Excel spreadsheets are passé

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Launched in 1985 for Mac and two years later for Windows, the first version of Excel was an advancement in spreadsheet technology. A great new tool to help sort, manipulate and present data; one that supported the automation of repetitive tasks.

Thirty years is a long time in technology. Using spreadsheets to manage inventory, financials and business reporting is costing your company time and money. Here’s five reasons why:

One: Inefficient

Time spent manually counting stock and entering data into the spreadsheets is slow. Not only are mistakes easy to make but they are hard to find. There is the ongoing chance of duplication or lost data. If two or more people are editing the same workbook there is potential for disaster where one lot of the data inputted is saved over the other.

Compatibility issues also occur, with users operating from different locations and using assorted software versions that cause discrepancies of data and the need to recount stock, which is both unproductive and time consuming.

Two: Inaccurate

The reality with manual spreadsheets is that they will always be out-of-date and out-of-sync with actual inventory counts. The ability to duplicate spreadsheets potentially means not all users are working from the same document or even the same version of Excel.

Transferring data manually, by the process of copying and pasting from one spreadsheet to another may leave you susceptible to mistakes occurring where pre-set formulas do not carry over.

Three: Gremlins

We are not talking the Warner Bros variety of gremlin that shouldn’t be fed after midnight or exposed to bright light. These are the various blips in the spreadsheets that don’t allow two documents with the same name to be opened – regardless of being saved in separate folders, or the inability to seamlessly integrate with its office-mate Microsoft Word.

Excel also has issues with modulo operations, where instead of answers, the program returns error warnings in cases of excessively large numeric results.

Four: Risky

Incomplete spreadsheets or hidden cells not appearing in printed reports could have you relying on dubious calculations. Leading to reordering errors which result in inventory shortages or overstocking.

The failure to investigate underlying assumptions based on obliviousness to errors, the overall inefficiency of spreadsheets as a business tool, and the various bugs in the program pose the risk of using unreliable data for business forecast decisions.

Five: They don’t provide real-time data

Excel templates cannot provide multi-user access enabling employees to view the same up-to-date information from anywhere, at any time, in real-time. Not only do they mean you need to scroll through rows and columns of spreadsheet material but you can forget the idea of at-a-glance facts and figures.

The evolution away from Excel

Just as businesses need to evolve to remain competitive, so must the tools employed to improve business efficiencies and competitive advantage.

Leveraging technology will help, and for each reason spreadsheets are outdated, the opposite applies to software management systems. Software provides functionality to improve efficiencies, reduce waste and avoid the risks associated with off-line spreadsheets.

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Melanie - Unleashed Software

Article by Melanie Chan in collaboration with our team of Unleashed Software inventory and business specialists. Melanie has been writing about inventory management for the past three years. When not writing about inventory management, you can find her eating her way through Auckland.

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