Spreadsheets are excellent for organising data, up until a certain point. They can offer you ways to save key statistics, reports and business information and to automatically calculate different figures. Many small businesses start off organising information using spreadsheets, from their accounts to their inventory. However, eventually, the flaws in spreadsheets can start to make themselves known. The more spreadsheets you use and the bigger they get, the more you can have problems that lead to mistakes. You can’t afford for your data to be incorrect, so understanding the issues that spreadsheets create and how to avoid them is a must.
Manual Data Entry
One of the major issues with using spreadsheets to keep track of data is that manually entering data often leads to problems. When you rely on a human to enter data, you’re going to get all too human mistakes. Everyone has the potential to enter data into a spreadsheet incorrectly, and even checking it over still might not help to catch out any mistakes. Automating data entry and transfer helps to remove human error, leaving it up to software to pull in the right information. It avoids typing errors and mis-readings, taking data from sales or other important areas.
Spreadsheet Rounding Errors
The tools provided by spreadsheet applications are often helpful, but they can be a hindrance too. One of the functions of spreadsheet applications is rounding up figures that are entered into cells. This can sometimes be useful, but only when it’s something that you want the spreadsheet to do. When the numbers you enter are automatically rounded-up or down when you don’t want them to be, it can cause problems. You can usually choose how many decimal places you want to have, but it’s not always obvious how to change this, and you might not even realise that your spreadsheet has been rounding numbers.
Another spreadsheet problem is that when you’re also using accounting software, you can end up with issues surrounding the double-entry of information. Having the same data replicated in two different places can cause issues, resulting in crossed wires and confusion. Keeping all information in one place helps to prevent these issues. Instead of using spreadsheets, you can have a single system that brings all of your vital data together, including integrating with your accounting software. You don’t have to try and juggle data in two different places and make changes in different places either and even better, you save time too.
Having problems with different versions of spreadsheets is a common problem. If you end up creating new versions of a spreadsheet to reflect new data or to organise different sets of information, you can find it a struggle to keep them organised and to track the latest version. Cloud software helps to tackle this problem by saving changes automatically and making it easy to interrogate and share data with others. Spreadsheet applications sometimes have a version control function to track and control changes, but cloud software makes it even easier to manage and ensures your data is accessible to anyone who needs it whilst still keeping your data secure.
Most businesses eventually outgrow spreadsheets as a method for keeping track of data. Instead of having to change over to a new system at some point, starting off with the right software is much more sensible.
The challenge many small businesses have is that changing systems can seem like a laborious task that managers simply don’t feel they have time for. It’s not a surprise as the traditional route to developing systems in business has tended to take time and effort to implement. Cloud technology has enabled an evolution in systems implementation, particularly for small businesses. Workhorse, for example, takes a revolutionary approach to developing customised systems for SMEs. A hybrid approach combining SaaS technology and consultancy, Workhorse delivers a new system in a matter of weeks not months (or years!). What’s more, as it’s designed around your processes, it’s easy to log, track, and interrogate your business data and sales without the use of spreadsheets with all your data securely in one place.