Once upon a time, spreadsheets were a holy grail and a force to be reckoned with. Spreadsheets revolutionized how business was done by offering a way to collect and organize data. Companies relied on them for almost everything in the business ranging from accounting to sales and even operations. They used the software to analyze data while generating reports.
However, spreadsheets are slowly becoming outdated. They can no longer keep up with the needs of our tech-forward world and changing business requirements. This article offers reasons businesses must upgrade their primary source of data consumption from spreadsheets to better alternatives.
Shortcomings of spreadsheets
Spreadsheets have numerous flaws. Below are the main ones.
· Vulnerable to fraud and data loss
Spreadsheets do not have automatic audit tracking, making them easy to manipulate. Someone can easily change values, formulas and dependencies on a spreadsheet without detection. Also, spreadsheets lack data recovery mechanisms and hence vulnerable to data loss.
· Susceptible to costly human errors
If you've ever built a monolithic pivot table only to find out one of your formulas has a flaw, then spent the next 8 hours crawling every cell to find the issue - this section is for you.
Did you know that 88% of spreadsheets have mistakes? Although spreadsheets are invaluable for streamlining calculations, they are vulnerable to human errors that can cause massive damage and financial losses. In 2012, a simple copy and paste Excel error cost JP Morgan Chase around $6.5 billion.
· Regulatory compliance challenges
When you combine point 1 and 2, you get a significant headache for regulatory compliance. Spreadsheet-based systems are likely to compromise regulations like Sarbanes-Oxley, EU data protection, and FAS 157.
· Limit collaboration
Planning, budgeting, and reporting require the input of different people and departments in a business. Spreadsheets allow only one person to access and edit data at a go. The only way you can collaborate on a spreadsheet is through email or OTS (over the shoulder) technology. Such means of exchanging data can bring errors, data duplication and/or waste an incredible amount of resources having multiple people stare at one person's computer screen.
· Difficult to consolidate
Generating organizational reports using spreadsheets is complicated and time-consuming. You need first to collect data from different files, summarize them, and then forward them to department heads. The department heads then consolidate data from various spreadsheets before submitting to their superiors. The trend continues until the reports reach the decision-makers. IF (and that is a big if) all the datasets have identical headers and structure, data is subject to error-prone tasks like copy-paste and cell entry.
· Unfit for the current business landscape
Many changes and developments such as technologies, M&As, climate change, and new business strategies are shaping the modern-day business landscape. Also, as competition intensifies, businesses are looking for agile business practices to keep them ahead of the pack. Spreadsheets can neither keep up with all these changes nor help companies to stay competitive. Also, they are unsuitable for business continuity because data is fragmented.
The Better Option -Dashboards
With all these shortcomings of spreadsheets, businesses should look for better options. A time for change has come. Your business can't afford the horror stories of spreadsheets. You can't afford fraud, costly mistakes, limited collaboration, and data loss in this internet age. Dashboards address most of the shortcomings of spreadsheets. Below are five reasons to upgrade from spreadsheets and invest in dashboards.
1. One source of truth
Dashboards keep all your data in one place. They combine your spreadsheets, CRMs, ERPs, and EHRs and offer you a central location for your data. You get a clear picture of your organization without having to navigate from one data source to another. Recurring reports and calculations can be saved and ran at specific intervals making the Combination of data from multiple systems efficient, saving time and resources.
2. Real-time reporting
With dashboards, you can generate a report with one click of a button. You don't have to consolidate data from different files and spreadsheets that is both time-consuming and labor-intensive. You can schedule your dashboard to generate reports in real-time. For example, if you need weekly reports, you can schedule the dashboard to create them from all your systems automatically.
The automatic generation of reports has positive outcomes for saving time, reducing human errors, and making timely decisions. You don't have to wait for hours or even days to get that report a potential investor requested for. Real-time reporting allows you to monitor employee and organizational performance.
Have you ever tried opening a spreadsheet document on your phone? It's a daunting process, and you can hardly see anything. Luckily, dashboards are mobile-friendly. You can access dashboards on your phone hustle-free just like you can on your desktop and tablet.
Forget about the thousands of Excel rows and columns you have to navigate to get the data you are looking for. With dashboards, everything is at your fingertips. You can quickly and easily get the data you are searching for without taking much time and effort. Dashboards are easy to navigate.
4. Data drilldown
One of the prominent features of dashboards are data drilldowns. Unlike spreadsheets, dashboards have the ability to dig dipper into data. With spreadsheets, you can only scroll to get to the bottom of a page, not to dig deeper into data.
Dashboards offer snapshots of data that are easily understandable. They also go a mile further to give data drilldowns to reveal more details about data. Such data drilldown saves time while highlighting new growth opportunities.
5. Better understanding of business
The goal of a dashboard is to give you a better understanding of your business. You understand your past, present, and future and plan for market and industry changes. You can identify ways to attain competitiveness and outshine competitors.
Additionally, your dashboard shows the areas your business is excelling in and those that require improvement. You can work on weak areas to increase efficiency and drive profitability.
The fact that spreadsheets revolutionized the way firms conduct business is undeniable. Spreadsheets have indeed had their day and their place. However, their vast shortcomings are gradually pushing them out of the business world and slowly into the path of extinction.
The ease of access to data is revolutionizing economies. For the first time in history, small businesses have access to data to stay competitive with their large business counterparts. Enterprises are leveraging data analytics to deliver additional value to their customers and stay competitive against smaller, more nimble companies. Positive outcomes like making better decisions, increasing profits, and improving efficiency are all windfalls of using data to make decisions. If you are looking to implement or revitalize your data analytics strategy, contact the experts at Helios for all your data and analytics needs.