How to Move Away from Excel for Construction Management
And What You Can Use Instead of Spreadsheets
Excel is popular with construction businesses. But while powerful, Excel is full of limitations.
And if you’re relying on them to manage your construction projects, you’re putting your business at unnecessary risk. But transitioning to a new system can be a challenge.
That’s why we built out a roadmap to help your construction company management company move away from Excel. Follow these 10 steps to make your transition easier.
10 Steps For Transitioning Your Construction Management Away from Excel
Follow these guidelines to successfully navigate change management and get your construction team on the right track with a superior alternative to Excel.
1. Don’t Pick a Shiny Version of Excel
It’s okay to aim for interfaces that your team finds familiar. However, you don’t want to pick a platform that’s essentially a rehashed version of Excel. Its new features will grow dull over time, leaving you right back where you started.
Instead, look for a system or tool that’s going to scale with your business while providing the features you need to exceed customer expectations.
2. Don’t Shy Away from Custom Applications
Most businesses that choose turnkey construction management software do so because they need to stay within budget. Instead of building exactly what they need, they find a platform that aligns somewhat with their business model and adopts it.
The truth is that custom application development in low-code can be cheaper and yield a higher ROI than traditional software builds. In fact, by 2024 70% of the applications for businesses will be built using low-code.
At Quandary, we’ve built custom applications in low code that have helped construction companies achieve enterprise-level performance without the enterprise-level price tag.
Plus, you won’t have to bend your business to fit your tools. And you won’t have to over-invest in a riskier custom system built from scratch. Instead, you get SaaS pricing for construction management solutions, allowing you to easily move away from Excel.
3. Don’t Overlook Familiarity in Design
While you want to make sure your construction management solution has the features your team needs, you don’t want it to be too alien. You’ll experience pushback from your team if your new systems seem too complex or challenging at the start.
4. Build the Right Culture
Businesses need to grow and adapt if they’re going to last. If your workplace culture doesn’t embrace those ideologies, you’re going to continuously meet pushback any time you try to improve systems.
As a leader, you need to build a culture of reflection, growth, and change into the foundation of your construction business. Your team should be excited about new systems, and trust that you’re leading down the right path.
Encourage them to test out new software and reflect on their processes, looking for ways to improve them. You can even reward team members for taking the initiative to find solutions to your construction project management problems.
5. Fix What’s Broken
Adopting a new system is the best time to revisit your construction company’s workflows. Map out your systems and processes. Remove redundancies. Question everything. It could be that there are unnecessary procedures in place that waste time, energy, and resources.
Take a step back and evaluate how work gets done in your business. And use your transition away from Excel as a springboard to launch future optimizations.
6. Embrace the Change
As a leader, you need to embrace your construction company’s transition away from spreadsheets toward superior systems. You need to commit to the change and enforce it from the top down.
If you feel the urge to move back to Excel, don’t give in. Focus on all the problems spreadsheets can cause your business. You’ll quickly remember that there are plenty of ways spreadsheets negatively impact your business.
Remember that any discontent or frustration from change can be managed. Don’t be afraid to share your feelings, but do so by trying to find a solution in mind.
You can also hold regular meetings to discuss the onboarding process. They should feel involved in the process at every stage. This will help them embrace the transition.
At Quandary, we understand how difficult change management is. That’s why we work with our construction-focused clients to migrate them away from Excel toward better systems.
7. Set Realistic Expectations
Chances are Excel use is deep-rooted in your organization. You’ll find it in every department of your construction company: from Payroll to HR to Project Management.
Moving your business away from Excel to an alternative is going to take time.
At the start, you’re better off focusing on one area or department and building out a better system that meets your needs. Once you finish transitioning, your team can reflect on the process and measure performance KPIs.
You can use your experience to streamline future transitions away from Excel while using the KPIs to inspire leadership with new system improvements.
If you try to do everything at once, it may be too much for your team and business to handle. You could end up making mistakes that drive costs up. Or, the migration can fail and your team will end up stuck using spreadsheets again.
8. Don’t Overlook Your Team’s Needs
Your new construction management system should address your team’s needs. The more “built to fit” their needs it is, the more it can clearly make their jobs easier. And that will lead to more of your people being on board for the change.
Still, even with the right plan and the best systems, you can’t overlook human nature. People don’t like change. It’s frustrating, stressful, and anxiety-inducing.
As a leader, you need to be ready to navigate these issues. Be ready to listen to your team’s frustrations and work out their problems. Track complaints and use them to make the process easier in the future.
And encourage your employees to be open and honest with you. You don’t want your team to think there’s going to be any kind of negative pushback if you critique the transition. Keep communication open with your team at every stage of the transition.
9. Have Contingency Plans in Place
Things don’t always go according to plan. Don’t assume your transition to a new system for your team is going to be simple and easy. Be prepared for when things go sideways. This will help ensure you don’t lose momentum when you hit slowdowns and roadblocks.
10. Track Results
Any system migration is an investment. And moving away from Excel is no different. That means your team needs to first establish a baseline of data before beginning the transition. And then you need to track data after you migrate to a new system.
This baseline of data will help you determine whether or not the change to a new system was worth the investment. Plus, you can find areas in your new system for further improvements.
Quickbase as Your Alternative to Spreadsheets
At Quandary, we use Quickbase to help our clients transition away from spreadsheets. Whether we’re building them a new project management system, inventory database, or HR automation software, we use low code to build them the exact systems they need.
Using low-code, our team can rapidly drag and drop integrations and applications into existence much faster and a lot cheaper than traditional application development.
The end results are business-changing.
Rather than being trapped by the endless labyrinth of Excel spreadsheets and the kaleidoscope of anxiety-inducing stress that comes with them, our clients have systems that scale with their growth. Data is cleaner. Insights are more actionable. Menial tasks are obliterated.
With Quickbase, we’re able to give our clients exactly what they need to manage their construction processes. All while they wave “bye-bye” to Excel in the rearview mirror.
See how we've helped our clients improve their businesses and get insane ROIs by checking out our case studies below.