Data sharing in Excel Sheet or SharePoint List?

A SharePoint Online tutorial by Peter Kalmström

SharePoint iconMicrosoft Excel was not originally created for data sharing, even if it is often used that way. SharePoint, on the other hand, was designed for collaboration from the beginning, and therefore SharePoint has advantages that makes it more suitable for data sharing than Excel.

in the slideshow demo below Peter Kalmström, CEO and Systems Designer of Business Solutions, explains benefits and drawbacks with the two Microsoft platforms.

SharePoint benefits

Peter mentions and explains these SharePoint list advantages over Excel:
  • Editing
    A SharePoint list does not get locked when someone is editing it. An Excel file on a file server is locked so that no one else can access it until the editing is finished and the new version of the file has been saved.

  • Versioning
    SharePoint can show and restore earlier versions of a list. Excel does not have a versioning feature, so to have several versions of a file you have to give them different names.

  • Alerts
    SharePoint Alert iconSharePoint lists have an Alert feature, so that you can have an automatic e-mail each time the list has been changed. There are several different options for when this alert should be sent. Excel does not have this possibility.

  • Independence
    In a SharePoint list each item is independent from the others, so that you can edit and lock each row (=item) and set independent row permissions.

SharePoint drawbacks

Peter also warns about some SharePoint problems:
  • Portability
    A SharePoint list cannot be transferred as easy as an Excel file. (This might also be seen as a benefit!. It is not always an advantage that you easily can share an Excel file.)

  • Re-training and moving costs
    If you already have your data in Excel, it will take some time to move it to SharePoint. (In the next few demos Peter will show how to do it in the best way, see below.)
    It is always easier to let people work as they have always done!

  • 5000 items list limit
    Currently SharePoint Online has a list limitation of 5000 items. Therefore you have to split up the data if it will give more than 5000 list items. (Another option is to share the existing Excel file by uploading it to a SharePoint library.)

More articles about moving Excel data to a SharePoint list

Excel iconExport an Excel table to a SharePoint list using the Excel Export button

Problems when exporting Excel data directly from Excel to SharePoint using the Export button

Enhance SharePoint list created from Excel export

Import an Excel table to a SharePoint list using the Import Spreadsheet app

The Access method to import Excel data to SharePoint

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