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Before you reach for that spreadsheet….

Posted by on Aug 4, 2017 in Web related | No Comments

The last few days have been very interesting. So many of the organisations I speak to have the challenge of management by spreadsheet.

Change is hard enough and so far spreadsheets seem to be for many of us the only answer to getting a handle on what is actually going on.

Let me explain……

The life of the spreadsheet begins as an idea or a desire:

1. to change

2. to make a plan

3. to understand

4. or to justify a theory

In their production we grow fond of them as the vehicle of our deliverance.

We spend hours crafting and colouring them and making them into truly magnificent pieces of operational beauty. Truly wondrous creations of cross-linking , formulas, tabs and tables. We take pride in the beautiful ones and shun the uglier ones irrespective of the data they hold!

 ….making them into truly magnificent pieces of operational beauty.

And as they are created so to they come to pass and with the dawning of new times, these creations inevitably lose their sheen. Becoming dull, lifeless and so often forgotten.

Until finally they become lost, buried amongst the clutter of folders of time long gone by. With only long forgotten presentations, email, word documents and the odd joke jpg as friends. Hoping against hope that their creator had the forethought to add the right key word into their title or file name so that once again they could be lifted out of obscurity and be useful once again!

Where was that supplier list again???

As creators and archivists we are faithful to our spreadsheets, trying our best to store and file them properly – just in case that budget from 2011 might help us somehow with our problems of today.

Look I get it…..

Nobody likes change and we all know how to make spreadsheets – well at least we think we do.

We understand the technology. Numbers in Columns and Rows right!?

We find spreadsheets easy to digest ……occasionally

…..well once they been explained to us

…..sometimes

…I think?!?!

We find spreadsheets easy to digest ……occasionally

Perhaps the reason why we like spreadsheets so much is that we can use them to show others our version of the truth. We are, after all, story tellers at heart.The fact that the data will reveal an, until now hidden reality, perhaps appeals to our ability to tell stories.

Yet so often this message gets lost in translation.

When it comes to change management in big organisations I always feel the use of spreadsheets can only be described as an exercise in futility. The analogy of trying to stop the tide comes to mind. Trying to describe the elephant when each person can only grasp the notion of a tail or a foot or a trunk. Each seeing their own view.

They tell a story that is already old

A bit like the observation theory. The minute you observe the event it has passed.

But just for a minute wouldn’t it be great if the stories we were telling came to life before our eyes? That we could play pause, rewind and even use the data to fast forward into the future. To understand the truly complex ecosystem that is our modern day working environment.

Wouldn’t it be great if the spreadsheet moved in real time – showing the  world what was really happening?

Even though our comfy old Ford Fiesta gets us from A to B doesn’t mean that it is the best option.

So what’s the alternative?

What would it take you to throw away your spreadsheet?:

Well the clear answer is good software: 

Take for instance workforce, resource or supplier management software – The argument for is:

  1. Improved Staff utilisation
  2. Reduced attrition
  3. Less risk with scenario planning
  4. Real-time (just in time) supplier management
  5. Reduction in supplier costs
  6. Improvements through process automation

 So what is stopping us?

Based on hearing this day in and day out we can determine that there are three common reasons for reluctance to relinquish our spreadsheets:

  1. Is it quicker to use excel than to use a productivity software solution?
  1. Is it too hard to access the data automatically?
  1. Is the software able to map to the organisation’s processes?

So what about if we removed all of these objections right now.

What about if we:

  1. Made the daily data entry go away through easy connection to what was already there
  2. Made the planning work as easy or even easier than excel with no training required
  3. Made the cost of implementation and hosting go away
  4. Made the software organic and flexible enough to adapt to the organisation

Would you consider throwing away your spread-sheets then?

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