Using Excel is an obvious starting point for any new business, to track performance, day to day processes and record financial information. But as a business grows, so do its processes, meaning multiple excels are required to monitor work across different departments. Each contain valuable information, but rarely work together and require a lot of human input.
If your business is still using excel, you may be experiencing some of the following difficulties. If you are, it’s time to think about making a change.
Errors can quickly escalate because data in Excel is separate from other systems and isn’t automatically updated. Re-keying as well as copy and paste functions are easy to do, but can be risky if done multiple times a day. It is time consuming, open to human error and could cause mistakes that take hours to rectify.
Part of the benefits of using excel is it’s easy to set up, amend and move. However this is also one of its biggest downfalls. Files can be:
Moved or lost, and then tracking them down can waste time and money
Duplicated, and with multiple versions can come multiple problems
Emailed, therefore loosing ownership, creating further duplicates and confusion over the master document
Using Excel requires careful management to prevent errors creeping in. Generally this means one person taking ownership of the file. In reality, this can be difficult. What happens if this person is on holiday, off sick or even in a lengthy meeting?
Sharing the data can also be risky if spreadsheets are accessed simultaneously. Each department may work on their own Excel, but that others in the business need to see. Employees often don’t want to share for fear of damage to the data.
What’s being backed up? When spreadsheets are stored on a company’s server, the recovery of any lost information can generally be achieved. But for spreadsheets saved by employees locally on desktops, there’s almost no way of recovering lost data. As well as the lost data itself, hours of work will also be wasted.
Importing, exporting and manipulating data is tedious and time consuming. Management, and the employees themselves, will should be focusing on what the data is saying, and putting plans together on how to move the business forward. Checking and rechecking data is wasted time and demoralising.
On top of this, older versions of Excel don’t allow multiple users to work together in one document. This hampers collaboration and productivity.
Is it time to change?
Business data is vital, and will last longer than any one employee or system used. It is therefore important in any organisation for all information to be stored centrally and securely. With a document management system (DMS), businesses can achieve just that.
Any type of paper, electronic or emailed document can be saved into a DMS. Once stored, tasks can be automated, information can be accessed on the go and full version control is provided.
Integration with an ERP, CRM, HR or finance package is when a document management system can really improve business efficiency. These systems working together means business owners can see the full picture of what’s going on across the organisation. And if that’s not a reason to stop using Excel for important business processes, we don’t know what is!
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