We all use them, some of us love them, some would rather be locked in a room with a ravenous lion than use another business spreadsheet. But, the big question, are spreadsheets still useful in business?
Obviously, they have their advantages and disadvantages, but most people are unaware of what these actually are. Therefore, I’ve compiled a list of the most important ones below. For the full list of pros and cons and further options for alternative software to the business spreadsheet, download our free eBook here.
Disadvantages of spreadsheets
Errors here, errors there, errors everywhere
according to a study carried out by Forbes, 88% of spreadsheets contain at least one error. This means that nine out of ten spreadsheets in your company right now contain spelling mistakes, miscalculations or formatting errors.
=CHOOSE(choice, option1, option2, option3)
=LEN(text) and =TRIM(text)
Don’t worry, your computer hasn’t crashed, it’s just a list of popular formulas that are used in Excel. From a long-term perspective, some of these formulas are useful, but it requires a lot of time and effort to learn them. Generally, most people will go and find their company’s Excel wizard to write the formulas for them – not a great use of their time.
Your data is siloed with no visualization
We now live in a fast-moving, data-rich world where data is combined for easier collaboration and visualization, think dashboards and fancy graphs. Spreadsheets keep data separate due to files not being located on a single system so restrict data visualization.
Sure, users can create charts and graphs in spreadsheets, but ‘create’ is the key word here. They’re time-consuming, fixed at a certain data set and don’t offer enough ways to portray data.
Advantages of spreadsheets
It’s easy to make multiple calculations
The whole point of a spreadsheet is to calculate values quickly and easily. Using equations and formulas, you can set cells to calculate data for you in a number of ways. This makes it easier to create totals or tallies that can be used for monitoring, analysis or create other data points that are necessary to your business.
Multiple spreadsheets, one file
The tab structure within spreadsheet software makes it easy to combine multiple spreadsheets into a single file. If you wanted to keep track of your sales team’s commission, you could create a running record in a spreadsheet for an entire month’s worth of payments. You could then put all 12 months of the year into one overall spreadsheet file, allowing you to easily tab through individual monthly spreadsheets.
They’re a universal file format
Much like PDFs, .xls, .xlsx, .csv or .txt can be opened by most programs. This availability has been one of their points of success. The familiarity and availability of spreadsheets have cemented it as the ‘first thought’ for most people when they need to create a document.
For more information about the advantages and disadvantages of business spreadsheets, download our eBook for free.