In this 2-part series, we explore the issues companies face when relying on spreadsheets to manage their business.

Part 2 of 2: When should you stop using spreadsheets?(And how you can do it)

Most organizations use spreadsheets in some capacity, since Excel reports and other data visualization tools are essential for managers to understand their business metrics.  However, in Part 1 of this series, we shared several examples of how organizations can rely too heavily on spreadsheets, which exposes the company to unnecessary expense and risk.  If your company is using spreadsheets for more than standard reporting, you may be in this category.  Spreadsheets are intended to help summarize and present your data, not to be used as a workaround operating system when your current IT systems don’t maintain this data automatically.  

Does your company rely on any spreadsheets which must be manually compiled from other data sources?  Do you rely on any spreadsheets as your main “source of truth” for certain business data because “the system” isn’t automatically tracking this data for you?  Do you need an analyst or IT person to help you generate this data?  Often, we see business leaders who must wait for others in their company to update their spreadsheets and/or manually run reports for them before making decisions.  Not only is their data unavailable in real-time, it’s also more likely to contain errors.  

If this sounds familiar, we recommend exploring alternatives such as process automation.  If you could fix your IT systems to handle this data automatically, would you?  Most companies are stuck using standard IT systems and off-the-shelf software, which can generally do 90% of what your company really wants.  For the last 10%, you may be inefficient because the system isn’t truly customized.  Your organization pays for this last 10% with additional labor hours, longer workflows, limited real-time reporting, and added risk.  As a long-term strategy, this is very risky and clearly non-optimal.  By automating these parts of your workflow, you can avoid the added personnel costs and risks while improving your accuracy, agility and lead times.  In general, we see automation projects pay for themselves within 6-12 months with minimal ongoing maintenance needs.     

Would some form of automation solve your spreadsheet challenges?  Would you like to know what’s possible and how much it would cost so you can evaluate ROI?  Like unique snowflakes, every one of our clients is different.  At EM Squared, we provide free consultations so our clients can explore and define a specific project and make an informed decision.  Project costs are based on how much it costs to build the solution, not how much value it will generate.  Most of our clients are overjoyed at the results and achieve ROI in around 9 months.  If you think this might help you, let’s find out for sure!  

Published by Adam Brown

Adam M. Brown is Vice President of Sales at EM Squared Inc., a custom software developer in Atlanta, GA specializing in business automation, mobile applications, custom integrations and the Internet of Things (IoT). Since 2001, EM Squared has served business clients and their IT teams by providing better integrated software, enabling more cohesive workflows, and removing unnecessary system constraints. Our deep experience with business systems may provide the answers you seek. Consultations are free and you can reach Adam at 404-556-5417 or email