Stop Using Excel to Run Your Business and Build Your Own Apps

Jon Siegler | March 19, 2016
LogicGate software on desk

Running your business with Excel is easy. You create a new worksheet, do your work, hit save, and pass it to the next person, they do their part, and so on. This works just fine as your team is small, but over time it starts to break down. You may begin to to hear questions and frustrations from your fellow employees like -- Did someone update this sheet? What happened to that one file? Can you close the spreadsheet so I can edit it? We’ve seen businesses run some of their most important and sensitive processes and functions in Excel such as compliance, HR, and legal.

Think of Excel spreadsheets as the equivalent of managing your business like the Wild West.

Anyone can go stake a claim to some open land (cell), build (enter) anything they like, and no one else is allowed on your land (workbook).

Just to be clear, Excel is a great piece of software. It serves its purposes for reporting, charting, running basic analytics, etc. However, it is not built to serve as a system of record or a central repository to manage complex businesses that have multiple people doing multiple tasks. Sure, you might read the four problems detailed below and think “well there are workarounds for these issues”, and yes, that’s true. But they are called workarounds for a reason. Excel is not built to manage your entire business. You will eventually run into big problems.

We’ve seen first-hand Excel spreadsheets with complicated macros, validations, and security that take a fulltime person just to support, update, and maintain. I’m guessing this is not where most businesses want to invest their resources. Not to mention the errors that can unknowingly be embedded within workbooks (see the London Whale case, where an Excel error was partly to blame for the $6B trading loss).

Here are the 4 reasons why you should stop using Excel as your enterprise system of record:

Problem 1: “Did you update this cell?” (anyone can edit anything)

It’s happened to all of us. You save a file with everything looking perfect, put your initials on the end of the file, email it to the team – and then when someone else edits the file your updates are missing or different. You open your original version, see what it looked like before, and make the updates again. Another hour wasted…

Problem 2: “But my file says [insert better number]” (no single source of truth)

When passing Excel workbooks around your business, you can end up with multiple versions of the same file. You may often spend the first 15 minutes of your meeting trying to figure out who has the correct file. This wastes everyone time and can lead to uncertainty across your organization about what numbers can be trusted.

Problem 3: “Can you close the file so I can update it” (one user at a time)

One of the core issues with Excel is that it does not lend itself to having multiple people working on a workbook at once. This often leads to a shuffling of files, worksheets, and cells and can create some of the other problems mentioned already.

Problem 4: “Who entered ‘asdf’ in this cell?” (data quality is hard to control)

Excel is often time used to collect information from different parts of the business. For example, order forms, approvals, or surveys that business owners must fill out. Even when validations are added by the workbook creator, users can override these settings and put whatever they want in the cell. Takeaway – people are crafty at entering what they wish in an Excel file. When the results come back, you are forced to wade through cells of junk data and standardize it.

I agree, but what’s the solution?

Some quick background – having come from the management and technology consulting world, we’ve seen how spreadsheet overload can kill productivity within a team, business unit, or across the entire enterprise. In fact, we’ve spent the last decade-plus helping organizations take their current processes and make them more efficient with web-based technology.

But that required custom development built on a database which was complicated, expensive, and time consuming. The standard process is 1) meet with the business 2) gather requirements 3) talk to the developers 4) go back to the business 5) roll out a version 6) make more revisions….and so on. This is very expensive and you ultimately end up with a product that is static and was built for a point-in-time. Sure, it solved the problem of the moment (and changes you could realistically account for during requirements gathering), but when unforeseen events change your business 12 months from now it is useless. This is why we created LogicGate.

You can build your own enterprise process apps with LogicGate, without a single line of code.

You no longer need to rely on developers or your internal IT department. In essence, you can take all of those core business activities you were doing in Excel and make them into a robust app that has custom pages, controls, security, is accessible from anywhere, the list goes on. The LogicGate platform allows you to build and maintain many applications in one central location where both power users and end-users go to perform their work.

If a manager of a business unit wanted to modernize their business process with LogicGate they would simply….

  • Use our drag and drop app builder to visually model their process workflows and then define the rules and logic at each step that drives their business.
  • They configure the inputs, forms, views, and reports.
  • Deploy the application, invite their employees via email, and start getting work done!

LogicGate makes your messy processes clean.

Organizing messy processes with many human touchpoints, compliance requirements, regulations, and outputs is what LogicGate is built to handle. All of this can be done without a single line of code or technical experience. We’ll even help you build apps for your business to get you started!

Then, as your business evolves, your LogicGate apps can change with it.

The best part – download all of the data in your app to Excel at any point and you can chart and pivot to your heart’s content!

Follow the link to learn more and see how you can build business apps on LogicGate.

Learn More About LogicGate


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