Spreadsheets. Not a word that invokes a feeling of excitement or visions of innovation However, spreadsheets remain the backbone of most companies. It has been estimated that Microsoft Excel has approximately 800 million users. Google Sheets, a relative newcomer to the spreadsheet game is estimated to have approximately 170 million users.
Spreadsheets are a universal language; every business, from startups to Fortune 500 companies, relies on spreadsheets. Furthermore, spreadsheets are used in nearly every task a company performs, including customer lists, financial statements, and tax analysis. Spreadsheets are truly an integral part of the modern business.
While users have made some incredible things with spreadsheets (for some truly amazing creations check out this article), spreadsheets are not without their limitations:
1. Data is manually imported
The most effective companies take proactive steps to ensure their continued success. This cannot be done when relying on spreadsheets. The most common way of pulling data into spreadsheets is manually downloading and importing it. 43% of workers manually copy and paste information into spreadsheets! (2019 State of Data Science and Analytics). This means that the data being analyzed is always out of date. Further, manually copying and pasting information leads to manual errors. Making decisions based on old and potentially error-filled data is not a recipe for success.
2. Multiple versions
As spreadsheets need to be manually updated each time they are pulled, it is common for there to be multiple versions floating around. Each worker may make their own changes and revisions, which means no two versions are the same. Additionally, with different versions being emailed around the company, it is difficult to know when the source data was last updated in a particular version of the spreadsheet without meticulous documentation. This lack of consistency can lead to confusion amongst team members, resulting in unnecessary delays.
3. They are slow
Everything about spreadsheets is slow. As more information is imported into a spreadsheet throughout the year they often are slow to open, lag when running calculations or making changes, and crash. In addition to the delays caused by the programs themselves, making meaningful changes takes forever. Employees spend an average of 7 hours per week manually updating formulas, pivot tables, and cell or sheet references (2019 State of Data Science and Analytics). This burns through company resources, limiting the ability to produce deeper analytical insights and focus on innovating and generating additional revenue.
Despite all of these flaws companies continue to rely heavily on spreadsheets for the most important aspects of their business. It is not surprising, spreadsheets are easy to understand for non-technical employees and the barrier to entry to begin using them is quite low.
Overcoming Spreadsheets Limitations
Just because businesses are going to continue relying on spreadsheets, doesn’t mean that they should continue to have to deal with their limitations. At Abada Solutions we focus on automating spreadsheets.
Utilizing Alteryx, It is now possible to automatically connect to the various data sources used throughout a company. This data can then be manipulated and pushed out to BI and other data visualization tools, or back into spreadsheets. When pushing data back out into spreadsheets, previous versions can be automatically overwritten to ensure that all users are looking at the same real-time data. Best of all, the process is incredibly fast—freeing up employees to focus on producing deeper insights and generating additional revenue. For example, we automated a monthly financial reporting process previously done exclusively in spreadsheets. This resulted in a reduction from 240 working hours down to 35 seconds. Learn more about how we did it here.
If you and your team are still spending hours each week working in spreadsheets we can save you time and money by automating your spreadsheet processes. Learn more about Abada Solutions, by checking out our website or reaching out to us on Linkedin.
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