Young man looking at computer screen showing Excel spreadsheet

It’s Time to Get Over Excel

Denis Storey
April 26, 2018

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We all know the story so well that it’s become cliché: Nerdy friends get together on the weekends to build some critical component of the next generation of technology – whether it’s software or hardware. For childhood friends Paul Allen and Bill Gates, it turned out to be nothing less than an operating system that would emerge as an industry standard.

Later, in 1990, the pair would roll out another little product called Microsoft Office, a bundle of applications that included a word processor and a spreadsheet that would also set the bar high for productivity applications.

But what once transformed the business landscape with its ground-breaking technology has done little to keep up with the times, let alone drive innovation.

Meet the New Excel…

Few would argue the fact that Excel has changed how we all do business. It’s easy to understand how we fell in love with it. It boasts several strengths, such as:

  1. Excel has been excellent for productivity, both personally and professionally. Its ability to organize and store incredible amounts of data has been its core value proposition for decades – and it still holds. Throw in its ability to help users analyze that data and convert it into colorful charts and graphs. It can transform the most introverted bean counter into the most gregarious of graphic designers.

  2. By extension, Excel presented number crunchers with something they never had before: the ability to quickly run calculations on vast chunks of data – all with the click of a mouse. This functionality improved efficiencies across the board and leveled the playing field (at least a little) between the big corporations and smaller businesses.

…Same as the Old Excel

But nothing lasts forever. And after 30 years and too few changes, the wrinkles have begun carving their way across Excel’s once-pretty face, such as:

  1. Even after an intense – and expensive – initial set-up, Excel doesn’t do anything on its own. It remains an incredibly labor-intensive application, sucking hours of productivity away from employees who might be better allocated elsewhere. And when those employees move on, whether it’s to other departments or new jobs altogether, that loss of institutional knowledge can cripple a database. Worse still, even the most meticulous of maintenance can’t catch everything, which can lead to…

  2. Computers, and the applications that run on them, only do what the user tells them to. And they’re only as accurate as the data they’re given. One University of Hawaii study suggests that one out of every 100 cells in an Excel document contains an error. That might not sound like much, but spreadsheets grow like special counsel investigations, which means mistakes can pile up just as quickly. Even the smallest of stumbles can snowball into billion-dollar catastrophes.

You don’t have the time or money for mistakes, mainly when operating under a regulatory microscope. But there’s a better way. TraceGains offers a singularly robust digital platform, including solutions such as Specification Management, which ensures version control and reduces costly rework.

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