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Don’t Fall into the Spreadsheet Trap

Who doesn’t love a beautifully laid out spreadsheet – all those numbers and headings seemingly perfectly organized, perhaps even color-coded for maximum impact. If you have your own business or work for a small business, chances are that you’ve created or used spreadsheet applications such as Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets.

It’s not difficult to understand why. After all, the applications are typically free to use and can be adapted to work for a number of different data capture purposes. Especially when businesses are starting out or in their initial growth phases, spreadsheets seem to be the quickest way to get from point “A” to “B.” And, for most of us, they’re a familiar and comfortable tool and *relatively* easy to use.

But there are clear disadvantages when it comes to relying on spreadsheets to record, analyze, and use data:

  1. Errors are all too common. According to a MarketWatch analysis of multiple studies covering spreadsheet accuracy, nearly 90% contain formulation or data errors. Even the results of a key economic study published by no less than Harvard University were shown to have been derived from faulty Excel calculations. When your business is depending on manual data entry, using techniques such as copying and pasting and merging, it’s not a matter of whether there are errors, but just how many and how significant they are.

  2. You may not be using the right tool for the job. Considering that Excel was rolled out in 1987 – 36 years ago – can it really compete with software that is specifically designed to collect and analyze business data?

  3. Where is the data? Given that Excel files are generated by individual users, how can you possibly keep track of where you’ll find the data you need and whether that data is accurate? And, with a computer virus or a misbehaving hard disk, a locally-kept Excel file may even disappear forever, taking your key data with it.

  4. Is it secure? Excel files are like loose papers – one can easily go astray or be accessed by someone outside its scope and use. Can your business afford that vulnerability?

Don’t get us wrong – Excel can be an excellent tool for certain applications. However, business owners owe it to themselves to look beyond spreadsheet applications to software that better serves their data and business needs. After all, don’t you have enough excitement running your business?

Ready to ditch the spreadsheets? Talk to us.


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