Excel vs. Confluence Tables: Five Reasons to Switch

March 16, 2021
16 min

As companies develop and their teams grow, it becomes vital to adjust to the new processes. Optimizing a workspace and workflows influences productivity, allows sharing data more easily, and increases transparency. Though MS Excel and Google Sheets are quite popular when it comes to data organization, many companies choose Confluence to structure and analyze data more efficiently.

Confluence covers most of the aspects needed to be effective at planning and organizing your work. If you decide to switch to Confluence, some pieces of data remain scattered around various programs. Many companies keep using Excel or Spreadsheets as the main tool for creating tables. Though these instruments are great for personal usage or smaller teams, there are still many peculiarities, making them inconvenient for collective work. And that can be a huge disadvantage for a company, considering the amount of time and effort it consumes.

Confluence is a convenient workspace that helps you get the job done. In this article, we will compare MS Excel, Google Sheets, and Confluence tables on several parameters. You’ll learn:

  • Why sharing information is more practical in Confluence.
  • How to analyze and visualize data in one click.
  • How to transfer your data to Confluence if you used other tools before.

Why switch to Confluence

These are some of the reasons why switching to Confluence tables from MS Excel and Google Sheets is a good idea.

1. Time-efficient process of sharing information

Especially if you work with Excel, you know how time-consuming it can be to share data with other colleagues. If you have a subscription or use SharePoint, working together on the same spreadsheet won’t be a problem. Otherwise, you need to send the document you are working on to your co-worker and then expect the file back. It’s definitely not the best way to work on the task together.

With Google Sheets, it’s a bit easier – you just need to share the link to the document. But you also have to grant a certain kind of access to some of your colleagues. And if you give access to anyone on the internet with the link, the data can eventually get into the wrong hands.

Confluence is a collaboration tool that helps organize a workspace and store data, so you can easily share any information with your team. Your colleagues will find the required tables in the corresponding space. You can limit access to the pages for certain users, but generally, everyone who can access the space can view the data.

2. Collaboration

As it follows from the previous section, collaboration in MS Excel or Google Sheets is not always possible. If a few people work on the same document using Excel, they can’t add new data simultaneously. It comes to exporting and sending the document again, so it takes a lot of time for all the colleagues to commit and get the job done.

With Confluence, all of the teammates share the same workspace. If working on the same task is requested, it is possible to join a space simultaneously and make the changes or add anything, thanks to collaborative editing.

3. Page history

There are some situations where you need to restore the information in the state it used to be before the changes. With Excel files, it is just not possible. Once you finish working on the document, save it and send it to your colleague, there is no way of going back to the previous version.

Google Sheets give you the option to look through the page history and see the changes. But usually, it is time- and energy-consuming to find the necessary version. If your internet connection fails at some point, the changes won’t be saved at all.

Working with Confluence, you have access to the page history. It is easy to find in the view mode in the toolbar menu. You can easily track any change made to the content and therefore correct the page if an important piece was lost.

4. Creating tables

The replacement of MS Excel of Google Sheets should help users create tables and work with them on the fly. You might also want to transfer the data you have in various files to your current workspace, and Confluence will help you do that with no effort at all.

There are a few methods of creating tables in Confluence.

Manually. While editing a page, insert a table of the necessary size. You can add more rows and columns as you go, select a heading row or heading column, and generally organize the table the way you want.

Output the table from CSV or JSON file. If you previously stored data in such a format, you can now upload the table to Confluence right from that file. Apart from attaching a file, it is also possible to upload your table data from a URL. For that, you will need the Table Filter and Charts for Confluence app. You can see more on outputting tables from different sources in our documentation.

Use the Jira Issues macro. For that, your Confluence and Jira must be linked. This macro allows you to display one or several Jira issues on your page. You can include recently viewed issues, add them through a URL or via JQL. Discover more about the usage of Jira Issues macro here.

Pro tip:

Learn more about using Spreadsheets in Confluence

5. Analysis and visualization

Working with tables doesn’t solely include storing information. Sometimes you need to calculate something or make a presentation based on your chart. While Excel files and spreadsheets help you use various calculation formulas, with the Table Charts and Filters for Confluence app, you can do it using different macros. Here is what you can use:

Table Filter macro. As the name suggests, filtration is the main feature. You can add several criteria to filter data in your table. Apart from filtering, this macro also helps you complete simple calculations, like summing or multiplying.

Pivot Table macro. This macro allows you to accumulate and count the table data, presenting it in the form of a pivot table. A pivot table can also show you a sum of certain numbers, but it deduces the average value, counts the number of entities in a selected column, shows you minimal, maximal, or literal values.

Table Transformer macro. If you need to build a single table out of several tables, this macro comes in handy. It merges tables based on the common information they have. The Table Transformer macro also allows you to perform various calculations.

Chart from Table macro. You can use it to create charts and graphs based on your tables. It’s an especially useful feature for visualizing data and presenting it to your colleagues in an engaging way.

Table Toolbox macro. You can find this macro in Confluence Cloud solely. With its help, you can apply any of the macros listed above to your table. You can also merge several tables, filter them and create a pivot table or a visual diagram. If you work with Confluence Server, you can also apply various macros to the same table. In this case, instead of using the Table Toolbox macro, you can just nest macros into one another.

Want to learn more?

These are just a few of the benefits you can see while switching from Excel or Google Sheets to Confluence tables. Let’s sum up the comparison:

  • Compared to MS Excel or Google Sheets, Confluence is better for collaborative work.
  • Thanks to the page history in Confluence, it’s easy to back up to the previous version of your file. In Excel, this function is not available at all.
  • If you power Confluence up with Table Filter and Charts for Confluence, you can filter table data and do various calculations. For the same operations in Excel or Google Sheets, you’ll need formulas.
  • With the help of the Table Filter and Charts for Confluence add-on, you’ll rapidly make charts and graphs. While this is also possible in Excel, you can only create a chart in Google Sheets manually.

Try it out yourself and let us know what you think! Contact us if you need any help.