Spreadsheets have been around for a long time and I certainly run the risk of dating myself by referring to my use of VisiCalc or Lotus 123 many moons ago. I love spreadsheets and use them all the time for a variety of tasks such as sales forecasting, loan amortization, cash flow forecasting, etc. Spreadsheets are wonderful tools designed for crunching numbers and that’s where they Excel (excuse the pun).
Unfortunately spreadsheets are also used to perform tasks they were never designed to do and this can result in major problems for corporations if it gets out of hand. I refer to this as spreadsheet abuse and unfortunately it’s more common that you think.
Spreadsheets should never be used for managing data and this, in particular, is where they are abused the most. We often see people using spreadsheets for managing data like customer lists, inventory, projects, etc. This can cause all kinds of issues, for example, it does not have multi-user capability so only one person at a time can update a spreadsheet. It’s therefore not a suitable solution for sharing data in an office with other people. It’s difficult to enforce data integrity using a spreadsheet and this can result in inconsistent data entry and over time the data becomes difficult if not impossible to do any kind of data analysis. In addition, spreadsheets only offer limited accessibility outside the office so it’s virtually impossible to access important data remotely.
Perhaps the most serious problem for corporations is that data contained in spreadsheets is not centralized or easily accessible and therefore it holds no value for the organization. If valuable corporate data is stored in spreadsheets an organization will function very inefficiently and it will cost the organization dearly in lost productivity.
Valuable corporate data needs to be stored in a database so it can be shared, managed, analyzed, protected and used in a manner that increases the organizations productivity and improved their decision making ability by having accurate data readily available to the people that need it.
If you believe that someone in your organization is a spreadsheet abuser the hotline to call is 800-650-8882. We would be happy to help.