Six Signs That You Have Confused Your Spreadsheets With a Database

Green industry executives know full well that using the right tool the right job is key to a successful job. It would be pretty hard to cut most yards if you only had a string trimmer.

Every company needs technology to maintain their information and work flow. Most small companies create spreadsheets as a flexible and cost effective tool to track jobs, tasks, lists and things that are important to manage. As companies grow (more crews, more clients, more managers, etc.) the spreadsheets get longer and more complicated. Summaries are needed for some situations and details for others. Spreadsheets are linked to one another and need to have updates for more and more sources.

At some point the spreadsheet no longer functions well and delays decisions or worse incorrect information is used to make decisions. The effect can be devastating. Large organizations use database applications to manage information collection, reporting and work flow needs. These systems are built to accommodate mutilple users and build protections so that data remains accurate when many people use the system at the same time.

Of course, there is a trade-off. Extra functionality means more money for the system to purchase, train and maintain. The skills needed to maintain it are greater than those for spreadsheets. Of course, it can be a big decision. But all of your business is like this. You buy a back hoe when the size of work demands it. Of course, the costs and skills are different than a team with shovels.

So when is it time to start looking at your systems?

  1. When old spreadsheets no longer update all the pages and your staff is copying information to three different sheets.
  2. When you cannot find the current spreadsheets
  3. When you have one person keying information for three or more staff and the staff have to wait days to get the correct information.
  4. When only one person can tell the boss if the information is accurate or not.
  5. When you are waiting on your Information Technology Team to add a column to a sheet for weeks
  6. When you cringe as the reports are being brought to you
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Winston Churchill’s Wisdom of Ongoing Analysis

Winston Churchill said, “However beautiful the strategy, you should still occasionally look at the results.”   Day to day life typically becomes a routine.  We know what works, what doesn’t and we follow the plan that years of experience has taught us.  Then one day, things come up that we did not expect, and things go wrong.  We have all had those days.  But looking back, had I taken the few moments it would have required to monitor the circumstances as they were unfolding, I could have often prevented the issue altogether.

If your company is like most, you typically have employee reviews, you have audits on your financials, and if regulated, you have inspections run by the agencies that support you.  But, are you looking at the overall health of your company as a part of your routine?  Unless you have a reliable tool, it is a cumbersome task to correlate all of the factors that make up a corporate health assessment.  Some could argue that it is easy, one just needs to monitor their profits.   While profits are a good indicator of today’s health, one should not assume it will be the same story months from now.   Problems can crop up from any facet of the business.   Without routine health checks, things can go awry on the turn of  a dime.  wc quote_edited-1

Because analysis takes so long, most just take the stance that they will deal with it when they get to that bridge instead of doing the due diligence of analysis to find potential downfalls in fiscal performance.

Mr. Churchill was correct.  However, industries like Convenience Stores have a lot of data to deal with and it is all coming to them in different categories and margins.  To run a full perspective evaluation could take weeks, with multiple personnel being involved or, does it?  There are tools to help you with this task. Seek one that offers as many perspectives of analysis that you can get, so you may get more accurate projections for future revenue.   The more dimensions there are in the analysis the easier this task becomes.

Dashboard Vertical drill to supervisor level

Time Analysis

Geographic Analysis

Geographic Analysis

Minute discrepancies in the underlying layers of analysis can snowball into huge losses, but can easily be prevented with proper monitoring. You just have to catch them early on to be able to prevent the avalanche.  It doesn’t have to be hard, it just has to be done.



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