When It Pays To Consider An Alternative To Spreadsheets

10 July, 2017 Blog, General

When It Pays To Consider A Spreadsheet Alternative

Spreadsheets are a handy tool for businesses, but as companies grow, processes that once ran smoothly in a spreadsheet can start to hinder productivity and cause issues. This blog explores the reasons and situations that often encourage businesses to consider an alternative to spreadsheets for managing their operational processes and associated information.

It’s estimated that one billion people use Excel spreadsheets (source), and 69% say all or some of the individuals in the department are heavy spreadsheet users in day-to-day jobs (source).

It’s hard to tell when your business should consider an alternative to spreadsheets, but there are signs that your current processes are reducing your productivity and inhibiting business development. We have identified four telltale signs that your spreadsheet processes are no longer working efficiently.

Lack Of Collaboration

Most businesses need more than one employee to access the information, but only one person can use a spreadsheet at a time. Which often results in multiple copies of the same spreadsheet and user frustration from working from out of date information, asking other users to “get out”, suffering corruption. Sharing information from a spreadsheet with other people can sometimes cause problems. For example, if you don’t want someone to have all of the information in the spreadsheet you need to create a separate copy to input all of their relevant information and then merge the two back together, which can be very time-consuming and counter-productive.

Human Error

Like paper-based processes, spreadsheets are prone to human error which can sometimes come at a significant cost for businesses, if you have several employees that input and manage information into a spreadsheet there is a risk that information can be duplicated, removed or inaccurately created. Spreadsheets offer limited validation capabilities and constraints.

Compliance/Audit Issues

Spreadsheets do not conform with many industry regulations regarding data protection which can make some businesses vulnerable to non-compliance. Compliance is vital for lots of organisations in a range of industries, also, spreadsheets do not provide an audit trail, so there’s no way to identify when information was added, how it was changed and by which user.

Limited Security

Excel does offer some protection for your spreadsheets, but the level of security isn’t very high, especially for businesses managing sensitive information. If your company currently manages confidential information in a spreadsheet, you will need to consider an alternative.


When spreadsheets are used for their intended purpose, they are a useful, functional business tool, but when a company starts to grow managing business information and processes through a spreadsheet can cause major issues and be very inefficient. Business processes run by spreadsheets, emails bouncing around or paper based are signs of a company that is limiting its growth and the right time to look for alternatives is not when you are suffering from the problem. If you can relate to one or more of these issues, you should consider implementing professional systems as an alternative to spreadsheets.


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