Excel is the reason why many of the organization I work with just can’t get into a working mode where data and analytics guide decisions. Spreadsheets make it easy to build silos around “your own” data and make sure nobody else can gain access to the information that is contained within. Just a few examples:
- I’ve seen people handing out dated versions of the spreadsheets they maintain for operations, just so they keep an edge on everybody else.
- I’ve talked with a research unit where some really crucial calculations are routed through an Excel spreadsheet. Needless to say, that spreadsheet was set up by an employee that long since had left the company and nobody really cares to reverse-engineer what’s going on in there.
- I’ve worked with a company making >€1 bn in revenue a year, completely equipped with an ERP, which had no generally agreed upon way of getting a single number about any of their assets.
Me: “How many buildings do you manage?“
Them: “Between 300 and 400 depending on who you ask.”
This was (of course) due to the numerous Excel solutions that could be used to get the answer. In short, there was no single point of truth despite the existence of an ERP. Mind-boggling.
- The list goes on…
I honestly think Excel is holding many companies back. It’s creating bottlenecks. It often doesn’t allow an efficient way of working, and it prohibits the use of machine learning and artificial intelligence applications that could improve workflows. I recently wrote an article about that: