Attention All Excel Spreadsheet Ninjas: You’re Doing It Wrong!
There is a new and improved solution in town, and it’s making everyone’s life a whole lot easier.
Imagine consolidating multiple data formats effortlessly, eliminating manual manipulation and human error, including endless volumes of data, and saving countless hours of manpower. These benefits and more are available today via business intelligence (BI) tools.
Excel, of course, is still an awesome and incredibly valuable tool. It’s trusted, reliable and familiar. However, it also has its drawbacks. Let’s look at some of the most common limitations of Excel when used for reporting.
Most reports are pulled on a recurring basis to show trends and identify opportunities and challenges. These daily, weekly and monthly reports are only valid for a short period of time. By the time needed data is pulled and the report is generated, it could already be out-of-date. BI tools use real-time data and produce reports that are refreshed as often as you want to see it, down to the minute!
Building analysis in Excel is time-consuming, and there are typically a limited number of individuals within a company that know how to set up complex formulas, macros and add-ins to produce comprehensive results. Often, this means there is not a second set of eyes to review and validate the logic behind the spreadsheet and confirm that there are no errors. With BI tools, the logic has been built and tested tens of thousands of times to guarantee accuracy.
Another common challenge with Excel reporting is incorporating all the necessary data into a single spreadsheet. For instance, if you need to include data from your ERP system, marketing platforms, CRM and financial systems, just getting started is a monolithic endeavor. In most cases, companies are successful in combining a few data sets, but end up dealing with multiple files to review because the time and expense to compile everything is simply too high. BI tools provide a single pane of glass from which users can easily extract actionable information and customize the report to include easy-to-read graphics and visualizations.
Version control ranks high on the list of annoyances with most Excel projects. Once a report is produced and shared, spreadsheet versions tend to multiply like bunnies. Individuals manipulate the data in search of details specific to their area of responsibility or add information that was previously left out, etc. This creates an opportunity for human error, adds confusion, and leads to debates among the team that is reviewing the data. Emailing and sharing the files with no traceability are poses a significant security concern. Logging into a BI tool with user-specific credentials provides security, and working with one version of the truth in real-time eliminates any confusion over which version to review.
Today’s BI tools solve all these problems and more. Reports are easy to understand and do not require in-depth knowledge of data analysis. Graphical dashboards clearly demonstrate trends and opportunities evident from your data. ClicData BI solutions are also customizable and mobile friendly.