Looking for an awesome Airtable alternative?
Sure, the Airtable project management tool “excels” as a powerful database and spreadsheet management tool to organize your project data.
However, that’s just about all it can manage.
The Airtable database app simply doesn’t have enough key features that can help you run a successful project from start to finish.
Because of this, many teams started looking for an Airtable alternative, just like you!
In this article, we’ll take a look at 5 well-rounded project management software that can do so much more than Airtable can.
This Article Contains:
(Click on the links to jump to a particular section)
- What is Airtable?
- Why do you need an Airtable alternative?
- 5 best Airtable alternatives in 2020
What Is Airtable?
We’ve got a quick riddle for you:
What do you get when you cross a Google spreadsheet with a database?
The answer is Airtable, a unique database and spreadsheet software hybrid.
This management tool lets you add numbers, figures, and formulas as you do in a normal spreadsheet, but there’s a twist. You can also add images, PDFs, checkboxes, and tags in the cells of the spreadsheet (known as Airtable fields.)
Additionally, you can even create an Airtable form and capture the entries into your database.
So what else can you do with an Airtable account?
Here’s what an Airtable user can do:
- Store all your project files in an Airtable base (workspace)
- View all your Airtable data in a grid (similar to Microsoft Excel), calendar, or a Kanban board
- Create and use cool spreadsheet templates from the Airtable universe
- Extend its functionality with an Airtable integration or use an Airtable API
Note: Airtable integrates with quite a few tools like Evernote, Slack, and a few other software options from this list, like Basecamp.
For a deeper look at this spreadsheet tool, check out our detailed Airtable review.
Who can use Airtable?
Here’s the short answer courtesy of the Backstreet Boys:
And now here’s the long one:
Airtable empowers teams to create well-detailed spreadsheets or databases for their projects. It’s really flexible, so Airtable works for literally any kind of project.
It can be used by:
- Creative agencies
- Marketing professionals
- Software development teams
However, if you don’t use spreadsheets at work (like almost everyone), Airtable might not be a good fit for you. So it’s time you look for Airtable alternatives.
Why Do You Need An Airtable Alternative?
While Airtable is a great replacement for Microsoft Excel, it falls short as project management software.
After all, you can’t manage your team from a spreadsheet.
It’s like trying to get orange juice from an apple!
It isn’t really built for that.
Because of that very reason, this spreadsheet software has a few flaws:
1. Lack of task management features
Wait, does Airtable have tasks?
Technically, an Airtable base does allow you to create a spreadsheet grid where you can assign tasks, but it’s not a built-in feature.
So when you want to assign a task, you’ll have to use and edit the Airtable grid manually. And if you’re a user who has to assign tasks to your team regularly, you’re going to have a bad time.
Here’s another riddle:
What does a leprechaun, a time machine, and an Airtable subtask have in common?
They don’t exist!
To create a single subtask, you would have to create and link another table or spreadsheet containing those tasks, and that just sounds needlessly complicated.
2. Lack of communication features
That’s why project management software should offer new ways for teams to communicate.
So far, the only way collaboration is possible in Airtable is through comments.
Comments are good for sharing basic feedback, but for complex discussions, you’ll need to use another collaboration tool, or even worse: email.
Without having a dedicated communication feature, your messages would be all over the place. And trust us, you wouldn’t want to play ‘Where’s Waldo?’ with your team chats.
3. Limited workflow automation tools
Workflow automation is a key feature that every project management tool simply must have.
Automating your tasks can save your team two hours a day.
That’s 2 hours that can be used on a productive task instead of working on repetitive tasks.
And what tasks are the most mundane and repetitive?
Dealing with data and spreadsheets!
Unfortunately, an Airtable spreadsheet can not be automated easily.
If you really want to automate the Airtable database, there are 2 options:
- Upgrade to the expensive Enterprise plan to get your hands on the feature
- Use a third-party tool like Zapier to automate your relational database
That’s too much work for something that’s supposed to reduce your workload!
Ironic, isn’t it?
4. No built-in reports
Unfortunately, Airtable doesn’t have reports, but that’s okay.
We might have a ‘solution’ or two.
- You could use filters to organize and group similar data manually (time-consuming)
- Export the data as a CSV file and analyze it in another tool (which means investing in a second tool)
However, Airtable does offer some reports and basic graphs via Airtable Blocks, but they’re not available in the free version. That means you essentially have to pay to know whether your project is on track.
And how much do you have to pay for that added functionality?
Airtable’s Plus plan starts at $12 per month per user. Per user!
Suppose you have a team of 10, that would set you back $120 a month.
And the Pro plan isn’t cheap either, as it costs $20/month/user and will burn a hole in your pocket.
Fortunately, we have an extinguisher for that fire: Airtable alternatives.
5 Best Airtable Alternatives in 2020
There is a dizzying number of Airtable alternatives out there on the market.
So it’s pretty easy to get overwhelmed by so many choices.
But don’t worry.
To prevent this from happening to you, we have handpicked 5 of the best project management tools you can use instead of the Airtable database.
ClickUp is the world’s leading project management software. It’s used by 100,000+ teams from small startups to mighty giants like Google and Nike. Unlike Airtable, ClickUp has tons of built-in task management and collaboration features that allow teams to get things done, fast.
Let’s take a look at why ClickUp is the best free Airtable alternative:
If you currently use Airtable, chances are, you like spreadsheets.
And while there are more effective ways to manage projects, sometimes, you simply need a good ol’ spreadsheet for all your data.
That’s one of the reasons why ClickUp comes with a powerful built-in Table view.
In the Table view, every row is the same height and every field is a column. Additionally, there’s no separation by List or status – making sure you get condensed, accessible view of everything!
However, that isn’t all.
You can also choose what columns you want, customize row heights, and even pin columns for more visibility.
And if you use a traditional spreadsheet tool like Excel, you can copy all your Table view data and paste it there for added convenience.
The Table view isn’t all you get.
There are more ways to view tasks in ClickUp than there are Backstreet Boys members! Perfect for those team members who want to organize their work whichever way they want:
Here are some of the other views you get:
- List View: arranges multiple tasks in neat task lists
- Board View: view all your project tasks in a neat Scrum or Kanban board
- Calendar View: view your busy schedule like you do in Airtable calendars
- Box View: keep tabs on your team member’s work and tasks
- Gantt View: create and manage your project Gantt chart or timeline
- Activity View: track project status updates in real-time
- Me Mode: view tasks assigned to you
Don’t just manage your team, motivate them.
With this key feature, set Goals and Targets for your team to achieve, and see them work towards their Goal in real-time.
Sure, an Airtable base allows you to share feedback via comments, but are your team members actually paying attention to them?
With ClickUp, make sure your team takes action on the comments.
Convert comments into tasks, and assign them to the team. They get instantly notified whenever they receive a comment, so there are no excuses for overlooking them.
All your ClickUp comments and conversations are stored in the Chat View, so you don’t have to spend hours finding that one comment.
You don’t need weekly status meetings to see what’s happening within the project.
Automate your repetitive tasks in just a few clicks.
ClickUp offers hundreds of workflow automation templates, and you can even create your own custom Automations.
- Dynamic user interface
- Free version is feature rich
- Great team collaboration features like Collaboration Detection, real-time editing, and more
- Can create a rich knowledge base with ClickUp Docs (similar to a Google Doc)
- Custom Permissions to keep project stakeholders in the loop
- Dependencies help approach tasks in the right order
- Task templates to conveniently create tasks for a workflow rather than starting from scratch
- Powerful Android and iOS mobile apps to manage your projects on the go
- Tons of native integrations including Google Drive, Time Doctor, and Evernote
- Can’t export Dashboards
- No tags available for Docs
- No native language translations yet (coming soon!)
The best part?
ClickUp adds new features every single week.
Check out ClickUp’s product roadmap here.
ClickUp offers three plans:
- Free Forever Plan: Unlimited users and tasks, along with 100 MB cloud storage
- Unlimited Plan ($5/month per user when billed annually): Unlimited cloud storage, integrations, and Dashboards
- Business Plan ($9/month per user when billed annually): Google single sign-on (SSO), custom exporting, advanced time tracking
ClickUp also offers an Enterprise Plan that can streamline your organization’s workflow.
- G2: 4.7/5 (1100+ reviews)
- Capterra: 4.7/5 (2000+ reviews
Like Airtable, Smartsheet is a project management and collaboration tool, with a focus on spreadsheets. Since it’s user interface is similar to Microsoft Excel, it’s a starting point for managers unfamiliar with SaaS (software as a service) productivity tools.
- Multiple views ranging from Grid to Gantt Chart to Kanban board.
- Project dashboards to track progress
- Workflow automation for repetitive processes
- Spreadsheet attachments
- Simple user interface
- Good features for team collaboration like file sharing, group management, etc.
- User friendly mobile app
- Advanced security features like Google SSO and two-factor authentication
- Complicated project report system
- No real-time communication or chat feature
- No free version available
- Lack of native time tracking capabilities
Unfortunately, Smartsheet is not a free Airtable alternative.
It currently offers two paid plans:
- Individual ($14/month when billed annually): Suitable for small teams
- Business ($25/month when billed annually): Includes workflow templates and reporting features
It also offers an Enterprise plan for large businesses.
- G2: 4.2/5 (2000+ reviews)
- Capterra: 4.4/5 (1400+ reviews)
Curious about Smartsheet? Read our detailed Smartsheet review here.
Basecamp is a super simple project management and team collaboration software. Unlike any other management tool on this list, Basecamp is focused on minimal design. This is useful for small teams who just require a key feature or two, but for everyone else, Basecamp might not be a good fit.
- To-do task lists help you assign tasks and set due dates
- Hill charts offer a unique way to visualize project progress over time
- Group chats and direct messages (similar to Slack)
- Simple reports that show what your team is working on
- Robust calendar tool that can help set up events and meetings
- Handy search bar that lets you find project data in a flash
- Customizable user interface with different views and color themes
- Separate inbox for notifications
- No task prioritization
- No native time tracking feature
- The Basecamp app has limited functionality when it comes to task lists and notifications
- Only one project tracking feature: hill charts
Basecamp only offers a single plan: $99/month for unlimited users, unlimited projects and 500MB cloud storage.
- G2: 4.1/5 (4400+ reviews)
- Capterra: 4.3/5 (11900+ reviews)
Want to learn more about Basecamp? Click here to read our full Basecamp review.
Originally created as a bug-tracking tool, Jira evolved over the years to become a highly customizable management software.
- Flexible Agile views with a customizable Scrum and Kanban board
- Detailed reports including velocity charts, burn up charts, burndown charts, etc.
- Customizable project dashboards
- Power search to find a specific task
- The roadmap feature allows teams to tackle large scale projects
- Great for software development and issue tracking
- Advanced workflow automation templates
- Offers 3000+ native integrations including Evernote, Slack, and Google sheet
- Isn’t well suited for non-technical teams
- Complicated user interface and difficult onboarding process
- Lack of in-built collaboration features
- No built-in idea management feature like notepad or docs
Jira offers 1 free and 2 paid plans:
- Free plan: includes basic Agile management features for up to 10 team members
- Standard Plan ($7/month per user): includes 250 GB cloud storage for up to 5000 users
- Premium Plan ($14/month per user): has additional functionality and unlimited storage
Note: Jira is free for any open source project to use.
- G2: 4.2/5 (3600+ reviews)
- Capterra: 4.4/5 (8900+ reviews)
Here’s our in-depth review of Jira in case you wanted a closer look.
5. Zoho Project
Zoho Project is another functional solution for project management.
Zoho Project is part of the Zoho suite which contains other SaaS tools like CRM software, Zoho Books (for accounting), etc. So it makes sense to use Zoho Projects only when you’re using other associated software.
- Task lists, subtasks, and comments for easy task management
- Gantt chart feature for managing dependencies
- Timesheets allow you to track and create reports of your team’s working hours
- Cloud storage for project documents
- Easy to schedule tasks and projects
- Advanced time tracking and invoicing features, suitable for remote teams
- Super detailed reports and project dashboards
- Affordable for small teams
- Steep learning curve
- Limited Agile project management features
- Complex and clunky user interface
- Expensive for big teams
Zoho project has five plans geared towards different teams:
- Free forever plan: for teams of up to 3 members
- Standard plan ($3/month per user): for a small team of 6-10 members
- Express plan ($4/month per user): for medium-sized teams ranging from 12-50 members
- Premium plan ($5/month per user): for large teams of 15-100 members
- Enterprise plan ($6/month per user): allows unlimited users and projects
- G2: 4.0/5 (150+ reviews)
- Capterra: 4.2/5 (200+ reviews)
Airtable might be the cool new kid on the block, but does that mean it’s a good team management solution?
Unfortunately, this spreadsheet software isn’t that well-suited for project management.
However, there are a few software that can easily take Airtable’s place.
But which is the best free Airtable alternative? Let’s look in the magic mirror to find out.
Mirror, mirror on the wall…
Not only does ClickUp have every key feature that the other tools have, but it also has a few more!
Forget Grumpy, Sleepy, and Dopey: sign up with ClickUp today and meet the eighth dwarf – Productivity!
Holly is a Coaching Program Manager at ClickUp, where she helps demystify how to set up Workspaces for max productivity. When she’s not thinking through complicated use cases and set up ideas, you can find her playing her harp or tossing a ball to her dog, Dingdong.