Have we outgrown Excel?

One of the most common issues we hear of are from businesses who have data held in one or multiple excel spreadsheets that were fine a few years ago. However, as the team has grown, people have moved on, or the complexity and quantity of data increases these Excel sheets become a drain on resource time and are a bottleneck for the business. This is particularly true where multiple users need to work on the same document which then leads to fragmentation and merging of data which is prone to mistakes.

By moving your business to a custom software solution you can still replicate much of the process you currently have but benefit from multiple efficiencies including:

  • Adding validation rules to improve data consistency
  • Make data easier to query and report on with custom searching and tailored reporting
  • Automate repetitive tasks, saving time
  • Empower people to share and update data
  • Enable employees to work on value add tasks rather than administration

You use these tools every day

A cabinet maker has numerous ways that they could remove small amounts of wood from a large piece; they might saw, plane, sand, rasp or file, and it’s likely that in the construction of a single cabinet they may use all of these techniques. A highly skilled cabinet maker who only has a plane to work with will never achieve their best work, and the same is true for your team too.

Using tools that haven’t been designed to do exactly the job you need them to is inefficient, and this inefficiency costs you time and money. Whether it’s navigating through parts of the tool that aren’t needed in your workflow, or trying to bend the rules of the system to fit your needs are all a cost to the business.

Spotting when you’ve outgrown Excel

One of the main issues with clients who are in this position is that they aren’t aware of quite how inefficient their processes have become. After all, no-one sets out to create an inefficient way of doing a task. It’s just reality that over time as needs change, these Excel sheets become more complicated.

Often the biggest barrier to solving the issue can be the people who are closest to the coal face. They know their solutions’ quirks and know exactly what they need to do to achieve their outcomes. The perceived risk to these people of changing this process, and things breaking can often in their mind outweigh the benefits of creating a more efficient way to do things.

A prime example of this was with one of our clients who had over 10 spreadsheets that were needed to run a batch of processes for business reporting. Over time, the reporting requirements grew, and once a week, one member of the team was arriving at work at 05:00 to have all the reports prepared in time for people to arrive at 08:00.

Whilst this is a fairly extreme example, much of the work required to produce the reports was easy to automate, and once we were able to assess the data inputs and outputs we worked with them to produce an efficient system that turned multiple hours of work into around 20 minutes. As multiple people could work on the system at once, much of the pressure on the one person that was previously required to do all the reporting was shared amongst the team, and the whole team were able to focus on value add tasks that they previously could not achieve.

If this scenario sounds familiar it’s worth considering whether bespoke software could improve productivity for your business.

If you are considering your next bespoke software project, get in touch.

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