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The Hidden Cost of Spreadsheets & Spreadsheet Alternatives

Working within a manual spreadsheet system isn’t the most efficient way to do business. It can also end up costing a company in both the short term and the long run. 

Imagine, for example, a company trying to come up with consistent processes to do business. When multiple people fill out spreadsheets, their tracking, data entry, and project checks may be inconsistent with the previous employee. 

As it’s a manual process, the organization works in isolation rather than optimizing operations across the board. And that’s just one example. The cost of doing nothing determines a company’s bottom line, as higher-ups work to identify inefficiencies in a system that needs dramatic revamping.

Moving to spreadsheet alternatives is an easy way to improve workflow efficiencies on a fundamental level.

Let’s take a closer look at the hidden costs of spreadsheets and how Trinity can help improve your business processes to work for you rather than against you.

Missing Information

Unorganized spreadsheets can leave out important information and data. With a manual spreadsheet, it’s harder to catch minor mistakes that can lead to big problems and losses down the line.

Also, with multiple people adding to a spreadsheet, it becomes more challenging to catch time overlaps or scheduling conflicts. There is typically no audit trail to see errors when they happen, making it impossible to decipher when and how a mistake happened.

A Better Alternative

Imagine folding 15 tabs of manual spreadsheets into one streamlined system, where data is not only consolidated in one application but automated to catch errors in reporting. Automated systems with built-in processes for audit trails reduce human errors, saving a company money and time in the long run.

Limits to Collaboration

Manual spreadsheets promote working in isolation, making it difficult to see the big picture, errors in data entry, and even access to improvements for efficiency standards at a company. Even if you’re working within a system that allows others to participate in spreadsheet maintenance, it can be difficult to monitor changes over time. Any conflicts in the reporting have to be manually addressed, leading to more paper, emails, and an inefficient hunt for information.

Additionally, spreadsheets are typically formatted to be used by one person at a time, limiting collaboration by their very design. Even when shared, spreadsheets are not scalable, which makes collaborations extremely difficult. Limits on email attachment size add to their inaccessibility. The rise in remote work and the necessity for remote access to company documents makes this issue incredibly taxing.

Spreadsheets limit creativity, as well. Their formats often do not allow for add-ons, like graphics, to explain data or changes to data. Numbers and data may not always tell the full story.

A Better Alternative

Application platforms make it easy to do things like set up alerts for relevant stakeholders, share information across teams, and make sure data gets in front of the people who need to see it. Cloud-based systems improve collaboration on a team by giving everyone access to the systems in place, no matter where they are. In companies where remote work has become the norm, easy-to-access secure networks are critical to a business’s health.

Quality Control 

Companies using spreadsheets to keep track of subtleties and minor changes can face issues that affect quality control on a larger scale. Being unable to resolve problems quickly can affect the customer experience.

Ineffective quality control limits efficient workflow, particularly if company heads must approve spreadsheets from one iteration to the next. Customers who are not satisfied with a company’s performance may be motivated to seek a higher quality control level, leading to overall profit losses.

A Better Alternative

Cloud-based solutions improve accountability on a team, as all changes are automatically tracked and updated immediately. You don’t have to worry about updating and upgrading your systems, either, as that’s automatic, too. Quality control becomes more consistent with automated systems in place.

Missing the Big Picture

Issues with manual spreadsheets are often challenging to track, found in email chains or notes from in-person interactions. It can also be hard to see who is working on what and how long it took them to complete a task. Wasting time on administrative tasks like sending spreadsheets from one entity to another means employees aren’t spending time on a company’s long-term goals. That’s a drain on resources and company time that could be better spent elsewhere.

A Better Alternative

Automated systems take the time-consuming work of spreadsheet management, from collecting information to correcting misinformation, off the plates of workers who could be doing something more meaningful to the company’s bottom line. Employees can return time saved on those administrative tasks to project goals.

A Lack of Digital and Mobile Access

We’ve long since entered the digital age, and companies concerned by inefficient business processes will look for ways to innovate and reduce the reliance on manual tasks, like spreadsheets.  

With remote work here to stay for the foreseeable future, it’s also essential to consider mobile accessibility for employees. Spreadsheets should be able to be updated from wherever an employee is working. They should also be a secure method of doing business when employees are sending spreadsheets over insecure networks. Unfortunately, basic spreadsheet formats don’t always meet these standards. Instead, limitations on what employees can do based on where they’re working from costs money and time on the backend.

A Better Alternative

Access to mobile software allows workers to be more productive, as they have access to what they need no matter where they are. Using a cloud-based platform increases overall security, as well, as team members aren’t having to send spreadsheets back and forth or store information on personal devices. 

Quick Base: A Spreadsheet Alternative That Works for You

For spreadsheet alternatives, companies have quite a few options. Trinity has been a Quick Base Solution Provider for over 15 years, supporting businesses in centralizing their data, improving their efficiency, and automating manual processes, like spreadsheet management. If you’re ready to take the steps in optimizing your business process and see how Quick Base can be the spreadsheet alternative that works for you, Trinity is here to help you get started.

Scott Burday

Exciting News! Trinity acquires BlueWell Group! Unlock new possibilities.