According to a number of different surveys conducted over the last few years, spreadsheets are still a commonly used tool for business intelligence. But, according to this article, 90% of spreadsheets contain errors.
Think about that for a second. Many companies still rely on spreadsheets for critical decisions, but most spreadsheets contain significant errors. In other words, critical decisions are made every day based on error-filled spreadsheets. How much does this hurt business?
More than you imagine. According to this article, spreadsheet errors collectively cost businesses $11.5 Billion. Yes, that’s billion, with a “B”.
Why are spreadsheets so popular and why do they contain so many errors? I think the problem is pretty easy to understand. Spreadsheets are used so often because they are readily available and easy to operate. They contain so many errors for a few reasons:
- One spreadsheet is often manipulated by many people. The more people that alter a spreadsheet, the higher the chances for error.
- There is no single version of truth. Because spreadsheets are often distributed via email, one spreadsheet can have multiple versions, each existing in different locations. After a while, no one really knows which version is correct.
- It’s easy to make a mistake. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard about a user who accidentally deleted data or sorted data by only one row rather than the entire spreadsheet. The problem is, many people don’t realize they’ve made these errors until it’s too late.
That being said, I believe the problem boils down to one basic issue: There aren’t any easy-to-use alternatives. Sometimes a company buys BI software to combat the issue, but unless it is easy to use, the users will go right back to spreadsheets.
I have a simple solution for you to try. If your company wants to break free from spreadsheets, you should check out m-Power.
m-Power lets regular users convert spreadsheets into database tables and create web applications over the data. It lets you create all sorts of web-based reports, including the ever-popular pivot table. The benefit: All the data is housed in one location and accessed via the web. No more emailing spreadsheets. No more version control. Instead, you have accurate, web-based reports.
If you want to learn how m-Power can free you from spreadsheets, shoot us a note and we’ll give you a demonstration.