Top 5 signs your business should move beyond Excel


In our last article, we talked about Data Strategy – what it is and why every business needs one.
As a business owner, you may think that you’re managing your data quite well using Excel. You have created pivot tables and charts in Excel to analyze your data and don’t need anything ‘fancy’.
Or maybe, you’re starting to use your data to grow your business and are experiencing the drawbacks of using Excel for data analysis and decision making.

Here are the top 5 signs that you need to move beyond Excel to a data management system that consolidates all your data and allows you to quickly access and analyze it.

1. Too much data, too many versions

Lot of businesses rely exclusively on Excel to manage different pieces of data (e.g.: sales data, project status, employee performance etc. ). They create reports from these Excel documents. Weekly reports, quarterly reports and the like. The trouble with using Excel for this kind of analysis is twofold:

a. Size: Over time the data grows so large that marcos run slowly, charts don’t get updated quickly. Breaking the data into multiple spreadsheets introduces new problems – it becomes impossible to blend, analyze, and visualize all the data in one place.

b. Version control: Maintaining data in Excel means multiple versions of the same data, spread across employee PCs, emails, and shared drives. It means that there is no single, reliable, golden source of data that can be used to make business decisions.

2. Data-less business decisions

Maintaining data in Excel often means you’re making business decisions with partial or no data at all. You’re making a decision on how much of a SKU to stock or when to hire more workers based on data scattered in different spreadsheets. You’re spending more time finding the latest version of a spreadsheet and looking for spreadsheets buried in your email Inbox and less time analyzing your data to discover new insights from it.

3. You don’t know your own ROIs

As a business owner you’re spending money on SEO, Google Ad Words, Facebook Ads, and email marketing. These investments are driving sales, but you don’t know where should you put more of your marketing dollars next month. Does Google Ads work better than Facebook? Or should you focus more on email marketing? Downloading Excel spreadsheets with social media analytics and trying to merge them together to get a clear picture is not something most business owners have the time or skills for.

4. You can’t prove your value to clients

Without historical data that is easy to access and analyze, it is difficult to demonstrate your value to clients – For example, your clients sales figures in Q4 this year are 20% higher than in Q4 last year because of certain changes you implemented. But unless you can quickly get insights from your data, its challenging to prove to your clients that you are giving them a good ROI.

5. You don’t know your KPIs

Do you have KPIs you want to track for your business? Do you know your profit margins, CoGs, expenses breakdown and other indicators of your business’ health? Combining PoS data with data from all other systems to get a clear picture of your business’ financial health is time consuming and complex. In order to set goals for your business based on current performance and achieve those goals, you need to have your data well organized beyond spreadsheets to quickly access, analyze, and visualize it.

If any of these signs sound familiar to you, it may be time to invest in a data management and visualization system for your business.

What’s Next?

You don’t need to buy a costly, off the shelf product to move beyond Excel. You also don’t need to invest $50,000 and hire someone to create a completely custom system which will be hard to maintain and upgrade. There are a large number of open source and commercial solutions available for data management, analysis, and visualization. You can select the right one based on cost, features, your data security needs, reporting needs and then work with a technical team to implement the solution.

At Data Clariti, we’re very experienced at helping clients make the choice of data management and reporting systems that work for them, and also at implementing these solutions. Our proprietary 25 point checklist will help you select the data management and reporting platform that’s right for you. If you’d like to learn more, contact us at [email protected] with a brief description of your problem. We’ll be in touch within 24 hours.