Many businesses use spreadsheets for a variety of needs. They're a great way to organize information, and if used correctly, can add value to an organization in a number of ways. If spreadsheets are used as a source of data analytics, however, challenges often arise.

Spreadsheets are prone to costly errors

Spreadsheets are often used to combine data from different reports and data sources. When using formulas in spreadsheets, it is easy to make a costly error. In addition, errors are incredibly hard to identify in spreadsheets. As a result, you may be working with incorrect data without knowing it for a long time.

They get complicated to drive

Spreadsheets, while easy to use at a basic level, can get incredibly complex when they are used to gain insights from company data. So much so, many companies end up employing a staff member with expert Excel skills for this purpose, eliminating any financial benefit of using spreadsheets. Therefore, the larger a business becomes, the more data, and the more complex the spreadsheet.

Security can be a concern

Spreadsheets containing sensitive information can be sent in emails, put on USB sticks and otherwise shared in manners that make them prone to security threats. You are able to lock most spreadsheets with a password, however, these may not be difficult to crack for someone with intent.

What about version control

Version control is an issue with spreadsheets. Staff within your organization will no doubt be using different versions. They may send you an XLS file – how will you know if you have the latest version? Perhaps they have modified the file. How can you have consistency in your decision making when different staff members are using inconsistent information?

Make your business’ use of spreadsheets go from good to great

We are not advocating your business stops using spreadsheets or Microsoft Excel altogether. Rather, we are proposing a few simple steps you can take to ensure your business does not lose out due to errors made when analyzing company data.

By using a purpose-built business intelligence solution such as Phocas, you can help ensure your data is presented correctly. Phocas can combine data you have stored in different locations, such as your ERP system, CRM system, and spreadsheets. By allowing Phocas to take care of this combination of data, you eliminate any scope for human error, such as an error in a formula or the omission of a digit.

Better still, using Phocas allows your end users to perform their own analyses quickly and easily. Phocas’ interface is intuitive and easy to use for even those without a technical background. It also updates automatically so you will always be working with the latest company data. These benefits come in addition to greater security. Phocas has internal security restrictions, meaning that an employee’s account can be set up so he or she only sees data relevant to their role. External security measures are also put in place to protect your company data from outside sources.  

To learn more about getting more value from your business data, download our eBook, The Excel + BI Partnership.

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Tags: ERP - Microsoft Excel

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