Ah, the spreadsheet. Such a wonderful and helpful tool in many cases. With several options from Excel to Google Sheets, they are extremely accessible and very easy to use. It’s understandable why so many businesses use them as the key part to running operations, especially early on.
But in time, spreadsheets can quickly flip on us from being a benefit, to the bane of our existence. As a business grows, so too does the amount of information that must be collected, managed, and analyzed. Navigating the increased data and the insight to be gained from it is crucial for continued growth. So when your needs start to outpace the capabilities of your spreadsheets, this once critical tool begins strangling your business’s potential for growth and success. Check out some of the common pain points which may be indicators that it’s time for a change.
Some of the most common red flags are:
- Quantity of data – Larger amounts of data will become time-consuming to parse and translate into meaningful insight. Additionally, when the quantity of data becomes too large and complex, many spreadsheets become slower and less responsive.
- Inconsistency and inaccuracy – As your team grows, more and more people will be contributing to the data input. The chance for human error will begin to increase, and inconsistencies with how data is entered from user to user becomes overwhelming to manage. Both of these can result in flawed insights and poor decisions being made from bad data.
- Version management – When spreadsheets are being passed around, you run the risk of outdated information. This can happen because team members may have local versions while making updates. When multiple people are making simultaneous updates, data loss when an older version overwrites a new one becomes a very real risk. Trying to manage the situation only takes more time and resources away from your business.
- Repetitive and duplicate entry – Data overlap is inevitable when multiple spreadsheets are being used to track accounting, inventory, customers, projects, and other processes. The same data must be entered in multiple spreadsheets manually, wasting valuable time. Every time a piece of data changes, it must be updated in multiple locations, leading to more time wasted. All this increases the chances exponentially for out-of-date, inconsistent, and incorrect information across the entire organization.
- Significant impact of errors – There are multiple cases of companies losing millions of dollars simply because of spreadsheet errors. During the London Olympics, a typo caused the sale of 20,000 tickets instead of 10,000. This resulted in a lot of refunds and costly upgrades when people showed up and didn’t have seats. Similarly, in the 90s a tax accountant at Fidelity Investments made a costly mistake. The accountant accidentally left out a minus sign. This incident resulted in a $2.6 billion error. Ouch!
You can see how these problems can continue to compound one another and eventually snowball into a frustrating and intolerable situation. Alongside success and expansion, most businesses experience these types of growing pains at some point. When the risk or impact of these types of drawbacks becomes untenable, it’s time to move on to specialized or custom software that is better suited to your business’s needs.
We at Dorian Solutions are here to help your business navigate the next steps. As you step into the daunting process of researching off-the-shelf or custom solutions, we offer consultation to evaluate your situation and make recommendations. If your needs don’t quite fit with existing software, we specialize in alternatives like integration or full custom software development as appropriate. All of our efforts keep your business needs at the center of everything we do. Our top goal is to set you up for success and get you back to growing your business and not just running it.