8 Reasons to Avoid the Spreadsheet-as-App Trap
Small businesses use spreadsheets for all kinds of reasons. A spreadsheet can be very useful, for example, to quickly map out some sort of financial data and test scenarios, but the problem is that too many businesses are using spreadsheets to create mini software applications. As they grow, it becomes an integral part of their business, and they end up relying on something that is inherently unreliable. Down the road, it leads to poor communication, bad decision making, and a whole lot of wasted time doing repetitive work.
I can’t blame anyone for trying. It’s just so tempting to quickly throw together some formulas and promise yourself you’re going to keep up with it…Yeah, right.
This is a list of the top eight reasons to avoid falling into the Spreadsheet-as-App Trap:
1. Error Rate
University of Hawaii did a study on spreadsheet error rate and found that one percent of all formulas have errors. Further, when spreadsheet formulas were double-checked, less than 20% of those errors were caught.
2. No Single Version
Spreadsheets are copied and shared all over the place. Each time this happens a new version is created and everything quickly gets out of sync as changes are made.
Often the most current version of a spreadsheet is on someone’s desktop computer hard drive.
4. Security Risk
Spreadsheets are often emailed due to their packaged up portability, but rarely do we think about where those emails are going and what kind of risk we are being exposed to.
5. Wasting Time
Maintaining a spreadsheet requires a whole lot of repetitive tasks.
6. Outdated Information
Being that a spreadsheet can’t easily be fed live data, they’re usually updated after the fact and therefore, are out of date.
7. Not Scalable
As you add more and more data and formulas to your spreadsheet you are going to be spending more time manually updating it and you are going to have more errors.
8. Copy and Paste
You can’t integrate data across multiple spreadsheets easily. This leads to a lot of copying and pasting of data, leading again to problems with staying in sync and more things to update manually.
Here are a few signs that you’re falling into this trap. If you’re facing these issues…get out fast!
- You and your staff are routinely checking spreadsheets on the network (or worse, emailing them to each other) to check on live business activity
- It is critical that you share all or parts of the information within a spreadsheet to effectively collaborate with multiple people (vendors, customers, virtual office co-workers)
- Data is being copied or re-entered from multiple places in order to provide executive dashboards
Bizelo designs real mini apps that work simply and simply work. Most of the mini apps we have created and grown started with a simple need that a lot of our customers had tried to address over and over again using spreadsheets. Whether its inventory management, scheduling, or customer relationship management we’ve all tried doing it and it’s just not effective.
If you’re falling into the Spreadsheet-as-App Trap let us know what you’re trying to do. If we find that a lot of businesses like yours are faced with the same problem, we can work together to solve it.