CompLogix Insights

Excel Spreadsheets are on Their Way Out

Sep 4, 2019

In this age of technology, business is changing faster than ever. More people than ever have access to tech, software, and programs that are far more advanced than what people had at the beginning of the century. Just over 10 years ago, the first iPhone was announced, and now, there are “more than 700 million iPhones currently in use worldwide.” Additionally, those little pieces of technology that can fit into your pocket are “millions of times more powerful than all of NASA’s combined” when the first rocket landed on the moon.

It’s pretty amazing how far technology has come over just the past few decades. Yet, with the embracing of the new technology comes with moving-on from the old. Instead of shelves of records, people opt to stream their music from their smart speaker. Rather than typing documents on typewriters, most people use computers with cloud-based word processing software that is accessible from anywhere with an internet connection. The point is, that most pieces of technology that were once revolutionary are now obsolete, and the next thing to join that list is excel spreadsheets.

Now, I understand why this may seem like a shock to you. If you walk into almost any business course on a college campus, you are likely to hear a professor that raves about how it is absolutely necessary to understand how to use excel to succeed in the business world of today, but they are wrong. Instead of manually tracking every minute detail through the use of excel and similar programs, many companies are choosing new ways to manage their information. When it comes to compensation management, customized software programs are the way to go.

However, before we get there, let’s determine exactly what makes spreadsheets, problematic, confusing, and outdated.

Enormous Errors

           We’ve talked about the inevitability of human error before. When people are the ones creating every formula, aligning ever box, and inputting all the data, it’s extremely likely that they will make at least one mistake in at least one of those steps. This may seem manageable… only if it’s a mistake or two from time to time. Unfortunately, 88% of spreadsheets have some kind of error, which is essentially 9 out of every 10 documents.

Of course, there are ways to combat the inevitability of an error-ridden spreadsheet, but that takes both time and money– two things no business owner likes to hear. Having another person double-check every compensation-related spreadsheet would take hours of time, and leaving the possibility of mistakes un-checked could potentially cost your company thousands of dollars. Ultimately, it isn’t worth the effort to try and combat the error-ridden nature of spreadsheet software.

Difficult to Understand

           Another often overlooked aspect of using spreadsheets is the fact that they are far from easy to interpret. Part of this is the fact that when you simply input all of your data into one big spreadsheet for storage, the important parts are hidden. As this article from Forbes puts it, “it’s hard to see the forest for the trees.” Instead, you will likely have one of your employees take the time to go through all of the data, pick out the important pieces, and then turn that information into a report for the entire department to read.

This process takes a lot of time, which, in return, costs you money. The Forbes article also mentions how this data is difficult to analyze. Most people who are not fully educated in the in’s and out’s of spreadsheets have a hard time knowing what all of the information actually means. The article states that “people only familiar with spreadsheets and their associated tools tend to make charts and graphs that often distort data.” Just because the software has a one-step process to turn data into a 3D graph, it does not mean that it is the appropriate way to visualize that set of information.

Sharing Fiascos

When it’s time to collaborate on a data-set or send your newly finished input, you are going to have a way to transfer your spreadsheet to your coworkers or bosses. Again, this may sound extremely basic, but sharing documents can be far more difficult and confusing than you think.

 For example, it is likely that more than one employee is going to have input on your spreadsheets, especially if you are going through the lengthy process of double-checking every piece of information. If you are using a traditional software like Excel or Numbers, you have to save, upload, and send every new version of your document with no way for two people be working at the same time. HubSpot makes the point that long, complicated file names make it challenging to even find the correct document to work on, and when using a program like Excel, waiting for each collaborator to save and upload the correct document to the master file is a tedious process that costs precious time.

If you are working with newer software like Google spreadsheets, you have the option to have more than one person edit a document at once- only with a working internet signal, of course. But when working with numbers and formulas, one little box can potentially change all the other little boxes, especially when complicated algorithms are involved. This means that when two people are remotely working on the same document, they have to be doing completely different parts of the document to avoid problems with formatting.

Ticking Time Bomb

       Ultimately, Excel spreadsheets and similar pieces of software are ticking time bombs. They are programs that were once life-changing, but, now, they tend to make life more difficult. They have become error-ridden, confusing, and inefficient documents that take a lot of time and effort to customize to the needs of your business. Instead, it’s time to move on to the next piece of technology that is revolutionizing business.

           Harvest HCM is a business that creates personalized compensation software management plans. Essentially, the people at Harvest HCM do everything that your spreadsheet does, except it is cheaper, faster, and easier to understand than anything that you could create using your spreadsheets. The compensation software programs at Harvest HCM are completely customized to your business to meet your exact needs. Check out this other article on our blog to check out the basics of compensation software and why it’s the right choice for you and your business.

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