Excel/spreadsheets are one of the most used formats for tracking things including; logging expenditure, employee work hours, data analysis, accounting and data storage. Even the Military use this format to keep track of supplies.
Across all industries, it’s almost certain that on one level or another a spreadsheet will be used. You may well assume, therefore, that this is a well understood and known format to use, given so many people across all sorts of careers are using spreadsheets. That is not a correct assumption to make…
According to a 2008 research study by Ray Panko, a Professor at the University of Hawaii, 88% of Excel spreadsheets contain errors. 750 million people around the world use Excel to create spreadsheets: you can imagine the sheer number of mistakes that are made if 88% of these contain them…
Macros and logic errors
Macros are our first culprits. Macros allow more advanced usage of Excel; for example, some companies using Excel in construction use them for tracking timesheets. They require a good knowledge base to set up successfully, without error. For an average user, this would be far too complex without training.
These Macro setups are so difficult that a single wrong text or numerical entry can bring the whole spreadsheet down. This can obviously have financial or productivity repercussions when it comes to the data loss of something such as a timesheet.
Most errors are caused by mistakes within the programming logic itself. Once these mistakes are made, it is almost always incredibly hard to find these errors and correct them. These spreadsheets only get more confusing and difficult if you wish to use them to track a large amount of data.
Saving and backups
The second issue is saving. You have been told all your life to keep saving as much as possible to ensure that something like the application crashing or power cutting out doesn’t cause you to lose what you have created. Surprisingly, this is the opposite. In this case, saving constantly can cause a mistake to be overwritten. Some software allows you to go back previously. But if there is an issue within the spreadsheet, you will be unable to go back and fix this with a single click of a button. Utilities such as cloud storage is ideal in this instance. They are able to save as you continue, instead of worrying about saving local copies and not being able to return back to a working spreadsheet.
It is also recommended that when formulating a spreadsheet, creating a pre-edited copy can ensure that there is a copy made before an error possibly results in the spreadsheet being unfixable.
Excel error Statistics
- TransAlta lost $24 Million because of a copy-paste error. That was 10% of the entire company’s profit.
- Kodak, in 2005, had to pay out $11 million due to an Excel typo.
- JP Morgan suffered a £6 Billion trading due to a copy-paste error.
Automated systems are the way
As you can see, spreadsheet mistakes can cost millions to businesses and severe operational delays. Many businesses are moving to dedicated software and cloud-based services. This is because there are many better ways of handling data on dedicated services as opposed to using spreadsheets.
Instead of using software that has a high learning curve, advanced and confusing features, and the ability to easily create mistakes, pre-purposed software can be a way of ensuring that your business isn’t going to be at a loss financially due to human error such as moving a cell.
A timesheet or asset tracking program can be used to safely store data on a system guaranteed to be secure and stable from data loss. These can be preset to work simply and easily, without the need for macros or other confusing software settings. Solutions such as these are also well designed, enabling you to edit what you need and to not have to worry about breaking a complicated spreadsheet as users will not be able to change something on the level that would cause software issues. Solutions such as these are also designed in such a way that minimal training is required which is perfect for cost saving.
How do you use Excel in construction? We’d love to hear your thoughts!