Is Excel holding your business back?

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Is Excel holding your business back?

When you are a small company, Excel is a godsend as its so easy to update data, sort/select, and generate reports. But when should you think about a system to replace it?

For some companies, the answer is never, whereas for others there isn't a clear answer, but there are some telltale signs.

The single version of the truth

A side effect of the ease of use is the ability to copy and change a whole Excel.

This makes it very easy to have lots of Excels that are essentially the same – albeit with slight variations.

If you have many Excels with version numbers or have the same Excel in different places, then you are suffering from the "single version of the truth" problem and so it may be time to look for a system to replace your Excels.

While good process management can help with this, it cannot solve it in the long term and more and more you will be caught out by updating the wrong Excel or creating reports over it.

Time management

As the number of Excels grows, so does the time needed to update the "master" Excel, manage the copies of the "master" Excel and generate any meaningful reports that span areas.

For small companies, the time spent can be a significant part of the weekly schedule.

If you or your staff are spending a lot of time manging Excel, then its probably time to start looking for a system.

Macro complexity

As the number of "master" excels grows, this disparate information will need to be drawn together into operational and management reports.

Excel macros and formulas are the usual way of drawing lots of disparate information together.

If only one person in your company can change and understand this area, then this also is a sure-fire indication you need to look for a system.


When your company is small it's easy to allow all staff to have access to all Excels.

However, as your company grows, you don't want to have all staff to have access to all areas, so there is likely to be a special "folder" somewhere for management information.

Moreover, you may not want people to have access to the "master" excels at all times for operational reasons.

While this is part of time management, I have separated this out as its an area that people don't think about.

If you are having to think about what people can access data then this is also a sign that you should start to look for a system.

Data propagation

With the current situation of CV19 and that agency, staff are now used fairly extensively, another area that is often missed is when people are working remotely or are part of another organization.

Do you really want them to have a copy of your hard-won data?

The standard answer is that "we trust them", but this isn't a matter of trust but an extension of the "single version of the truth" and Security issues.

If you are starting to send Excels to remote working staff, then this is an indication you may need to start looking at a system.


If your company works in the Telemarketing area and are starting to see these symptoms in your operations, take a look at SmileCRM or give us a call.