Why spreadsheets are your formula for failure


Someone holding a white the base of a mug that has 'I heart spreadsheets' printed on it.
Actually. I don't. 📸 Photo: Craig Chew-Moulding

A note about this post

This post was imported from my old Wordpress blog so it's old and might not be formatted correctly.

Imagine a world without spreadsheets.

OK, maybe your weekly/monthly/quarterly budgets might be a bit more tricky to manage but I thinking more along the lines of using spreadsheets for things without figures or finances. Don't get me wrong, I don’t dispute the fact that spreadsheet software is great for charting and accountancy – plus, with some VBA trickery you can do some rather clever stuff.

However, there must be a wealth of useful company information entrenched in spreadsheets, hidden deep within folder structures on already cluttered network drives. Sound familiar to you?

I simply don’t understand why so many people turn to age-old bookkeeping software for things like project management, planning, strategy or just simply as a way to present information in a table format. (*shudder*)

By locking information away in a single file, with slim to none collaboration potential, and not even hosting it on cloud storage so others can get to it just seems crazy these days.

To coin a phrase – there’s an app for that. Several in fact. You only have to Google the phrase “project management tools” to end up with a wealth of results, light years beyond the likes of Excel.

I’d be lost without web apps like Basecamp, Trello, Evernote & JIRA (and I’m trying to get into using Slack more as well).

Don’t get me wrong, I respect that people have workflows that suit them. But to me, continuing to use spreadsheets for team based project management is like trying to conduct research without an internet connection. Like trying to brush your teeth with charcoal. Like trying to cross an ocean on a rowing boat.

Sure, they can all be done and produce results but why make life harder than needs to be? With a wealth of tools now available to make you more productive, collaborative and responsive then perhaps there’s no excuse not to be more innovative too.

So here’s my rallying call: let’s release data from cellular bondage and do something good with it.

Over to you - could you live without spreadsheets or are they an essential part of your workflow? Would love to hear your thoughts.