12 Unusual Ways Excel Harms Your Construction Business
Most businesses rely on spreadsheets for reporting critical business data. Often, they push the functionality of Excel beyond its capabilities. It’s like trying to use a hammer to fix everything. It’s a powerful tool but not the best fit for every situation.
As your construction business grows, your overreliance on Excel puts your business at risk and can potentially harm your business. To paint a better picture, here are 11 unusual ways that Excel can harm your construction business.
1. Spreadsheets Silo Data
Without a centralized system, your data will be spread across multiple spreadsheets. Merging that data is a time-consuming nightmare, often involving copying and pasting large amounts of information.
2. Spreadsheets Have Numerous Errors
Reporting tends to be manual and full of errors. In fact, most spreadsheets have errors. That’s because your data can differ from system to system. Moving that information manually invites costly errors. Merging reports can also damage data integrity.
3. Dangerous Errors Can Be Subtle
Errors can be challenging to detect in Excel. While you’ll notice errors that are clearly marked or that are incredibly inaccurate, that isn’t always the case. These errors simply stay there, guiding construction businesses down the wrong path.
4. Data Maintenance Is a Pain
With multiple collaborators on multiple siloed systems across multiple departments, maintaining data in spreadsheets is like herding cats. They’re full of inconsistencies.
And tracking down the right people on the right project for insights is a nightmare, too. To manage this catastrophe, people add notes and columns, only making the situation worse.
5. Spreadsheets Limit Insights
Spreadsheets can’t handle large amounts of information. Old data is often lost or ignored. As a result, you lose insights. Additionally, teams might track different KPIs, making it hard to see trends. And because spreadsheets aren’t updated in real-time, data can grow old quickly.
6. Data Visualization Is Weak
Spreadsheets make interpreting data a real challenge. While you can pull information into a handful of graphs and charts, it’s not always the easiest to read and understand. This means your teams will struggle with interpreting the data or understanding your insights.
7. Data Security Is Even Weaker
Spreadsheets are not secure. That’s especially true if your construction organization shares Excel files using email. Password-protected files provide a single breakpoint for security, leaving your information vulnerable to cyber attacks.
Many hackers will use phishing emails with Excel files attached. Employees mistake these files for company documents, open them, and accidentally download malicious files.
8. Collaboration Can Be a Struggle
While there have been updates in cloud functionality with Excel and other spreadsheet alternatives, collaboration can still be a challenge. You’re limited to 10 collaborators. Leaving comments can be tricky. And it can be hard to correct mistakes.
9. Multiple Versions of the Same File Cause Problems
If someone doesn’t have Office 365, they’ll end up downloading a version of the file to work on it independently. That opens the door for confusion down the road. Sharing a dated file might lead to team members working on an irrelevant document.
10. There Are Too Many Spreadsheets to Manage
From personal versions of spreadsheets to a spreadsheet for nearly every data source in every department, Excel use in your construction business is likely exponential. And that makes finding, accessing, updating, and managing that information difficult.
11. Accountability Is a Real Concern
Auditing spreadsheets isn’t easy. Some platforms highlight changes, but it’s really difficult to see who did what and when. This makes it hard to ensure your team stays compliant. And that’ll put you at risk for major data management violations (like GDPR, CCPA, etc.)
12. Formulas Break Without Users Knowing
Excel Formulas regularly break without the end-user knowledge. This means that the data you report could be incorrect without you knowing (and at no fault of yours). As a result, it may be some time before your team finds the error. Unfortunately, you’ll have to backtrack through that data to fix mistakes while dealing with the fallout from any errors that already ran their course.
13. Excel Lack Mobility
Need to review a spreadsheet away from your desktop? Good luck trying to do that with Excel.
Viewing and editing spreadsheets from your mobile device (phone or tablet) is extremely difficult. Zooming in/out is challenging. Navigating text/font issues can be a headache. And trying to edit any field ( fixing typos, inserting links, adding images, updating content, etc..) is pretty much a nightmare.
When it comes to Excel, it’s just not a mobile-friendly tool for business. At all...
Why Do Construction Companies Still Use Spreadsheets?
If spreadsheets are so bad, why do businesses large and small continue to cling to them? They’re easy to use, adaptable tools that are fairly inexpensive.
People are also comfortable with spreadsheets. They’ve been around for a while, so most people have grown accustomed to using them over the years.
Typically, construction businesses start off using whatever system is the most affordable and comfortable. Over time, as a business grows, it outgrows its systems.
But changing to a new system is risky.
It involves investing time and resources while hoping the end result provides a justifiable ROI. Plus, you don’t want to be the one people point to if things go wrong.
Especially, if you spend months trying to convince your team to adopt a new system…
As a result, many construction companies cling to dated systems. They kick the can down the road incorrectly, assuming that spreadsheets are “good enough” for now.
The Best Alternative to Excel for Construction Companies
Most of the “alternatives” to excel out there are simply rehashed versions of the same thing. Smartsheet, for example, is basically Excel, but online. Other versions attempt to make up for the platform's shortcomings, but they still cling to what’s familiar.
And that’s the problem.
If you want to break away from the problems Excel creates for your business while reducing costs and risks, you need a better project management solution.
At Quandary, we transition construction companies away from Excel using Quickbase. The low code platform allows us to rapidly drag and drop custom solutions into existing ones faster and cheaper than traditional business application development or turnkey project management solutions.
With Quickbase, you’ll get a built-to-suit solution for managing your construction projects across multiple locations without the hassle of being held back by spreadsheets. Plus, you'll get an executive dashboard that seamlessly integrates data across all realms.
That's the global snapshot you need.
See how we've helped our clients improve their businesses and get insane ROIs by checking out our case studies below.