In many ways, Excel is a great application. It is capable of doing far more than we give it credit for. In fact, in the hands of someone who knows their way around its many features, Excel can be a great, if not an exceptional tool. Like everything else, however, it does have its limitations and when it comes to organising information, using Microsoft Excel can be a terrible idea.

In this article, we will be looking at why Microsoft Excel is terrible for organising information and why it’s important to find suitable platforms to organise and manage our information.

Scalability

Excel can easily handle a decent amount of data but when it passes a certain point, things begin to break down very quickly. Of course, there are ways around this. You can always divide your data in multiple sheets but this will only add more human intervention to a delicate process. This can increase the risk of losing or corrupting important information.

It is no secret that the amount of information we are able to collect is growing exponentially. Many companies and entities are using this data to create a competitive advantage for themselves which in turn drives adoption of BI tools, which, by extension, drives the cost of such technologies down. Data can be one of your most valuable assets but unless you can harness it to its full extent, seeing an ROI is going to be next to impossible.

As we said earlier, Excel can do a pretty good job in many different scenarios however it does so at an expense. These expenses can range from macro customisations to the maintenance of carefully balanced workflows. Investing in the proper tools can not only save your data but provide you with the insight to succeed in the market of the future.

Security

Whilst Excel has some security functionality such as locking a file with a password, it is nowhere near enough to manage multiple users accessing and editing the same file. If you happen to use Microsoft Excel 365, you might be able to enjoy greater degrees of control but this is a far cry from what many dedicated data management systems offer.

From complying with industry regulations to keeping your company and data safe, security is something which unfortunately not too many companies think deeply enough about. Information carries with it certain responsibilities. Failure to uphold these responsibilities can result in huge fines which would have covered the costs of a more suitable system.

Security should be given its due consideration especially when it comes to sensitive information. The introduction of regulations such as GDPR has put the onus on companies. This makes having the right checks and balances more important than ever before with the right systems safeguarding you from possible debilitating litigation.

Workflows

Just like everything else, Excel can be a great tool in many scenarios. When it comes to workflows and optimising the way data is acquired and processed, Excel tends to suffer tremendously. The issue lies in both compatibility as well as automation of workflows. At the most basic level, too much human input is required which can not only be expensive but also prone to human errors.

While the newer versions of Excel have API connectivity functions, these can involve considerably more manual intervention than systems built for the management and organisation of information. Formatting data can be a long and complex undertaking which Excel does not tend to facilitate in most scenarios.

Even if you’re not looking at integrations now, we are quickly becoming aware of how fast the markets can change and being ready to make use of the data you have to pivot your business can mean the difference between your business flourishing or failing.

Utility

There is a big difference between data and information. This is not something that too many people are aware of. Data is important but it is only when we are able to turn it into information that we can derive utility from it. When data is presented as information we can quickly disseminate and understand, the more valuable it becomes to us. Coincidentally, this is another area where Microsoft Excel tends to suffer.

At the most basic level, the difference between data and information lies in the presentation.

Data: 12032019,20,5000
Information: Date: 12.03/2019, Number of Sales: 20, Revenue: 5,000

As we can see, information has a far greater utility to us than data. This is well and good and perfectly achievable in Excel. The issues tend to surface when we start looking beyond the most basic of information structures. Whilst it is certainly possible to draw charts in Excel, with many tools at our disposal, doing so in an automated fashion with large datasets is near impossible.

Collaboration

Allowing teams and individuals to collaborate on projects has many many benefits. Whether it’s within a team, company, or entities outside of the company, collaboration has many benefits. Being able to collaborate in a secure and productive environment is imperative to success and this starts with having the right tools.

Sharing an Excel file, whether it’s by email or storing it on a shared server is prone to errors and can quickly descend into a multi-version nightmare that is near-impossible to reconcile. This can also lead to historical data loss which can cause problems when it comes to verifying data integrity.

Collaboration can take various forms, which can also include data presentation. With dedicated tools increasingly featuring automated reports and advanced visualisation tools, investing in such a system can not only make your life easier but possibly also add value to what you do.