If you have access to Excel or a similar program, then you have access to spreadsheets. This type of software has been used for information organization, risk management, and other data solutions for nearly a generation. Here are the pros and cons of spreadsheets to consider if you’re thinking about using them for your own information management.
What Are the Pros of Spreadsheets?
1. It makes it easy to create instant calculations.
Using equations and coding, you can set cells to calculate data for you in a number of ways. This makes it a lot easier to create totals and tallies that can be used to create metrics, monitor them, or determine other data points that are necessary.
2. They are easy to change.
To create new data, all you need to do is add, delete, or change the data in the cells that are being measured. This allows spreadsheets to quickly adapt to changes that may be occurring within your business or home.
3. It keeps data organized efficiently.
You can keep a large amount of data organized in an orderly way when a spreadsheet is being used. Visual representations can also be included to help understand the data better, including graphs and charts, so that more time can be spent using the data instead of trying to figure it out.
4. Most spreadsheets offer third-party support.
Most spreadsheet files will work with other apps and software options. Microsoft Excel files, for example, can be read in Open Office. You can save an Open Office spreadsheet in an Excel format so it can be read in MS Excel.
5. There are integration options.
Many spreadsheet programs will work with other productivity apps and programs to create dynamic presentations or reports. In Office 365, Excel can work with Word and PowerPoint so that spreadsheets can be used in other data formats for more purposes than data organization and storage.
6. You can create multiple spreadsheets within one file.
If you wanted to keep track of sales receipts, for example, you could create a running record in a spreadsheet for an entire month worth of transactions. You could then put all 12 months of the year into one overall spreadsheet file, letting you tab through individual monthly spreadsheets. This makes it a lot easier to access all of the data that may be needed.
What Are the Cons of Spreadsheets?
1. It takes time to learn the formulas.
Many of the more complicated formulas that a spreadsheet might use can save time from a long-term perspective. It also takes time to learn these formulas and to properly input them into each cell. If immediate results are needed and a user doesn’t know all of the functions of the spreadsheet, then it may not be a useful tool.
2. Calculation errors may not be recognized by the app or software.
Some of the automatic calculation functions that are provided in modern spreadsheet apps and software have no way of checking for human errors. You must manually check each equation in each cell to make sure it has been entered correctly. Assuming the automatic functions are correct can create serious data integrity issues.
3. It takes time to enter data into each cell.
If you must manually enter data into a spreadsheet, then the process can become very time consuming. It may also lead to user boredom, which further inhibits the amount of productivity of the individual inputting the data. Boredom also tends to lead to inattentiveness, which can add to the risk of an error in the formulas or data occurring.
4. Some spreadsheet files may be incompatible.
If you save an Open Office spreadsheet file, it may not be read by Excel or another app or program. There are some spreadsheets which are proprietary in their file extensions and can only be read by the program or app that created them. This can make it difficult for some users to receive the information they need.
5. Spreadsheet programs can sometimes be costly.
If you’re using Open Office for spreadsheets, then there is no cost. That could be considered an advantage. Other apps and programs, however, may be a fairly high charge. Excel is part of the Office 365 suite of products, which means users must pay a monthly subscription fee of $6.99-$14.95 depending on the needs that they have.
The pros and cons of spreadsheets show that it can be an effective way to store data. It relies on the user inputting that data correctly in order to operate efficiently. Consider your options, find the app or software that meets your needs, and manage the negatives so that you can take advantage of all the benefits that spreadsheets can provide today.