With an estimated 1 billion people using Excel, Microsoft has made a pretty powerful piece of software. Whether you love or hate spreadsheets ,they do have a vital role in almost every business, especially when it comes calculating data.
So, why are spreadsheets destroying your business?
The answer is simple…
- They’re time consuming
- They ‘re difficult to understand
- They’re prone to errors
1. They’re time consuming
According to research conducted by Ventana, spreadsheet users spend 12-18 hours each month maintaining their business spreadsheets. This includes data cleansing, updating, revising and consolidating information. This research isn’t limited to a certain type of business or industry; it covers small-to-medium businesses right up to large enterprises. Furthermore, the research shows that senior management too gets bogged down in spreadsheet hell!
The assembly of data is time consuming even before any analysis has begun. Ventana reports that to answer just one question, 81% of professionals are combining five spreadsheets, and 75% of employees are not analytical enough to handle processes quickly or, more importantly, accurately. This results in wasted time for inaccurate reports – what’s the point?
Spreadsheets means you’re burning through payroll, losing precious time and resources to concentrate on other business critical activities and let’s face it: business spreadsheets aren’t the most enjoyable and motivating aspect of a working day.
2. They’re difficult to understand
Our brains process a large quantity of data every second, but we’re more geared for visual processing than numerical; We can process a visual scene ten times faster because fifty percent of our brains are wired to do just that.
‘You remember 80% of what you see, 20% of what you read and 10% of what you hear’.
So with that in mind, are spreadsheets still an effective way to understand information? Probably not.
Yes you may get the business answers you require over time, trawling through a massive business spreadsheet, misinterpreting information along the way and becoming utterly bored in the process. However, all you really need is revenue-impacting decisions available whenever you need them in a visually easy to comprehend format. Spreadsheets are not the right tool for this.
3. They’re prone to errors
Spreadsheets are generally created by people, or are the result of an export from a system that a person has later modified. I’m afraid to say it, but we are not perfect and we all make mistakes. Research suggests that 88% of business spreadsheets contain errors, which means that nine out of ten spreadsheets in your company right now contain spelling mistakes, miscalculations or formatting errors.
A perfect example is a staff member at the 2012 London Olympics (story here) who incorrectly input the number of available seats as 20,000 rather than 10,000. Therefore, 10,000 tickets were oversold causing a multitude of problems and a few angry sports fans!
How do you solve the business spreadsheet headache?
Spreadsheets still have a place in today’s businesses, but not for reporting. There are software solutions available right now that eliminate the time, cost and errors of generating valuable business information. 72% of senior management would like to mine data and generate reports for themselves, without the reliance on IT or other departments. Senior management needs the ability to take action with the most accurate, current information without waiting for reports to be updated.
If your business is heavily reliant on spreadsheets it’s time to make a change. Business Intelligence software or other analytical tools are designed to eliminate the constraints of spreadsheets and vastly improve business efficiency.
For a more in-depth look at spreadsheets and whether they're still useful in the business world, check out our whitepaper here.