When your business is growing, looking for ways to support it's growth is essential to keep the momentum going. Looking for cheap or free ways is always tempting, but when it comes to choosing free spreadsheets over proper project management and job costing options, it could cost your business more than you realise.
Spreadsheets seem great because they offer flexibility, but that’s actually one of the biggest downsides. There’s no rigor and few checks in the process of using them. Because of that, it’s easy to make mistakes using and then be unable to retrace the errors. It can have a huge knock-on effect when you need to rely on information that is faulty.
Ultimately, using spreadsheets to manage jobs, especially larger and more complicated ones, ends up being unreliable, ineffective, and time-consuming. Here’s how.
With spreadsheets, data isn’t able to be updated in real-time. That’s because despite keeping all job data and other specific business information in spreadsheets, it still needs to be manually updated which is time-consuming. That means the relationship between the data sets is unable to help with decision making or provide insights.
Spreadsheets can certainly keep data organized allowing you to view details in one document, but it’s not good for keeping information easily accessible and connected when moving between tasks in the process of job management. Without setting up multi-document macros, spreadsheets, unfortunately, require you to constantly move data manually between different spreadsheets for scheduling, quoting, invoicing, and even forecast job costs. It’s time your business could be spending more productively and leads to an increased risk of errors.
Accurate maintenance of spreadsheets can often be difficult, especially when only a limited amount of detail can be listed for projects on single rows or columns. That means key steps can be easily missed, which pushes out project completion, usually with little or no notice at all. Spreadsheets unfortunately have no way of adjusting to accommodate these dependencies or new additional project tasks. You’re also more likely to lose historic data that could help reduce your workload tomorrow. Your business can learn a lot from past projects and spreadsheets aren’t the most effective way to store that information.
The information provided in spreadsheets typically does not allow for the provision of a quick update. Whenever large spreadsheets are constantly having data changes whenever they change hands, whoever used the latest version of the file is usually charged with ensuring it is safe, accurate, and uncorrupted. This is not only inefficient and time-consuming, it can also lead to more errors because it’s difficult to accurately record and keep track of where major projects were 12 days ago, let alone 12 months ago.
It might be controversial, but no spreadsheet system will force you to (or even let you) attach purchase orders, invoices, receipts, and timesheets to a project’s history. Because of that, it’s all too tempting to put an “estimated” (read guess) value in the spreadsheet to give you a starting point. The problem happens when that guess becomes relied upon as real data because you have no idea how close to the actual figure you are.
There’s also no way to do a reliability check on that data, without going back over every timesheet record, and every invoice manually, which in itself is an enormous time and cost burden.
If you’ve come to the realisation that spreadsheets are killing YOUR business, perhaps it’s time to move to a dedicated job management platform like WorkGuru. After relying on spreadsheets, transitioning to a job management system can cause a massive increase in the overall productivity of your team thanks to information transparency, reduced errors, and shared workloads. Here are 4 ways that WorkGuru can improve your productivity.