Most businesses have a love-hate relationship with using spreadsheets.
The love comes from the ability of a spreadsheet to quickly tell a story with a set of data.
The hate often comes from the difficulty to get beyond a simple view of “what is happening” and into the more complicated “why things have turned out the way they have.”
While spreadsheets can be used to conduct complicated and often sophisticated analysis of data, there are three very compelling reasons to reduce your organization’s dependency on spreadsheets.
- Spreadsheets are individual tools and not collaborative by nature. Spreadsheet tools have improved but are still not able to easily reconcile multiple versions of the same spreadsheet or prevent errors when changes are made.Collaborative cloud-based systems and ERPs are a better place to manage and analyze your data. Even if an individual makes an error in analysis, the underlying data is preserved, and it is easy for others to catch and correct the error. Such a shift adds the bonus of allowing many users to work with the same data in many different ways at the same time…and share it with the entire organization for feedback and updates.
- Spreadsheets take up a lot of time. It is easy to set up a spreadsheet to create a single view of a dataset, but it takes a lot of time to keep it updated or change the view it provides.ERPs and other data analysis tools do have a learning curve that many companies are reluctant to take on, but the time invested upfront will pay off in the long run as better, more sophisticated, and timely views are available throughout the organization with a fraction of the effort.
- Spreadsheets are hard to govern. Another big reason your organization should abandon spreadsheets for a more modern analytics approach is that with spreadsheets it is hard to keep control of them and trust their accuracy.With a spreadsheet, only the individual who created or updated it knows the data well enough to trust the outcome. With an analytics platform (ERP-based or attached to a data warehouse) everyone uses a single, trusted store of data to create useful views of the business for all areas of the operation. This collaborative approach is the best way to create an organization that trusts data and the reports derived from it.
Start Reducing Your Spreadsheet Dependency
Like all management changes, removing spreadsheets from your reporting processes may not be an easy or overnight change. The best place to start is to work with your management team to identify the reports dependent on spreadsheets and the reasons for them. An honest discussion can help everyone see the weakness in the current process and gain support for change.
If your business would like help reducing its dependence on spreadsheets contact Triple Helix. We can help you assess your current data management and reporting capabilities and develop a plan for moving beyond spreadsheets.