time by analyzing your sheet data, crafting ad copy, running sentiment analysis, translating text, summarizing task status, and more.

You can also use AI to generate complex formulas by writing instructions in plain, simple English.

Some of the AI features yet to launch are:

  • Build assistant: Lets you co-build powerful automations.

  • Portfolio insights: Visualize the status of programs and portfolios through simple conversations.

  • People insights: Helps you align people and work faster to increase productivity with AI-assisted reporting.

Team Collaboration

Smartsheet offers you one of the best team collaboration features as a spreadsheet software.


Proofing helps you request, gather, and manage shareholder input through an intuitive interface. Reviewers can pin comments onto the data visualizations, which can be in the form of images, notes, or documents.


Give collaborators inside and outside your organization access to the most current version of data and visualizations. Smartsheet lets you control access levels. You can allow a person to view only, comment on, or edit the sheet. The best part? Collaborators can share Smartsheet documents without signing in or even having a Smartsheet account.


Smartsheet lets you upload several file types – JPG, PNG, GIF, PDF, Docs, XLSX, and more. You can attach these files from Brandfolder, Google Drive, One Drive, and other such platforms.

smartsheet share-min

Dashboards and Reporting

Smartsheet’s dashboards allow you to arrange reports and charts in a single interface, providing real-time insights and updates as data changes.

You can share these dashboards with stakeholders and control permission to ensure data security when collaborating.

Smartsheet also offers customizable report templates or the option to build reports from scratch, ensuring that reports align with specific project requirements. Reports can be built to display data from multiple sheets, consolidating information into a single view.

Lastly, you can use conditional formatting to highlight critical data points, such as overdue tasks or budget variances, with color-coded formatting.


excel hero-min

Microsoft Excel is a powerful spreadsheet program for organizing, analyzing, and visualizing data. It provides various tools and functions for calculations, formatting, and data manipulation. 

Functions and Formulas

Of the three, Smartsheet, Excel, and Rows, Excel has the largest catalog of formulas and functions (more than 500). So, if your data analysis is heavily based on complex and frequent calculations, Excel is an excellent choice for you. 

Copilot in Excel

Copilot is the AI Microsoft has integrated into Excel to make it easy for you to analyze, understand, and visualize data.

You can use Copilot to build graphs and charts from raw data to understand it better.

Copilot also helps you with tasks like formatting, organizing, or cleaning data.

However, unlike Rows, which provides AI capabilities with no added cost, Copilot is an add-on that you have to pay for if you want to use it inside Excel.

Data Analysis

Apart from Copilot, Excel also lets you auto-fill cells, update cell values, and carry out conditional formatting to ease the data analysis process.

Another way of automating recurring tasks with Excel is to create macros and speed up the process via automation. However, compared to Rows and Smartsheet, Excel’s automation capability isn’t something to brag about.

One good thing I observed is that Excel's advanced features go beyond what Smartsheet and Rows offer in terms of functionality.

For example, advanced statistical tests such as z-tests, t-tests, and ANOVAs are built into the platform. 

It's no wonder Excel is the preferred choice for analyzing large datasets that require complex formulas, functions, and processes.

Data Visualization

Excel offers customizable graphics and data visualization elements like pie, line, column, bar charts, area and scatter graphs, and other templated options.

It also has a Quick Analysis tool that automatically selects the best chart for your data. In addition, you've access to a vast gallery of ready-made dashboard and report templates for inventory, budgeting, and other versatile purposes.

Integration: Smartsheet vs Excel vs Rows


Rows integrates with 50+ data sources, helping you import, automate, and visualize data more effectively.

It integrates with software in categories like finance, marketing, databases, AI, CRMs, and more, such as Google Analytics, Google Search Console, Facebook Ads, Notion and BigQuery.

Rows also integrates with Open AI to use AI when analyzing data, making the whole process easy for the users.

Other major integrations involve software like:

  • Make

  • Gmail

  • HubSpot

  • Looker Studio

  • Zapier etc.

integrations catalog-min


Smartsheet integrates with 100+ third-party applications to help you ease the data analysis and visualization process. 

The platform’s integrations are categorized into 5 categories:

  1. Enterprise system and operations: Tableau, Power BI, Jira, Salesforce, etc.

  2. Messaging and communication: Slack, Microsoft Teams, Webex, etc.

  3. Content collaboration: Adobe Creative Cloud, DocuSign, Grammarly, etc.

  4. Workflow automation: Bridge, Zapier, Workato, etc.

  5. Security and governance: Skyhigh Security, Directory integration, Microsoft Defender.

smartsheet integrations


Excel lacks modern, plug-and-play data integrations, most of which you'd find in Smartsheet and Rows. 

However, Excel offers Zapier integration, allowing you to integrate with 5,000+ apps in a click. The only native integrations Excel has are for Power BI and a few data warehouses.

Excel powerBI

Pricing: Smartsheet vs Excel vs Rows


Rows comes with a free forever plan that lets you:

  • Onboard unlimited team members

  • Add up to 10 guests

  • Create unlimited spreadsheets

  • Execute 50 integration tasks per month

The free plan is quite generous. But if you want to use data integrations at scale, want white-labeled embed, video support, and more, you have the option to upgrade to one of the paid plans Rows offers:

  • Plus: $15/month/member, up to 25 guests, unlimited integration tasks & daily data refresh.

  • Pro: $22/month/member, up to 100 guests, unlimited integration tasks & hourly data refresh.

  • Enterprise: Custom price for advanced API usage and workflows.

rows pricing-min


Smartsheet offers a free forever plan limited to 1 user and 3 sheets. Other than that, it has three premium plans:

  • Pro: $9 per user per month

  • Business: $32 per user per month

  • Enterprise: Custom pricing

smartsheet pricing


Microsoft Excel (web-only) is available as a standalone app and is free for personal use.

The offline version comes as part of the Microsoft 365 suite and has two subscription categories for personal and professional use:

For Home

  • Personal: $6.99 per month

  • Family: $9.99 per month

For Business

  • Basic: $6 per user per month

  • Standard: $12.50 per user per month

  • Premium: $22 per user per month

👀 Note: Copilot AI is available as an add-on.

excel pricing-min

What are Customers Saying?


The knowledge base Rows offers for every feature and integration is commendable, and users love it.

“Excellent job. Before beginning to use the Rows, I really loved short introduction videos as a taste of getting started on the tutorial. Also, asking the user's level of understanding about spreadsheets was a plus. It is easy to use and easy to share. Good visual design!” - Product Hunt.

Rows review 3-min


A large number of integrations makes it easy for users to import and export data.

“The most innovative customer-centric tool currently available. As a spreadsheet lover, Rows is incredible. The amount of integrations you get out of the tin is just amazing. And now with OpenAI!

I would support Rows just because of the product but the reality is that what I love more about the product is the passion behind it. Torben and Henrique (and the rest of the team) are extremely passionate about their users, constantly meeting them, requesting feedback and actioning it. Whilst that is how businesses should operate, close to their clients in order to improve their products, we all well know that it is now the case very often.” - Product Hunt.

Rows review 3


The spreadsheet where data comes to life

The spreadsheet where data comes to life

Connected to your business data. Powered by AI. Delightful to share.

Try Rows for Free


A reviewer from Capterra loves Smartsheet’s collaboration features, but she also observed that the tool has a learning curve.

‘I really enjoy the feature of being able to be working in the same document as other colleagues. Many of our team members work remotely and having the ability to be in a document making updates or changes at the same time is a huge time saver! I can also see the status of projects and important deadlines.

I really like Smartsheet but when I was first introduced to it, I had a bit of a learning curve to get over. It wasn't very intuitive and took some time to learn but my team members helped me and now that I use it daily, I am very comfortable.’

smartsheet review 2

Businesses often use Smartsheet to create schedules and reports to share with stakeholders.

‘The smartsheet is used for creating schedules and sharing with stakeholders. It’s basically helping us in keeping track of the project, particularly for our large-scale projects. We mainly used it for task management and automating the workflow. Since reporting formats are mostly not found in project tracking tools, Smartsheet provides this feature which we find very convenient.’

smartsheet review


Users use Excel for making pivot tables, charts, and its functions and formulas.

‘Microsoft Excel is an extremely useful tool for me and my team members. We use it for Data analysis, reporting, budgeting, planning, and project management. We use the powerful features of Excel, like pivot tables, charts, and functions. Excel also helps us in performing complex calculations with easy formulas.’

excel review 1

Many users who use Excel complained about the software having a higher learning curve compared to other similar software due to its vast functionalities.

‘Formulas are simple to understand and use. Data is easily visualized. Data is readily organized and sorted.

The greater function requires a larger learning curve. may affect hardware performance based on the volume of data.’

excel review 2

Wrapping Up

One thing is sure – after reading this in-depth comparison guide between Smartsheet, Excel, and Rows, you must have made up your mind about which software is right for you.

Here’s a quick recap:

Rows’ AI capabilities, integrations, and unique features makes it one of the best spreadsheet software in the market. It can help you:

  • Make data analysis easier by leveraging AI, even for non-data-friendly users.

  • Build charts, graphs, and more elements that help you with data visualization.

  • Integrate with data warehouses, finance, marketing, and many more apps to import and export data.

Smartsheet leverages the interface of a spreadsheet to solve project management tasks. It is great for team collaboration and also comes with some AI capabilities similar to Rows.

Excel, the OG of the spreadsheet industry, is apt for handling large datasets and comes with hundreds of functions and formulas that help you do complex calculations.

If you or your team don’t have the time to try all three spreadsheet tools, go to, import data, automate your report, and see if it's the right match!

Related Reading

Google Sheet alternatives

Excel alternatives

Coefficient alternatives

Metabase alternatives

Supermetrics alternatives

Smartsheet alternatives

Airtable alternatives