I can appreciate that Excel or rather spreadsheets are popular.  They offer some amazing capabilities packaged in a useable (mostly) application.  There are however several issues with using spreadsheets for some of the more serious business problems.

In this series of blogs I will attempt to explore spreadsheets and some of the shortfalls companies experience when using spreadsheets on business solutions.  This is of course based on my experience in my business.  We have an equipment tracking add-on to Salesforce called ELTON (Equipment Location Tracking ONline).  The most common application we replace? Excel.Spreadsheet

Today’s topic is automation or workflow or notifications.  All of these processes are kind of related and all very difficult if not impossible to do in a spreadsheet.  In our world we see all three, let me give you an example that all our customers benefit from.  Warranty expiry dates are important to track when you are tracking equipment.  If you have notice prior to a warranty expiring, you have cost saving choices you can make before it is too late.  You may choose to purchase a service contract or extended warranty.  You may be able to pool this item into an existing service agreement.  In most cases you need to know before the date passes.

This is our first downfall to a spreadsheet.  When a date in a cell inside a spreadsheet passes, the spreadsheet does not send anyone an email.  Robust business systems will allow you to setup tickler style events that run on or before important event.  Setting a threshold that allows you to pro-actively plan and execute a business decision in a timely manner.

We are all too busy to have to rely on our memories for these types of events.  We need alerts that tell us when we need to act.  Spreadsheets are great for doing calculations, but can’t really help us when date based events are going to happen.