Image by Craig Chew-Moulding
Microsoft Excel certainly has some winning qualities. It’s easy-to-use for most business users and analysts, and you don’t need a background in SQL or database management to update data or build reports. Despite these benefits, Excel isn’t always the right data tool.
As your requirements evolve, you may find that you’ve “outgrown” Excel. If your organization’s data assets are rapidly increasing, it may be a sign that it’s time to consider a relational database. Here are some signs it’s time for an upgrade:
1. You’re Having to Reconcile Spreadsheets
Excel lacks essential version control features. This could mean that you constantly have to reconcile spreadsheets due to separate updates. For instance, when you have 20 staff members responsible for data entry in an Excel document, changes can cause version control issues - and even security issues, especially when those changes pile up. In turn, this can lead to overall quality issues.
What’s the solution? Use a relational database that can accommodate multiple users within a business and implements access control. This way, you have one single version of data.
2. Your Computer Is Running Slower
Assuming you are working on a modern version of Excel, you can store up to a million rows, or records. However, most computers begin to get bogged down by the processing requirements of Excel data sets that are a fraction of the limit, such as 100,000 rows. If you’re waiting for Excel to load or update, and finding yourself texting a joke to a friend while that’s happening, you’re wasting time.
What’s the solution? Find software that can easily handle large amounts of data. Databases are designed to quickly process many records. Your tools should encourage, not hinder, productivity.
3. Entry Errors Are Hurting Your Business
A simple typo in an Excel doc can cause major issues. Think about this incident: A mistake made by an overworked staffer of JPMorgan while pasting figures into a spreadsheet led to a loss of over $6 billion. That’s a lot of cash! Why even put yourself at risk for such monumental errors?
What’s the solution? Instead of using Excel and running the risk of typos causing huge miscalculations, employ software that is specifically built for data entry and validation.
4. Users Are Using All Sorts of Devices and Apps
While Excel is quite powerful, the fact is that it’s designed for use on a single desktop or laptop computer. The problem with that is mobile users now outnumber desktop users. Hence, you need a way for your users to access and use spreadsheet data across a variety of devices, from smartphones and tablets to office computers.
What’s the solution? Utilize a mobile-friendly relational database management system that suits your needs in today’s evolving work world.
5. You’re Doing Work that can be Automated
From manually inputting data to redundant copying and pasting between different sheets, there are many ways that you can waste time using Excel. By working smarter, you can get the same amount of work complete - in much less time.
What’s the solution? There are many software products for databases that automate data extraction, trasformation, and loading of data. Using these products can increase individual productivity
While Excel is a very capable business tool, analysts should make sure they’re working smarter, not harder. If your spreadsheets have become more of a burden than an aid, it may be time to switch to a database.
Another advantage of switching to a database is using other applications, like Beekeeper, to get more out of your data. Beekeeper lets you quickly build and automate reports and send them by email. Make customers and co-workers happier and more efficient, with Beekeeper. Install for free or schedule a demo.