Spreadsheets are critical business tools. They are used to list, manipulate and calculate various corporate processes, including the preparation of financial reports, the performance of budgeting and accounting tasks and the organization of significant company information. Most companies use Microsoft Excel to serve its numerous and diverse spreadsheet needs. Excel however, is less than ideal for business purposes, in light of the program’s great inherent error risks and high management overhead. Yet, despite its clear shortcomings, Excel remains the preferred spreadsheet software of the business world. Alternatives, such as Google Sheets, meant to overcome the failings posed by Excel, are simply not offering a good enough replacement.
Web-based tools, such as Google Sheets, were created with the purpose of providing a superior solution to Microsoft Excel. Google Sheets and other automation programs can be used to draw all data into a single location, streamline the approval process, and facilitate the smooth and effortless running of data-related programs.
Google Sheets is free, easy to learn, facilitates user accessibility and fosters transparency and collaboration among business team members, a characteristic of utmost importance in the workplace. As opposed to emailing Excel files back and forth between team members, Google Sheets’ collaboration feature enables all team members to access and control and edit spreadsheet information from any document, from any location, while allowing all users to view who else is currently working on the spreadsheet at any given time.
Why then, do companies opt out of utilizing Google Sheets for business purposes? Why do companies insist on using Microsoft Excel, if other programs have been developed to overcome its clear limitations?
Its automation benefits notwithstanding, programs such as Google Sheets do not completely eliminate the risk and cost associated with Excel’s human error limitations and do not provide an easy platform for local data manipulation. The only way for Google sheets users to personally play around with numbers and manipulate the data without exposing their edits to the entire team is by duplicating the original file, thus creating multiple copies of the file and allowing for data discrepancies and mismatches. Furthermore, if one wishes to then consolidate their local version with the original team file there is no way of doing so; the alternative is either to copy and paste those changes to the shared sheet or to share a new link. By way of forcing transparency Google sheet in fact impairs the Single Version of the Truth, which is one of the basic elements of productive teamwork.
Google Sheets requires constant internet access. Documents cannot be created, updated or viewed by others without an internet connection. Ostensibly trivial, the idea that a project’s advancement is fully dependent on the internet reduces the program’s allure. Company employees want to know that they can work on their projects anytime, from anywhere, even while commuting on the subway.
Google Sheets generally continue to focus on the “file” level of projects, as opposed to the “data level.” As a result, Sheets notifies users when any change was applied to the data regardless of how important that change is to the project. Moreover, Google sheets does not provide any data validation functionality to monitor edits to sensitive functions and formulas, does not include security functionalities or enhanced analytics to easily compare historical versions and data trends, all desired functions by businesses.
In addition, Google Sheets lacks some of Excel’s most notable functions such as Macros, graphs and visualizations and keyboard shortcuts linked to document formatting and filtering that are staples of Excel use, as well as other features characteristic of Excel, such as add-ins. Companies seeking to use spreadsheets for large amounts of data want to cut corners and increase productivity by any means. Without effective shortcuts, businesses will not use Google Sheets for any project requiring more than listing raw data, which does not require much file sharing or collaboration anyways.
Google Sheets is simply not as fast, nor as functional as Excel, leading businesses to avoid utilizing the program, regardless of its exceptional collaboration capabilities. What are companies to do? How do businesses overcome the limitations posed by Excel, while still avoiding automation programs like Google Sheets?
Businesses are turning towards “Spreadsheet Management Systems,” software tailored to each company’s individual spreadsheet needs.The program or structure is formulated and implemented in-house or by a third-party software or consulting firm, providing technical solutions to built-in potential spreadsheet risks, in an attempt to reduce errors and their effects on company activities. Spreadsheet management systems additionally reduce the overall high management overhead costs, by lessening the manpower needed to work on the documents.
DataRails is the only spreadsheet management system to have successfully created an algorithm that understands the nature of spreadsheet data and its changes, automatically converting data within multiple Excel files into a secure and solid SQL database. The cloud platform has revolutionized the field of file management, enabling business team members to instantaneously extract deeper and more relevant and useful analytics and dynamic insights from spreadsheet projects.