Spreadsheets aren’t helping your business


It's time to ditch spreadsheets and take business analysis and task prioritisation seriously. But how?

Spreadsheets are fantastic bits of software, aren't they? All the data is so well ordered and easy to organise. You have to key it in or import it from somewhere else, of course, but once it's there, well. There it is.

And you can manipulate the data as well, turning it into statistical charts or exporting it back into other applications. Provided it's formatted correctly, that is. But even if it isn't formatted correctly or if there's a mistake in the formula or if the data format needs adjusting to perform the function you want, you can just manually change it. You just find the information that you need in the software where it originated, and then rekey it into the spreadsheet in a new format so that it can relate to the other data in the spreadsheet. Phew, that was easy!

Square peg, round hole
Spreadsheets, like Microsoft Excel, are supposedly so great, in fact, that thousands of businesses are using them to do the work of enterprise oversight, a job they are not at all designed to do. In a way, it seems perfectly logical. Spreadsheets compile data into tidy tables. They make it simple to understand and visualise. Lots of different types of data can be kept in one place. Many people can access it if it is stored centrally on a server, making collaboration seem like a cinch. Office software suites come with spreadsheet software as part of the package, and free cloud options, like Google Sheets, abound. What's not to like?

Unfortunately, quite a lot. Spreadsheets are great tools for analyzing figures for a one-off project, there's no question. Budget variance? Check. Statistical reports? Absolutely. Manufacturing schedules, client database, marketing campaign text library, contract review deadlines, critical knowledge repository? No, no, no, no, no.

Memory game
One of the biggest problems with relying on spreadsheets is duplication of work. Pulling data into spreadsheets from elsewhere requires someone to do that job, either by downloading CSV files and then reformatting the data or else manually rekeying information from paper forms or some other source. It's more an analogue tool than a digital one when it's being used in this way. This doesn't just take up time resources to populate a spreadsheet. It also relies on keystroke accuracy and precision data entry by the user.

In other words, it's dangerously susceptible to human error. Not malicious attack, just mistakes. And it costs companies millions every year in time and money correcting and reworking not just the spreadsheet itself but the knock-on effects:
● Missed deadlines
● Incorrect product specs
● Inaccurate quotes
● Overwritten and lost data
● Angry customers

The fact is, spreadsheets are made to handle short term number crunching. Anything more than that, and certainly any data that is more alpha than numeric belongs in either a database or other specialist software. This reduces duplication, allows data to be properly analysed, and can let you automate certain tasks.

Go fish
So then the perennial problem for every business returns: how to collate information from various sources into one place where everyone can see it. How can the manufacturing department get insight into what's happening in sales if they are using different software? How can the finance team understand cash flow if they can't access the production schedule?

An enterprise dashboard is the solution. This is a digital tool that doesn't replace your software, but rather integrates it into one working system. It is customised entirely to your business, your workflow priorities, your applications.

And it's called Clockworx.

Building blocks
We take a holistic approach to understanding data flow in your company. Who holds the information, who needs it, who makes the decisions, who is responsible for the outcomes? With that understanding and the core values of your business as the foundation, we erect digital framing. On this frame, we work with you to add your legacy software and to talk through any new applications that might benefit your workflow. When we're done, you'll have a new place to call home—a Clockworx dashboard. But it will always be a work in progress, a place to grow and flex as your business changes over time.

This dashboard acts as a kind of mission control, where high priority tasks are flagged. Decisions are informed by statistics that are generated by data that is fed from across the organisation. Reports can be generated from multiple applications without having to hunt for the information or to call upon different teams.

The granularity of Clockworx is such that each team member's dashboard can be customised to their level of security clearance or departmental permissions and needs. Whatever their level of decision-making is, they can access that much of each stage of their work, and then it can be automatically escalated to the next manager in the process.

So there is life after spreadsheets. Clockworx makes sure that it's the good place. 



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Saturday, 01 April 2023

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