Spreadsheet work is busy work.

People spend days, weeks or even months working on their spreadsheets. Creating and running important spreadsheets is hard work and takes a long time.

Much of that time is wasted.

Occasionally people are using their expertise to do skilled analysis – but most of people’s time working on spreadsheert is not really adding value.

Spreadsheet Work is a ‘Grind’

Spreadsheet work typically requires

  • Simple repetitive tasks where it’s too easy to make mistakes.
  • Complicated formulae and techiques to force the spreadsheet to do what you want.

Busy Work

Sitting there with a complex spreadsheet open – makes you look busy. When managers walk through offices and see spreadsheets open – it looks like everyone is working hard.

There may be a few people deliberately slacking – that’s not the main problem.

The big problem is all the well-meaning knowledge workers wasting time endlessly building, improving, operating, and fixing spreadsheets:

  • Fiddling around with formatting to make it look good
  • Trying to get calculations right
  • Cutting and pasting data
  • Sorting out data errors
  • Manipulating data to get it into the right format
  • Collating spreadsheets from different people
  • Reconciling differences between different versions – attempting to find which version is correct.
  • Going back and checking all the formula
  • Trying to figure how someone else’s spreadsheet works e.g. deciphering formulae with numerous nested brackets
  • Working out why ‘your’ spreadsheet does not work the same on a different version of Excel
  • The list goes on, it is truly endless …

Are Spreadsheets Quicker than IT Projects?

The costs and implementation times for IT projects are obvious and budgeted.

It can seem quicker and easier to do the work yourselves in spreadsheets without needing help from IT. But spreadsheets probably suck more time and costs out of your department – by gradually ‘bleeding’ people’s time.

Spreadsheets are not just an administrative annoyance. Get people back to work that adds value, instead of spreadsheet tinkering.

Is there a way that is quick to start like a spreadsheet AND easy to keep organized like an IT system? There sure is.

Right Tool for the Job

LiveDataset is much more efficient for teams of people working on data than using spreadsheet software designed for personal use.

Let’s look at some of the tasks that waste people’s time on spreadsheets and see how much quicker it is for a LiveDataset user.

Task In a spreadsheet … In LiveDataset …
Share data

Make a copy of the spreadsheet, remove portions they should not see, and send via email.

Send them another copy whenever they need to see an updated version.

Give them access to a view, so they can see the current version of “their” data any time.
Gather data

Prepare a template spreadsheet, send out for people to complete.

Check returned data is in correct format without gaps or overlaps. Cut and paste completed data from all the different spreadsheets into a master copy.

Carefully manage subsequent updates from people and chase people who are late.

Give them access to a view where they can add and update data.
Add calculations

Create a formula. Check that all data is in right format. Copy the formula to all the right places.

When additional data is added, all the formulae may need adjusting or copy/pasting.

Add the formula in one place.
Reconcile different versions

Manually compare versions of spreadsheets side-by-side to spot differences.

Or copy into another spreadsheet and write formulae to identify what changed.

Everyone uses the current version.

Audit trail makes it easy to see who changed what and to undo those changes.

Format data to look good Choose font, bold, italics, colours, borders, alignment, background, spacing … for ranges, cells, and individual characters.

LiveDataset focuses on the data not formatting.

Data can be fed to reports or spreadsheets when it needs to be formatted for presentation purposes.

You can’t blame people for using spreadsheets to get their work done. If you only give them a spade, of course they will use a spade.

They need to work with data, so give them a tool to help them do that. A tool that makes the data do the work instead of the people.