Used by all types of businesses, spreadsheets have become one of the most popular data modelling tools today, as they help concentrate important information in an individual file while making it readily available for interpretation at a single glance. They are also easy to create and can grow as required, making them not only helpful, but an integral part of a company’s records, but popularity does not guarantee efficiency, and spreadsheets are no longer the best choice for an effective and streamlined business.

Even with all the positive qualities they boast, spreadsheets are informal and open to different forms of interpretation, which can cause confusion and contradiction at the wrong time. So, how do you know if your business is caught up in spreadsheet hell? Thankfully, there are a few symptoms that will help you determine whether your company’s spreadsheets are under control or have grown into a monster of disastrous proportions, allowing you to take the appropriate steps to correct the problem.

1 Truth is in the eye of the beholder

Do your spreadsheets give different versions of the truth? Do they seem contradicting or confusing? Spreadsheets tend to be dependent on the point of view of their creator. This means that no matter what the bottom line may be, you could end up with information as different and varied as the number of people who handle your spreadsheets, making interpretation difficult and cumbersome.

2 Duplicity often leads to a lack of logic

As mentioned above, each spreadsheet follows the logic of its creator, which means that what is plainly obvious to one person may seem like gibberish to another, causing unwanted problems during their use.

3 Sharing is not always caring

Often only a certain portion of a spreadsheet is required, but because it is downright impossible to split the document without affecting the rest of the information on it, the whole file must be shared, making it difficult to find what you need.

4 Many creators but one custodian

Spreadsheets are often created by different people in diverse departments but are placed under the care of a single employee, making them difficult to access if their custodian is away from his or her work space.

5 Backup and viruses

Because of the informality and constant evolution of spreadsheets, they are very rarely backed up to external media, which, together with the fact that they can be a powerful attractant for viruses, makes them easy to lose, causing trouble when you least expect it.

6 Lack of security

How secure are your spreadsheets? In most cases, not very much. The software used to create them doesn’t always include security measures that can prevent your files from being copied, stolen, or corrupted and they may end up in the hands of competitors.

7 Lack of integration

Have you ever tried to integrate two similar spreadsheets and found there is simply no way to do it? When this happens you end up with different files and duplicate information, leading to confusion and loss of valuable storage space.

8 Informality can lead to an unprofessional appearance

At times in which you have to present important data in the most concise manner, spreadsheets are the least appropriate way to do it. They have no formal validation, can’t be integrated with the original source, and lack integrity, as they can be modified by anybody with access to the file.

9 To err is human

Because humans are fallible and there is no way to troubleshoot errors, it is very easy to make mistakes when creating a spreadsheet. These mistakes can go unnoticed, making the damage irreversible.

10 Resource intensive and difficult to maintain

When your company’s spreadsheets have reached a critical point they become difficult to update and consume too many resources and manpower, and by the time you have reached this point, you have effectively entered spreadsheet hell.

Once you find yourself caught in spreadsheet hell, the best decision you can make is to switch to a more user-friendly and efficient form of technology. Spreadsheets, while handy, are no longer a viable way to manage complex and comprehensive business processes especially in the area of Customer Relationship Management (CRM), and at Admiral Technology we have the perfect CRM solution to bring order to your spreadsheet chaos. It only takes days for us to turn all your data and information into easy to use and secure CRM apps that allow you to free yourself from the ocean of spreadsheets that surrounds you today.