Spreadsheet growing pains

In my LinkedIn feed there seems to be a lot of posts about automating processes so that your business “back office” runs seamlessly in the cloud without apparently needing much human input.

This is great: who doesn’t love getting computers to do the dull and boring processing (which basically amounts to copying) freeing us humans up to do more valuable (and hopefully more interesting) work?

But what about the recording that can’t be automated?

Sometimes it’s good to record figures manually, even when it comes to accounts. I have a client who could happily automate their purchase ledger, saving time and money, but they would rather process purchase invoices manually in order to check that the invoices are correct and keep an eye on spending.

And sometimes there is no off the shelf package to record and analyse the figures just the way you want to, and that’s usually where excel comes in. Just before Christmas I was working on a project with a different client who has a totally bespoke spreadsheet to manage her sales team’s pipelines and another to record productivity information for a team of 50. Once again, while it may be possible to find “an app for that” there is a lot of value in keying in the data by hand.

However the principles of automation still apply to spreadsheets; it’s worth entering the data once, but more than once is a waste of time and gives rise to potential errors. In the case before Christmas part of the project was to condense 26 separate spreadsheets into just the 1.

I’ve waited to post about this until we have had a chance to review the success of the new set up, but yesterday the office manager told me how grateful the team are that their workload has been transformed! So if you rely on spreadsheets, but you’re starting to think that as your business grows they’re not working quite so well then give me a call and we can review your system and make it work more effectively.

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