Spreadsheets: the good, the bad and the ugly

Data doesn’t have to be difficult. Change the way you think about spreadsheets to take the hassle out of compiling your company’s information.

Spreadsheet, pencil and red pen on green background

Love them or hate them, spreadsheets are a prevalent tool in the workplace. This is especially true for financial operations like purchasing and spending.

The practical need for spreadsheets lies in their capacity to combine data from different sources, to hold large amounts of data and to process data for reports or in order to present new information.

The pitfalls of spreadsheets

A spreadsheet is a great tool, but it does have limits. It is important to realise those limits to avoid wasting valuable time and resources.

Access issues
While spreadsheets are great for funnelling data from multiple sources into one place, all of those sources (or employees) need access in order to provide you with that information.

You can make one person responsible for data input, but that is a tedious task. You can put the spreadsheet in the cloud for all to access, but you’ll still have other issues to contend with.

Inability to collaborate and monitor
In a traditional spreadsheet, it’s impossible to monitor progress or track changes. There’s no built-in way for the team to collaborate or communicate ideas.

There’s also no way to monitor if everyone has entered data correctly. A lot of time is spent working on formulas that could fail if the wrong information is entered or the right information is entered incorrectly.

Lack of flexibility
Your company is in constant motion. Adding to or changing a spreadsheet isn’t always simple. To keep your data current, you have to continuously be inputting and reorganising data.

If you review a set of data and realise you need another element, reorganising or restarting a spreadsheet can be time consuming.

A spreadsheet by itself has definite disadvantages, but it still has value as a tool. So, how do you circumvent these obstacles to make spreadsheets more helpful than headache?

Data first, spreadsheet later

The problem stems from relying on the spreadsheet rather than focusing on the data.

The solution is a cloud application for purchasing and expenses where you can continuously collect the information that is useful to you. It enables you to overcome the obstacles a traditional spreadsheet presents on its own.

Collaboration is easier. Each employee can independently input their records of purchases or spending data. Everyone works together, but no one has access issues or has to share files.

Efforts are not duplicated. Instead of entering data in multiple places, enter it once in the application and then export it from there.

Your information is always accurate. You export the data you need when you need it. You are exporting directly from the application so you can always get a current set of data.

You can easily access different sets of information. If you need to combine numerous sets of data to see the big picture, you don’t have to redo an entire spreadsheet. You can export a different one.

Spreadsheets are great for combining data into one comprehensive table. But a cloud application can continuously gather the data you use and, at your convenience, you can get the information you need into a spreadsheet to be more efficient, more informed and better equipped for your role.

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