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Five Reasons Why Excel is Dangerous to Your Firm

If you are an Architecture or Engineering firm and you’re using Microsoft Excel to manage resource planning & forecasting, your firm is in danger. Across our industry, firms big and small place immense trust in their spreadsheets. Is that safe? After all, “we’ve been doing it this way for years.”

1. LACK OF CONTROLA&E firms love to control every aspect of the project – we have project managers, leadership sponsors, and exhaustive documentation. Why then do we manage our businesses with a process and spreadsheet with no centralized controls? Using an Excel spreadsheet to manage resource planning & forecasting means you are giving up control to a file that is emailed around the office, without oversight, and without tracking. And, once manipulation of the data begins with advanced formulas and charting, mistakes are inevitable. Would we manage our projects that way?

2. ONLY AS GOOD AS THE LAST EDITORWhen it comes to finalizing a report for leadership, we need all sorts of information. We need to calculate backlog, gather staffing projections across multiple disciplines, and hassle our project managers to update their plans (many of which have their own spreadsheets). Data is flying in from every angle. Sure, you can see who made the last edits to the spreadsheet. But, how many admins have touched the spreadsheet since your last control check? How many edits are made in each pass?

3. FALSE SENSE OF SECURITYOne of the big issues of using Excel spreadsheets is the false sense of security that everyone has over the accuracy of the spreadsheet. After all, if John created the spreadsheet, it must be right. He’s an Excel wizard (and we gave him that cool hat to show for it at the Holiday party). What we don’t realize is that John had a five other projects in the works and may have rushed through a couple formulas. Are we willing to risk the business on those formulas? On the “last editor” never making a mistake?

4. 88% OF SPREADSHEETS HAVE ERRORS1Some of the scariest stories we’ve heard from firms that are using Excel revolve around errors that exist within the spreadsheets that the firm has been using to make critical business decisions. Studies have shown that 88% of spreadsheets have errors. 88/100. To make matters worse, a majority of errors reported were caused by human error. They were completely avoidable mistakes.

5. EXCEL CHARTS ARE NOT DASHBOARDSOnce we pull data out of the ERP system and start filling in Excel, our information is out of date. We typically hear report creation takes a month, start-to-finish. That means, at best, you are making key strategic decisions a month behind schedule. Even the most die-hard Excel gurus will agree that, while Excel can create powerful charts, it just isn’t the same as having a dashboard with real-time data and graphics.

You already have processes and tools to improve your project delivery and tracking. Now it’s time to escalate your business. Project Analyzer from Planifi is built specifically for A&E firms to drive growth and make better decisions with reliable, real-time data.

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