The Million Dollar Spreadsheet

Articles > The Million Dollar Spreadsheet

When performing technology assessments, I like to ask the following basic question: “How many spreadsheets do you depend on to run your business?”

Almost without exception, there is some mild embarrassment and a number is muttered in a barely audible voice. Many of these businesses have the necessary systems in place but for a variety of reasons, they resort to spreadsheets for critical functions. Common reasons include 1) lack of end-user training on existing systems 2) pride of ownership over an “awesome spreadsheet,” or the global standard 3) “because that’s how we’ve always done it.”

Don’t get me wrong, I’m a big fan of spreadsheets when they are used appropriately. The spreadsheet is arguably the most useful business software tool ever created. From basic data collection to advanced features like pivot tables, the spreadsheet is powerful because of its ease of use and its flexibility. More recently, cloud-based spreadsheets like Microsoft Office365 and Google Sheets have solved the challenge of spreadsheet collaboration.

The problems begin when spreadsheets are being used as the primary holder of critical business data or for key, recurring management reports. We have all seen examples of a management report that is some employee’s sole purpose in life for one whole week every month. Another popular one is the sales forecast spreadsheet that is emailed around with versions managed by creative file names like “Sales Pipeline – Final FINAL” or “Q4 Forecast v4 (2).”

So the real question is “how much is this reliance on spreadsheets costing your business?” What is the impact of taking a week to create a report that really should be available in real-time? Or what about the cost of lost data when a spreadsheet gets deleted, corrupted, or even stolen? My bet is that there are spreadsheets that easily have an opportunity cost of a million dollars or maybe even MORE.

Does your business have any of these spreadsheets?

The good news is that the solution may be already be within arm’s reach. By taking the simple step of better utilizing available tools, you can improve process efficiency and reduce business risk. The next step is to ensure that you are getting the full ROI on the systems you have implemented.

If your technology strategy is underperforming, you need to consider adding technology leadership to your C-suite. CTO Nation provides part-time CTO services that will drive bottom line growth for your business.

Million Dollar Spreadsheet

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