5 reasons to ditch spreadsheets

 

Research shows that 90% of spreadsheet documents contain errors and approximately 50% of spreadsheets used by large businesses result in material defects.

Yikes.

Sure, not all spreadsheet mistakes are catastrophic, but it’s hard to predict the impact of a missing negative sign, out of place parenthesis, or a cut-and-paste error until after they happen.

So, why do spreadsheets still remain one of the most frequently used tools for managing critical business processes, especially when money, jobs, and brand reputation are on the line?

If you’re stuck relying on spreadsheets because of outdated technology, consider these 5 reasons for finding a better way to manage your data.

  1. Poor collaboration and version control

    Let’s face it: spreadsheets were designed for individuals, not teams. Only one person
    can access and input data at a single time. If your processes require multiple users, it can be challenging to keep track of all the files, which party is updating them, where they need to go, and which version is correct. Using online spreadsheets isn’t helpful either, as multiple users can input data at the same time, leaving more room for errors. How do you track who accessed the spreadsheet last? How do you know what edits were made and when? Well, you don’t. Spreadsheets lack any built-in audit tracking function.

  2. Potential for serious errors

    With multiple users working on the same spreadsheet, it can be very easy to create duplicate versions containing erroneous data and distribute them throughout an organization. Human errors that seem minor can do real damage to your business operations. Overlooked mistakes can result in reports and information that lead to poor business strategies and decisions. Many users who handle spreadsheets are unfamiliar with the best methods for storing and backing up documents. This could make data recovery impossible in the event that a disaster strikes, resulting in financial losses. Data may be scattered about in multiple documents, on several machines, or even in geographically disparate areas. This can make the process of tracking down errors extremely difficult and time-consuming.

  3. Delayed and messy reporting

    Management needs timely and accurate information to make decisions. Getting data out “right now” is a top priority. This can be a difficult expectation to meet when using spreadsheets, as the data is often coming from multiple sources or departments. Consolidating data from multiple spreadsheets is time-consuming and can also be prone to errors with multiple people managing the process. If you need real-time insights or want to report on trends, spreadsheets aren’t the solution.

  4. Costly and unscalable

    The upfront cost of spreadsheet software tends to be minimal. Some options, like Google Docs, are available for free while other application licenses for programs such as Microsoft Excel are affordable options for businesses. While the initial price tag for spreadsheet software is low, there can be high hidden costs associated with these solutions, including security and data integrity problems, lack of user permissions, complicated reporting, and inefficient workflow capabilities.

  5. Lack of security controls

    Beyond basic read/review/edit controls, there’s not much else you can control from a security standpoint. User or group-level permissions aren’t an option and there are no configurations or settings to help enforce testing standards. Without these standards, you have zero consistency across projects, which further complicates data integrity and reports. Spreadsheets are also vulnerable to malicious manipulation. Documents created with these programs can be easily corrupted and are susceptible to fraud. Malicious parties can easily change values, dependencies, and formulas without being found, making organizations susceptible to financial losses and other serious liabilities.

 

Even the most carefully-maintained spreadsheets still have errors in 1% of all formula cells. See what small mistakes cost these 11 companies a shocking amount of money.

 

 

 

 

 

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