Airtable and Smartsheet are two competing project management tools, each of which focuses on helping team collaboration. The following report provides an objective comparison between them to present an unbiased view of their similarities and differences, as well as strengths and weaknesses.

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Main Differences Between Airtable and Smartsheet

  • Airtableโ€™s well-established community contributes hundreds more templates. Smartsheet isnโ€™t necessarily lacking in this area, but takes a more proprietary approach to creating templates.
  • Smartsheet brands itself as an enterprise software aimed at bigger companies with large workloads, where Airtable has more ties to the small business sector, with the versatility to scale upward if needed.
  • Airtable takes the good parts of Microsoft Excel and presents them in a better visual package with more features. Smartsheet is more of a modern progression of this software, even taking some of the visuals along with the upgrade.

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What is Airtable?

Airtable is a spreadsheet with the features of a database, which facilitates cloud collaboration–hence the name โ€œairโ€ (the cloud) and โ€œtableโ€(spreadsheets).

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It is considered hybrid software, taking the ingenuity and visual interface of a database and combining it with the familiarity and ease-of-use from spreadsheets.

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What is Smartsheet?

Smartsheet is an SaaS project management platform that combines the efficiency-enhancing elements of many such software types.

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This includes the typical parts of project management–workloads, tasks, timelines–but also elements of document sharing and productivity. It is the modernized progression of Microsoft Excel with more elements geared toward collaboration between teams.

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Who is Airtable Built For?

Airtable presents itself as a versatile system that can work in any team-based environment.

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They carefully avoid pigeonholing themselves into one specific area, presenting โ€˜templatesโ€™ that are geared toward different purposes. Its client base ranges from individuals to small teams who need a bit of organization for ideas to enormous enterprises like Netflix, so this lack of categorization under any specific industry is more true than not.

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Who is Smartsheet Built For?

On their website–and various other places–Smartsheet claims to be used by most Fortune 100 companies, with numbers ranging from 75% to 90%.

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Their product can scale from a single person upward, but their brand is clearly aimed at enterprise companies with lots of employees and jobs to manage.

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What Features Does Airtable Offer?

  • Spreadsheet-based Data Management – Their main selling point, which makes the platform simpler for companies that arenโ€™t as tech-savvy as others, though itโ€™s still feature rich enough to appeal to developers and the like.
  • Modular workflows – Project workflows can be customized in a matter of minutes by moving blocks around in Airtableโ€™s UI. The resulting adjustments to data happen in real-time so the most tedious aspects of project management only take a few clicks.
  • Team Solutions – These are templates that can be used by any department within a company. Marketing, Products, HR, and Operations, Sales, and Finance are all covered on their website, and these are just the most popular examples.
  • Enterprise Ready – Airtable scales with enormous workloads (250k+ records), and has proven itself capable of handling such workloads with its client base.
  • One Source of Truth – The oft-repeated phrase captures the centralization aspect of Airtable, a feature that is present throughout its design rather than a single part that provides this service.ย 

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What Features Does Smartsheet Offer?

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  • Extensive Project Management – In a market where apps are offering the same features in different ways, Smartsheet shows its experience with simplification and polish.
  • Familiar UI Smartsheet will be familiar to anyone who has used spreadsheets, and is relatively easy to learn for anyone who hasnโ€™t.
  • Lots of Visuals – This includes views, graphs, dashboards, reports, boards, and employee portraits. The level of visual capabilities are best in class, and are both useful and aesthetically pleasing.
  • Extensive Collaboration Tools – The platform provides every team-building capability of its peers, plus many more. Everything from document sharing to digital signing to individual user profiles is included.
  • Trustworthy Systems – Objectively garnering trustworthiness is difficult, but it can be proven in this case by Smartsheetโ€™s list of clientele, who have relied on the product for big business for many years.

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Airtable Pros ย 

  • Familiar spreadsheet database management with the features of a relational database, with the ability to create applications that simplify views even more
  • Highly customizable fields, views, and tables fit into a user-friendly, practical UI that is both modern and familiar
  • Facilitates collaboration in each module, supporting communication and information sharing throughout organizations

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Airtable Cons

  • Less built-in integration than some competing platforms; third-party connectors are often required.
  • Lack of specific industry focus might not fit the need of a company looking for the ideal fit
  • Access permissions become difficult to manage once you get to a certain level

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Smartsheet Pros

  • A state-of-the-art UI system that adapts to data changes in real-time and allows for efficient collaboration
  • A comprehensive set of tools that cover every aspect of project management; essentially provides the workflow benefits of several platforms at once
  • Capability to scale and work effectively with very large workloads is among the industryโ€™s best, if not the best

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Smartsheet Cons

  • Expect to pay more than less feature-rich programs; might not be a sound investment for companies who donโ€™t require as much power
  • The depth of Smartsheet might be overkill for simple companies looking for an entry level project management system with which to scale
  • Expect a deeper learning curve than many platforms of its kind

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Airtable vs Smartsheet: Which one should you go with?

Our vote: Airtable

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Smartsheet is a great tool, but we think Airtable is better.

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Smartsheet is built for larger enterprise customers, and their software is great for this use case. For leaner that want to get more out of their subscription, we would recommend Airtable.

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