When Excel Spreadsheets are not Enough


It is often taken for granted how essential Excel spreadsheets are to the modern business. Among spreadsheet applications, Microsoft Excel has proven itself with almost 3 decades of success and usage. Microsoft Office 2016 was just released and you may be considering updating to it. This is a good time to consider moving some of your operations from an Excel spreadsheet to more robust data management, like a database or customer relationship management software (CRM).

Have You Grown Beyond the Spreadsheet?

There is a point in a business' growth when using Excel spreadsheets for operations will become inefficient or potentially dangerous. It is important to transition to a more robust solution once this growth point has been reached. These conditions can indicate that you have reached this growth point:

  • Information Overload
  • Too Many Cooks

Information Overload

Information overload is when needing a piece of information requires an expedition. It's important that data is available on demand. You can't manage a business when your time is spent trying to find information you already have.

If you are suffering from information overload you may recognize these symptoms:

  • The number of workbooks you have is large enough to require its own filing system. Data shouldn't be spread out; information should be centralized.
  • You have to remember which sheet in which workbook has the right information. You shouldn't need a mental map of where information is located.
  • Your spreadsheets are so full of references and formulas that making any change in one place might break the spreadsheet in another.
  • You spend a lot of time searching for computer tips on managing large workbooks.

See also: Finding the Right CRM for your Business

Too Many Cooks

This problem is exemplified by the networked Excel spreadsheet, and its cousin, the emailed Excel spreadsheet. The networked spreadsheet is a file on a common disk drive that multiple people in the business organization have access to. Updating a commonly used spreadsheet on the network becomes a game of chance. If someone else is editing the file then you are stuck in read-only mode. The emailed file is when a group shares information by emailing a commonly used spreadsheet around. Both are rife with danger spots.

Symptoms of this condition include:

  • You are regularly blocked from updating information because a common resource is locked in use by someone else.
  • Data is forgotten and never entered into the spreadsheet because the workbook was locked for too long.
  • You need computer tips on how to share files around the office successfully
  • You have a pile of sticky notes with information you need to enter into the spreadsheet when you get a chance.
  • There are so many versions of a spreadsheet floating around that no one knows which one is the most up to date.
  • Data keeps getting lost because people forget to send the new version around via email.

Is It Time to Move On?

Microsoft Excel in Microsoft Office 2016 is even better than the versions before it, but it is still a spreadsheet application. Before upgrading to Microsoft Office 2016 consider the symptoms above. If more than one stands out as a regular problem in your business then consider reviewing your data management practices. Excel is awesome but it's important to recognize when your successful growth has moved your business beyond the spreadsheet.5 Cloud Facts Download

meWritten By Kevin Gray

Hello! I am the Sales Manager and one of the Senior IT Consultants @ EnvisionIT Solutions. I help our clients envision great technology solutions that help their businesses grow.  Let me know if you have any questions. I am an avid outdoorsman who loves fly fishing and camping. I also love sports – soccer, basketball, football….