A Spreadsheet isn't “Free”: The True Cost of Using Excel

the true cost of using Excel

Many businesses rely on Microsoft Excel as the go-to spreadsheet software for keeping track of facility information. Despite this ubiquity, though, the truth is that Excel is unreliable in many ways. Not only are Excel spreadsheets prone to human error, but they can be time-intensive, resist collaboration and lack the ability to scale with your business. Additionally, while a survey of 2,000 people across the U.S. and the U.K. suggested that 80% of employees would like their bosses to share more business performance information, the siloed nature of Excel spreadsheets means that easily sharing information among colleagues is not always possible.

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Excel spreadsheets do have their benefits, but as companies grow and data increases, they can be detrimental to productivity. As such, it’s important that FMs know their options when it comes to storing and tracking facility data.

The cost of using Excel

Why you should be wary of using Excel for your business data

There are several reasons why you should be wary of using Excel for your business data. Here are just a few.

1. Analysis is often time-consuming

Staring at huge amounts of data on a spreadsheet is not helpful to most. Instead, it takes employees and facility managers great periods of time to scan the data and extrapolate the information they need. If you rely on built-in graph- and chart-building functions, you are also at risk of distorting the data due to the limitations of the software.

2. Manual data entry is prone to error

If you or your employees are building a spreadsheet manually, the likelihood of an error is high. Add in the chance of a misplaced equation or a wrong digit and one small issue could cascade through the charts, ruining everything that comes after it and giving imprecise information that may then be used to make bad decisions. The database and the interface of a spreadsheet are also one and the same, so there is no sophisticated way of validating the data being entered. FM software, meanwhile, separates the storage of data behind a user interface, which not only offers a more user-friendly experience, but also guarantees greater accuracy of data.

3. Excel poses a security risk

If you are moving Excel spreadsheets from person to person via email or USB drive, you are exposing yourself—and your company’s data—to security risks. Emails can be hacked. USB drives can be lost, stolen or illicitly passed around outside of company boundaries.

4. Data management is passive

If you have a detailed spreadsheet of budget constraints or upcoming deadlines, it’s on you to check back frequently to make sure you don’t miss anything. Excel is not set up to alert you to data inconsistencies, important dates or recurring deadlines. The data just sits there—and important details can be easily missed.

Moving beyond Excel

the benefits of the right FM software

CFOs from companies like Adobe Inc., P.F. Chang’s China Bistro Inc., ABM Industries Inc. and Wintrust Financial Corp. are actively trying to cut Excel out of their data processes. Mark Garrett, financial chief of Adobe Inc., notes that his concern with Excel is that it results in wasted time. “I don’t want financial planning people spending their time importing and exporting and manipulating data, I want them to focus on what the data is telling us.”

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Modern FM software makes it easy to see exactly what is happening in your company. A visual directory and space management functionality allow FMs to track space usage in real-time, while detailed reporting and analytics help employees make sense of data and improve decision-making. The right software will also eliminate the risk of human error and ensure that data is accurate. So FMs spend less time capturing data and decoding Excel spreadsheets, and are instead provided with actionable insights that allow a business to get the most out of its office space.

Thanks to the Software as a Service (SaaS) nature of OfficeSpace software, the product is also secure, scalable and flexible, making true collaboration easier than ever.

Using the right software and tools are just one of the many ways facility managers can manage stress in the workplace. Make sure your business is well-equipped for any challenge by requesting a free demo of OfficeSpace.

Photo Credits: Shutterstock / Jacob Lund, Shutterstock / Yulia Grigoryeva, Shutterstock / Mooshny