Excel has been king of the spreadsheets for many years, but there are people who believe that Google Sheets is poised to be the next.
It’s true that Google Sheets seems to have some clear advantages over Excel: For one thing, it’s free. For another, it makes collaboration very easy. And its automatic saving to the cloud is extremely convenient.
Yet those who work with spreadsheets on a regular basis agree that Excel will likely continue to be the industry standard for a long time, particularly among enterprise companies. Here are the reasons why:
Google Sheets might be perfectly fine for small projects, but it’s not suitable for handling lots of data. Users find that it slows down significantly after about 1,000 rows. With Excel, however, you can easily and rapidly work with hundreds of thousands of rows. This power and speed is key for larger companies performing extensive and complex calculations.
Excel is known for its functionality. If you want to perform any kind of simple or complex calculations, chances are that Excel will have a way for you to do it. If you happen to have a need to use the Bessel equation, for example, it can help you with BESSELJ. Excel offers hundreds of built-in functions—and an infinite number of formula possibilities.
Unlike Google Sheets, Excel can import data from many external sources, including databases, text files, Excel files and cloud services. Excel’s Power Query add-in, in particular, combines importing data with endless possibilities to shape the data and make it ready for analysis. Google Sheets’ ability to import data is far more limited.
Excel allows you to record macros which generate Excel VBA, which is by far the most used programming language on the planet. The macros can automate repeated tasks, and the generated code can be easily customized and improved. Google Sheets’ coding environment, by contrast, is designed for programmers and creates a rather steep learning curve for the average spreadsheet user.
Don’t underestimate the power of being the industry standard. Because the vast majority of companies use Excel, sharing spreadsheets is that much easier. What’s more, importing Excel spreadsheets into Google Sheets can create formatting errors that need to be fixed.
One FP&A manager noted that if Excel were a language, it would be one of the world’s largest, with close to 1 billion speakers. So if you use Excel, you know you will be in very good company.
That being said, Excel does have its drawbacks: It’s easy to make a mistake. It’s also difficult to share a spreadsheet among many team members, consolidate all the versions and know which one is the most accurate.
Using DataRails allows teams to take advantage of all of Excel’s superior functionality while addressing its shortcomings. With DataRails, teams can easily share files, review data and always work on the latest file versions. They can also be assured of security, traceability, backups, version recovery and regulatory compliance. Best of all, they can do all that while continuing to work the way they normally do in Excel.