Five Ways Spreadsheets Are Costing Your Agency Time and Money

4 min read

Spreadsheets are seen as an integral part of a company’s operation, no matter the industry. Whenever anyone mentions them, you know they mean business. “I’ll do up a spreadsheet for that.” “Let me see how it breaks down on the spreadsheet.” “I’ve got a sheet that needs spreading; this calls for a spreadsheet.”

They’re also inherently miserable. Nobody really enjoys maintaining hundreds of spreadsheets. You probably have to merely hear the word “spreadsheet” and a pang of Excel-induced anxiety will shoot straight through you.

Here’s the good news, though. Spreadsheets aren’t it anymore—at least not in the agency business. They’re old news, outdated, démodé, and worst of all: potentially holding back your business. Is Excel obsolete in 2020? Yes. Why is that, you ask? We’re here to fill you in. Here are five reasons why spreadsheets are costing your agency time and money.

via Giphy: Not everyone wants them, Oprah! They’re too complicated!

1. Visually, Spreadsheets Aren’t That Appealing

We get it, spreadsheets aren’t designed to look flashy. They’re not supposed to be “cool”. But they should at least aspire to be presentable. Fact is, most spreadsheets look messy. There are usually boxes of different sizes and columns with different widths, and you have to do a lot of scrolling to actually get anywhere relevant.

They’re also pretty complicated. There’s a lot of intricacy involved in setting up and maintaining spreadsheets. If you don’t know what you’re doing, you could mess the whole thing up, igniting a domino chain of errors. Yes, spreadsheets become more useful the more information you have to fill in—but ironically, the bigger they get, the more unwieldy they become.

2. Spreadsheets Consume Too Much Time

Everyone knows that time is money. Unfortunately, spreadsheets are one of the biggest temporal black holes in the office. Problems arise when everyone has their own spreadsheet, or access to a shared one. There’s often precious little communication between people when they take to a sheet, so no one knows if they’re working from updated data or old data, or what anyone else on the team is actually doing. Cue a lot of back-and-forth emails or shouts across the office—and, ultimately, a lot of wasted time.

3. Spreadsheets Have a Steep, Unforgiving Learning Curve

Despite the fact that Excel is the spreadsheet program of choice for many companies, few people really know how to use it properly—or any other spreadsheet platform, for that matter. Why? Because it’s intimidating and dull. When you hire a new employee, you’re going to have to spend a lot of time getting them up to speed. Mistakes are going to be made, and because of Excel’s interface, these mistakes can be hard to track down (until it’s too late).

This can also happen with seasoned Excel veterans. We all make mistakes, but the interface isn’t great at pulling you up on them. They can sometimes go unnoticed until weeks or even months later, when the knot is particularly difficult to untie. Or, in the worst-case scenario, it can topple the first piece in the Excel domino train, compounding the original error with further errors.

4. Spreadsheets Aren’t User-Friendly…

Excel doesn’t welcome novices with open arms. It’s extremely hard to get your head around, with the program itself offering little in the way of initiation packages. You really need to do a course in Excel to know how to operate it effectively, because even if you half know how to use it, you’ll be wasting a lot of time trying to figure the other half out on the job.

Like any software, Excel features plenty of tips, tricks, shortcuts, and hacks. But these aren’t obvious. They have to be learned or taught. And if the one person in your office who knows Excel like the back of their hand is busy teaching it to the newbies, they won’t be busy using Excel themselves. Which is presumably what you wanted them to do in the first place.

Ideally, you want a well-rounded and integrated system that your employees, new and old, can get to grips with immediately. The entry barrier to Excel is far too high, and your agency will suffer from it, one way or another.

via Giphy: Don’t blame you, Gordon. Excel has that effect on people.

5. Spreadsheets Might Be Hacker-Friendly

Are spreadsheets a security risk for your agency? Unfortunately, yes. From sales reports to forecasts and everything in between, spreadsheets are often full of sensitive information about your agency and its employees. This could prove to be a major security risk somewhere down the line.

Not only that, but Excel spreadsheets are sent and shared around the office constantly. They land in hundreds of inboxes every week, with no safety lock. What if a disgruntled employee decides to plunder those spreadsheets, or someone gains access to your email server from the outside? When using a project management tool, you know exactly who’s looking at what, as well as keeping the proverbial lock and key with you at all times.

What’s a Better Option Than Managing Your Agency in Spreadsheets?

Spreadsheets were great when they were first introduced. But they’ve failed to move with the times, making them largely obsolete in 2020. Transition your company to a more employee-friendly, sustainable option, and leave those spreadsheets in the dust. What’s better than managing your agency business in spreadsheets? An all-in-one agency management tool, of course.

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