At key moments in life, we need a trusted friend to boldly and with the best of intentions take us aside, and give us an unpleasant — or sometimes just ugly — dose of truth. And if you’re an executive in an enterprise that uses spreadsheets as a project management “tool,” then allow us to be the friend you need by passing along a message that your workforce and customers urgently want you to heed: PLEASE STOP.
It’s not that your spreadsheets should be obliterated from the business landscape. They have their function. However, enterprise-grade project management has never been, is not now, and never will be part of their purpose — and belief to the contrary has typically been a matter of default rather than design. That is, project teams use spreadsheets because they’re available; not because they’re appropriate. Here are the seven reasons why:
- Lack of Visibility: spreadsheets don’t provide teams with an accurate, up-to-the-moment picture of what’s really going on. As such, responding to in real-time and making immediate adjustments to scope, budget, schedules and resources isn’t an option.
- Anti-Collaborative: spreadsheets automatically put things in static files, which makes sharing resources, brainstorming strategies, and aligning communications an uphill struggle instead of a streamlined process.
- Governance Woes: with spreadsheets there is no way to effectively and efficiently manage intake, approvals, phase gate deliverables or tracking. Governance woes aren’t just likely, but guaranteed.
- Excessive Administrative Burden: manually updating spreadsheets is tedious, time consuming and error-filled. There’s no way automate workflows and create repeatable processes.
- Lack of Context: team members typically need to consult emails and other documents to put spreadsheet data in context. However, spreadsheets don’t integrate with other information tools, which means that people waste time searching for emails and files, or they draw the wrong conclusions and make regrettable decisions.
- No Audit Trail: spreadsheet don’t create an audit trail, which means that teams can’t capture what worked and should be repeated in the future — and just as importantly, what didn’t work and should be avoided going forward. It also takes new hire much longer than necessary to get up-to-speed.
- No Portfolio Management: enterprises need to keep track of multi-year cross-functional initiatives, and prioritize them based on various factors such as project size, score, budget, ROI and so on. This level of portfolio management isn’t possible with spreadsheets, which means that critical decisions with far-reaching, organization-wide implications are often based flawed data.
Chaos & Complexity are Standard
Spreadsheets can be suitable (or at least, tolerable) for very basic projects with simple tasks, few resources, small budgets and little risk. But when the scene shifts to an enterprise setting — which is characterized by several projects running concurrently, sub-projects, multiple dependencies, remote workers and so on — spreadsheets unleash complexity and chaos. They always have, and they always will.
As a friend, we felt that it was our duty to let you know what’s really going on behind-the-scenes, and why some — or possibly many — projects in your portfolio are failing to reach the finish line on time, in budget, and with all business objectives completed. It’s not a question of effort: it’s a matter of tools. Or rather, lack of tools.
Now for Some Good News!
Fortunately, equipping your workforce a legitimate enterprise-grade project management solution like Planview AdaptiveWork will lead to rapid and measurable performance improvements driven by: full 360-degree visibility, customized governance and reporting, social collaboration, integration with other information sources, efficient process and workflow automation, customized views, trend snapshots and real-time resource management.
In other words, instead of struggling with chaos and complexity, your portfolio, projects and people will be on-track for sustained success. Now you know the (ugly) truth about spreadsheets. And as the saying goes: the truth shall set you free!
Speaking of Free…
Experience a fully-fledged free trial of Planview AdaptiveWork’s award-winning portfolio and project management solution in your enterprise for 30 days. Start here.