Stop with the Spreadsheets! How to automate your business workflows

Software Development

  • Published on October 4, 2023
  • Last Updated on March 18, 2024
5 Clear Signs to Upgrade from Spreadsheet

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    Right now, somewhere in corporate America, a group of employees is huddled in a conference room updating data in a spreadsheet. If you’ve been in that situation, you know the headache! So today we’re going to show you a better way to manage group workflows: data automation.

    Why Companies Rely on Excel and Google Sheets

    Spreadsheet software like Microsoft Excel is ubiquitous in business. Without question, Excel, Google Sheets, and similar tools have been vital for getting things done over the last 30 years. Over one billion people use spreadsheets daily. The widespread adoption of this technology makes sense: spreadsheets are an affordable, flexible tool for organizing and manipulating data.

    Unfortunately, the ease and accessibility of spreadsheets have made companies over-reliant on them and reluctant to seek better alternatives. Managers want to stick with what they know – even if spreadsheets have proven to be time-consuming, inefficient, and, in some cases, unreliable for data management.

    When Spreadsheets Make Sense

    There’s a time and a place for using spreadsheets in business. Generally, spreadsheets are a great tool for small, time-limited projects, individual contributors, and efficient analysis. Here are a few examples:

    • Small to Medium-Sized Datasets: For quick and easy management of small sets of data, a spreadsheet can be a great choice. Examples include tracking expenses, creating lists and inventories, or managing small contact lists.
    • Data Analysis and Visualization: Spreadsheets offer a user-friendly interface to customize reports, calculate formulas, and visualize data with charts and graphs. Spreadsheets also support sorting, filtering, and conditional formatting, allowing users to manipulate and view data in different ways.
    • Quick Data Entry and Manipulation: Spreadsheets allow users to self-manage data sets quickly with copy-pasting, autofill, and drag-and-drop functionality. Spreadsheets also support importing and exporting data from various file formats, making it easy to integrate data from different sources.

    There’s a good chance that you’re familiar with all these uses, and many more, for spreadsheets. It’s unlikely that business will ever be able to function without them, as there are plenty of small to medium-sized data projects for which spreadsheets are the perfect choice.

    Signs It’s Time to Scale Up from Spreadsheets

    As companies grow, and workflow processes become routine, spreadsheets lose their effectiveness as a data management tool. Perhaps you’ve seen this happen? Something tells you it’s time to move toward a more permanent, automated solution. Here are some of the common signs:

    • Impacts on Productivity: Are you becoming frustrated with your team’s productivity and accuracy? Spreadsheets require manual data entry, calculations, and updates which is time-consuming and prone to human errors. When spreadsheet management becomes a monotonous task, productivity suffers.
    • Data Inconsistency and Errors: Are you losing confidence in your spreadsheets and your team? Unfortunately, spreadsheets are susceptible to human errors, leading to inaccuracies and potential financial risks.
    • Overwhelming Complexity: Have your spreadsheets become so complicated they’re incomprehensible? Unfortunately, spreadsheets are just not built to handle large volumes of data or complex workflows.
    • Communication Breakdowns: In a multi-user environment, spreadsheets can become a source of conflict. Even though tools like Google Sheets auto-save and track versions, training your teams to work together to keep data up-to-date can be a challenge.
    • Process Confusion: Spreadsheets can be hard to organize and are prone to getting lost in the shuffle. Additionally, they typically don’t integrate well with other software applications or systems, leading to a company with fragmented processes and data silos.

    If you’re facing these common challenges, consider it a growth warning sign. Like a large red traffic light or a stop sign at a four-way intersection, please don’t ignore these signs. Proceeding with “business as usual” depending on spreadsheets could cause an accident or a team pileup. (We tried to warn you!)

    Why Process Automation is Worth Your Investment

    Sometimes it takes an outside perspective to find a good solution to a common problem. Automation can be the solution to your spreadsheet problem. Here are some of the advantages you’ll realize with an automated data solution:

    • Data Validation: Automation systems can provide data validation, real-time syncing, and built-in checks, ensuring the accuracy and integrity of the information being managed.
    • Reporting & Analytics: Automation systems offer robust reporting and analytics capabilities, allowing businesses to gain deeper insights, make data-driven decisions, and track key performance indicators more efficiently.
    • End-to-end Process Management: Automation solutions can integrate with various tools and systems, enabling end-to-end process automation and smoother data flow across the organization.
    • Increased Productivity & Job Satisfaction: Automation tools can streamline processes, eliminate repetitive tasks, and improve overall efficiency, freeing up employees to focus on more strategic activities.

    Despite knowing the benefits, companies still shy away from taking the leap toward automation. It seems like too big a lift, and the issues caused by spreadsheets just aren’t significant enough to make the change.

    But it’s possible to start small. Determine the specific goals you want to achieve through automation. These objectives will guide the selection and implementation of automation tools. With the right plan, you’ll be on your way to greater accuracy, productivity, and more streamlined workflows.

    Discover Process Automation with TechArk

    If business process automation is something “you’ll get around to someday,” our team can help you overcome the “broken spreadsheet processes” that are holding your company back.

    We’ve helped many organizations find truly impactful solutions to their outdated processes. The first step is a Discovery Process. Our Digital Transformation Consultants work with you to understand your goals, assess your data management processes, recommend software and solutions, and develop a detailed plan and budget for execution.

    Our Discovery gives you the support and the knowledge to reduce the risk of new software implementation. To learn more, book a free consultation call today.

    Ready to step away from the spreadsheets? (Of course you are!)

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