Spreadsheet Blues

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Spreadsheet Blues

­Your weekly meeting is lined up and you want to update project status to higher management. And the agenda of the meeting is - Cut down the operational cost and also the company is suffering from losses due to compliance issues.

You have a stack of paper, a printout of a spreadsheet, and written notes on stick post. The person who used to handle spreadsheet tracking is on sick leave and you have no idea when the last information is updated in spreadsheet and you hadn’t been briefed with recent jobs done. In this scenario what will you do? 

I don’t know a single organization which is not having any challenges, problems, or process related issues. Spreadsheet is our first choice until problem occurs. Usually, in the early stages we track activities or issues by spreadsheets because it’s familiar, and it doesn't take anything as they are not new to us. It does work quite well at first when it is handled by an individual, even analyze data in simple way especially when it comes to historic data. But what happens when you have real time data, multiple users at multiple locations and you need flexibility to track your process at any given time?

Challenges with Spreadsheets:

Spreadsheet is static and Issues are in real time:

By looking at the spreadsheets, the users fail to get the real-time picture of the data because the data is entered by different users at different places and at different time zones. And thus the users are not able to solve the issues in real-time.  

Uncertainty of latest information:

Spreadsheet cannot effectively track the audit trail of changes done to the data and hence the freshness of the data cannot be determined raising uncertainty about the recency of information. 

 Lacking Accountability:

Though the Spreadsheets are shared across the locations, they cannot be access controlled based on the role of the user. So, who changed the data? What exact change was done? when was the change done? etc cannot be traced and thus the spreadsheet lack the accountability. 

 Intangible losses:

Due to difficulties in using huge spreadsheets there can be other intangible losses to the business like - low efficiency of the users, human errors in data, delays in decision making which all leads to an increased operational cost.

Missing the Bird’s Eye View:

Top management are missing the important crux of the information. The decision makers cannot get a bird's eye view or larger picture of the business process to analyze and arrive at corrective decisions.

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