Summary: Yes, spreadsheets are cheap and easy to use – making them attractive for smaller businesses with fewer assets to manage. But errors occur and security is lackadaisical, which prompts business owners to look elsewhere for their asset management needs; Asset Management Software (AMS). When compared to spreadsheets, AMS offers greater usability, mobility, accuracy, and organisation – and the transition from spreadsheets to software is easier than one might think.
There are two main reasons why businesses use spreadsheets to manage their assets;
- They’re cheap
- Everyone knows how to use them
This allows businesses to save money on their data management efforts and save time on training new starters.
But, there’s a reason Forbes labelled Microsoft’s Excel the most dangerous software on the planet. Spreadsheets are inaccurate, error-prone, and can be easily duplicated without knowledge – all of which are costly in both time and money.
A Market Watch study found wrong formulas, misaligned rows, and duplicate cells were just a handful of inaccuracies accounting for the 88% of errors found in all spreadsheets.
So, the question is; can Asset Management Software replace spreadsheets?
The short answer; Yes – and very easily, too.
Improve Your Asset Management By Swapping Spreadsheets for Software
How Asset Management Spreadsheets Compare With Software
For businesses just starting out, spreadsheets are a good tool to have. The same goes for companies with less than 10 users or with fewer than 100 manageable assets.
But, for those planning to grow and scale, spreadsheets should be viewed as more of a stepping stone rather than a long-term solution.
When the time comes to evolve from using spreadsheets, look no further than implementing an asset management system. A proactive asset management solution can take common spreadsheet procedures and enhance them. Here’re just a few examples:
|Tracking Assets||Manually listing an item’s most recent and new locations||Automated location data updates with asset tracking tags and sensors|
|Inputting Asset Data||Updating the master file at the office, making sure no duplicate files are saved||Quickly input data and images from mobile devices that automatically updates all saved versions|
|Accessing Asset Data||Access data from the master file only, typically on an office desktop computer||Access data from anywhere at any time on mobile and desktop devices|
|Reporting||Generating total sums manually and through specialised formulas||Automated calculations with easy export options for further data analysis|
|Reporting||Server threshold levels can mean large reports may take time to run||Elastic capabilities of cloud servers mean faster runtime|
How Easy Is It To Move Away from Using Asset Management Spreadsheets?
The process of switching from spreadsheets to software is both simple and unintrusive. It may appear like a time-consuming and delicate process, but transferring all existing data from spreadsheets to an asset management system is an easy procedure.
In fact, it’s so painless that it can be done in a matter of minutes, depending on how much data you have to transfer. The entire procedure of implementing software can even be completed overnight and outside of working hours.
Once a spreadsheet’s data has been exported, usually into common file formats such as CSV and XLS, the software vendor will make it as clear as possible how to upload it into your new system.
In some cases, at an extra charge, vendors offer to transfer a business’s data for them to minimise any potential risks.
The Benefits of Using Software Instead of Spreadsheets
A Single Place for Data
Say goodbye to working from multiple spreadsheets and duplicate files. Asset Management Software acts as one centralised system for your asset data. That includes asset type, purchase date, asset maintenance history, and real-time location information all in one place.
Better Team Collaboration
For teams of 10 sharing one spreadsheet, errors are plentiful. One common error is when multiple users try to update the master file at once. Cloud-based AMS tools eradicate this by enabling those users who have access to input data at the same time as others. This not only makes sure data isn’t over-written, but it also provides a detailed history of the changes made. Allowing users to see who updated what and when.
As cloud-based software is often used in the form of a mobile and desktop application, users can only access a system with a permitted login. This ensures data is secure within a system and is only accessed by those who have been given permission.
A Visible Audit Trail
When it comes to asset management, data is king. Software ensures data back-ups are regular, meaning there is a definitive trail of when a cell was edited or updated and by whom. Whereas with spreadsheets, when information is missing or has been removed, you cannot tell what data was in the cell before it was changed.
Spreadsheets have their limitations when it comes to accessibility. Instead of heading back to the office to access the master file, users with permission can access asset registers, inventory data, and other asset information on their mobile devices from anywhere at any time by logging in to the system’s app.
2 Clear Signs Your Spreadsheets Aren’t Working
The benefits of using Asset Management Software instead of spreadsheets are obvious. But, just in case you’re still on the fence about making the switch, here’re two clear signs that it’s the right time to do so:
1. An Increase In Errors
When using spreadsheets, data input is entirely manual. This allows errors to arise, such as:
- Wrong formulas
- Missing cells
Although some errors are big enough to notice straight away, others can go astray and accumulate. This leads to inaccurate financial reports, wrong maintenance inspection data, and so on.
2. More Time Being Wasted
As your business grows, so does the number of assets and asset data. Collecting, monitoring, and analysing this data becomes more complex. As spreadsheets require manual interaction, inputting, collecting, and verifying large amounts of data becomes time-consuming for employees.
How to Switch From Spreadsheets to Asset Management Software
1. Find the Right Software
The first step in your transition from spreadsheets to Asset Management Software is making sure you pick the right software. As well as costs, vendor experience, and implementation time, you should consider:
- Does the software match your requirements?
- Is it easy to use or does it require training?
- What features does it offer?
- Does it work with a mobile app
- Can it be used by multiple teams (finance, maintenance, sales, and inventory)?
2. Plan for Implementation
Developing an implementation plan is important for a clear and concise switch from spreadsheets to software. A good plan means all stakeholders will be on-board with deployment milestones. An implementation plan will highlight:
- The best time (hour, day, week, or month) to switch
- How long the implementation will take
- The personnel involved/needed
- What risks are involved (delays etc.)
3. Identify Your Data Set
Before transferring the data stored in your spreadsheets, go through each data set and see what is needed and what isn’t. Ideally, you don’t want to transfer outdated or irrelevant data into your shiny new software. When going through your data, look out for:
- Duplicate data
- Blank cells
- Calculation errors
- Ghost assets
Once your data is clean, ensure that formats such as dates and text are supported in the new system too.
4. Determine Employee Training
Whereas spreadsheets are second-nature for most employees, your Asset Management Software might require a few hours or days of training. A vendor can even supply employees with training guides and videos to move things along.
Although training could affect production for the day, it will benefit you and your team in the long term.
5. Stay In Contact With the Support Team
If your software vendor supplies a dedicated support team, be sure to use them. Keeping in contact with a member of the system’s support staff ensures you have an experienced person on hand just in case any challenges occur when transferring data.
Key Factors to Consider Before Switching to Software
Essentially, spreadsheets are free to use. But what are they costing you in errors and wasted time? Asset Management Software will typically incur monthly costs starting from £10 a month/per user to £100 a month/per user. Be sure to factor in both short-term and long-term costs of using spreadsheets versus using software.
The most important part of choosing Asset Management Software is to be aligned with what the product and vendor are offering. When searching the market for a system to supersede your spreadsheets, be sure to have a checklist to help see:
A vendor’s field of expertise (does it match your field?)
Real customer reviews and testimonials
The level of support a vendor offers
Time to Deploy
How long will the transition from spreadsheets to software take? Will it be overnight, 2 days, or even a week? Typically, deployment time for businesses with a small subset of asset data shouldn’t take long. But it’s always important to keep in mind how long systems will be down.
If deployment will take longer than anticipated, you can essentially run both systems side-by-side until the software is fully operational.