Wednesday 6 August 2014

Here is why you need to break free from spreadsheet Tradition

Be it a million dollar company’s manager or housewife handling finances electronically, excel spread sheet has spread its use in every corner of our computing environment. Perhaps it’s the most used software tool to manage project, data, visualizing and reporting tables and charts since last decade. Regardless of organization size, excel could be a tool employees open as often as the email. This made me wonder whether we need extensive software systems or excel is enough to manage projects and data.
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First let’s get down to the basics and consider the 3 main advantages of excel sheet.

Free:  Well, it comes with the office package, but it’s already installed in the computer and ready to use! Most of the companies use Microsoft office. This could be one of the reason Excel is used widely.

Easy to use: Excel is always at your fingertips. Do you need to copy data? Do you need pivot charts? Or perhaps any type of charts? Excel is right there for you. And forget about the training, excel is as basic as alphabets in computing world.

Presentation:  One of the main reason everyone uses excel is because the data that is stored can be presented easily in different formats like charts and tables. You can also send data to your manager within minutes or copy it to the PowerPoint slides.
While this seems like perfect reason to bask in the glory of excel as software tool, changing computing environment is posing many challenges in the way we operate project and handle data.

Data security: Deleting a row or column is as easy as lifting finger, in an excel file.  Combine that with human error and no control over who-updates-what, you have ticking bomb situation for your data security. 

Data errors: Long formulas and no control over data templates can lead to erroneous data input. Maintaining audit log of what, when and who has changed data would be a nightmare.

Mobility and Collaboration:  While the whole world is moving towards cloud, sharing the excel data and keep it up to date is a clumsy task.  While opening excel in any mobile device is convenient, maintaining a project and updating the records are not easy. Since the data is stored locally, collaborative computing would pose different set of problems like concurrent update, loss of original data etc.

Scalability: As the organization grows, systems get more distributed multiplying all the problems mentioned above exponentially. This would lead to departments managing data locally. Collating data from multiple departments for overall reporting would require a full time resource.

Compliance: Combine above points and you get a big headache of non-compliance in your next audit. In all regards, spreadsheets are created for individuals to manage data and in no way suitable for agile business practices.  

It’s easy to get locked up in the spread sheet tradition, rather than investing on possibilities and benefits offered by professional systems.  But it’s also vital to break free from it, to move forward in the emerging computing industry.  At PsiberTech, we believe in customized solutions for your needs. Contact us to know how you can translate your current excel documents into meaningful, intuitive and easy to use apps.

Srivatsan Aravamudan

Srivatsan Aravamudan

Design and Communication

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