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Does your business need to move on from spreadsheets?

Last Updated 2022/04/12

As a business owner or manager, you may find your operations divided between a number of spreadsheets. Everything from accounts and budgeting to staff records and appointments, all needing to be constantly updated to avoid incomplete records or missing out on work opportunities.

There are a number of ways in which spreadsheets are an imperfect tool for running a company, even a small business with a handful of staff. You might find spreadsheets to be satisfactory in terms of keeping up with work, but you should still consider whether a faster more flexible option is more suitable for you. If your business is growing, then the complexity involved in a higher turnover or product selection could make implementing an alternative necessary.

Human error

Even though spreadsheets can automatically calculate figures, allowing for quite complex tasks, the original information is entered by human users. Data entry, or copying and pasting from other sources can lead to errors, that even if they start small, cause major problems further down the line. One wrong figure for a price or percentage applied over and over again in multiple calculations has the potential to lead to high costs and headaches.

Fraud

If you have large spreadsheets with thousands of rows and columns, it’s clear to see how fraudulent entries and changes could be made without anybody noticing. As there is no standard way to alert you when something is out of place, or a chronological log of changes, details could be altered significantly without you being any the wiser. To spot anything amiss, lengthy and expensive auditing procedures may have to be carried out.

Unconnected

Superficially, spreadsheets have similarities to databases, but are lacking important features of the latter in many respects. Relationships between different tables in a database can be established, allowing for complex queries to be run, to produce detailed statistics and records. Mass updates to large tables can be made with the right queries. Programming skills are required, but the flexibility and range of operations available far surpass a spreadsheet based solution.

Collaboration difficulties

Spreadsheets are not ideally suited for collaboration. Problems arise when multiple copies of what are supposed to be the same spreadsheet are kept and updated separately on the hard drives of a number of users. This inevitably leads to confusion and poor record keeping. Even with the rise of cloud based spreadsheet solutions like Google Sheets, that allow collaborative updates in real time, it is hard to discern who entered what and when.

Security issues

Even though a spreadsheet can be password protected, there are a lack of more sophisticated security features such as different employee access levels, or two-factor authentication. The practice of emailing spreadsheets between staff and clients leaves large security gaps, especially in the age of large scale hacks and advanced malware. Many viruses have been distributed through spreadsheet files, causing major problems for large organisations. Ideally, you want a method of updating data with accessibility and security, without compromising on either.

Make the switch

SwiftCase is a centralised, cloud-based business management process platform that allows for secure, flexible access to information. Update records in real-time as you work, without having to enter the same data over and over again.

If you’re interested in the business growth and productivity benefits that come from moving on from spreadsheets and other documents, get in touch for a free, no obligation demonstration today.

Adam Sykes