mrc's Cup of Joe Blog

Join us in exploring the world of modern development, evolving technologies, and the art of future-proof software


Struggling with spreadsheets? Turn them into web apps

EducationHow many business users in your company rely on spreadsheets on a regular basis? How many users access and edit a single spreadsheet? I know what you’re thinking: “How should I know?”

That’s the point. There’s no way to know. If your employees use spreadsheets to create reports, maintain business data, or even share data with other employees, it’s out of the IT department’s control. They could accidentally email spreadsheets full of critical business data to their friends, and you’d never know. Ten different employees could alter the same spreadsheet (often incorrectly), and you’d never know.

How do you regain control over your company’s data?

The ideal solution: Put all of that spreadsheet data into a secure database, and let employees create web applications over the top of it. The benefits of this approach are obvious:

  1. It’s safer: The IT department secures the data and controls user access.
  2. It’s more accessible: Rather than mailing spreadsheets to each other, users can access their data via the web.
  3. It opens up new options: Once data is in a database, users can create all types of applications over that data, like reports, BI apps, mobile apps, and more.

The question: How can users easily convert their spreadsheet data into a database, AND build web applications over that data? Believe it or not, it’s actually simple. Rather than try to explain it, this video walks you through the whole process (in under 3 minutes).

5 common IT practices that waste your time

Save TimeHow much time do you waste at work? It might be more than you think. No, I’m not referring to blatant wastes of time like talking on the phone all day, surfing the web, or even sleeping. I’m referring to work-related practices that keep IT professionals busy, yet ultimately unproductive.

Here’s the tricky part: They aren’t easy to identify. They look like work, they feel like work, but they keep your IT department from accomplishing important tasks.

So, how can you avoid these time-wasting practices and focus your efforts on essential tasks? The first step: Identify the culprits. To help you out, I’ve compiled a list of 5 of the most common, yet unnecessary IT practices that waste your time. If you can think of any others, feel free to share in the comments.

3 reasons to move your spreadsheets to the web (and how to do it)

EducationEveryday, thousands of employees put their companies at risk through spreadsheet misuse. For example, some use spreadsheets to maintain critical business data. Others go even further, and distribute those spreadsheets to multiple users across different departments. Others go further still, and even base business decisions off of these spreadsheets.

If that’s happening in your company, here are two articles you’ll want to read: This article references a study that uncovered a shocking statistic on spreadsheet errors. This website highlights real-life business problems caused by spreadsheet errors.

So, what can you do about spreadsheet misuse? What’s the alternative to spreadsheets? The answer: Put that data in a database, and build web applications over the database. Here are three reasons why that approach is better than spreadsheets:

How to turn a spreadsheet into a web app in 3 minutes

EducationI’ve mentioned the dangers of spreadsheet misuse on many occasions, and explained why it’s so important to put that spreadsheet data into your database. However, I realized that I’ve never showed you how to turn your spreadsheets into database-driven web apps.

So, we created a video to do just that. The following video explains why you should convert your spreadsheets into web apps, and even shows you how it’s done. You might be surprised to learn just how simple this process is.

Note: This video is best viewed in 720p(HD) resolution at full screen. Click the “gear” icon below the video to change the resolution.

Spreadsheet misuse: Why it happens and how to stop it

Save MoneyDo you know why end users still use spreadsheet programs (like Excel) so frequently, despite all of the security concerns? The answer is simple: Spreadsheets are easy.

Sure, maybe they’ve sat through training classes on how to use your enterprise software. Maybe they already learned about the dangers of spreadsheet misuse. Maybe you’ve even given them a safer alternative to spreadsheets. But, here’s the problem: If the process isn’t as easy (or easier) than Excel, they probably won’t use it.

The solution: Give users simple, secure web applications that replace the most common Excel uses. In what ways is Excel most commonly used? When you boil it down, end users typically use Excel in three ways:

  1. They enter data
  2. They manipulate (edit, sort, and filter) data
  3. They analyze data

If you want to eliminate spreadsheet misuse, give users a better, safer way to accomplish the three tasks listed above. The best way to accomplish this: Give them web applications! Don’t know where to start? Here are some great web applications that replace the most common uses of Excel.

5 most common IT money-wasters

Save MoneyTell me, is your IT department wasting your company’s money? That’s a tricky question to answer. Nobody wants to waste money, yet despite best efforts to the contrary, many IT departments unwittingly waste money every day.

How so? While I couldn’t possibly cover every way in one blog post, I’ve put together a list of some of the most common ways that IT departments waste money. If you’re looking for ways your company can save money, start by investigating these 5 areas: