Tuesday, 12 April 2022 12:15

5 Ways to Improve Your Spreadsheets for Your Business Workflow

When a business reaches a certain point in its growth, automating workflow processes pivot from ‘Nice – to – have’ to ‘must – have’.

There appears to be an ongoing business problem: “We don’t have centralised processes and our data is all over the place. At the heart of this issue, you are more than likely to find more than a few spreadsheets floating around.

Below is a quick animation mentioning few challenges with spreadsheets that now most organisations are facing these days.

Spreadsheets problem

When spreadsheets become part of an ongoing process, it’s time for everyone using them – business leaders, engineers, software developers, sales team – to review different options and strategic steps.

Here are 5 ways to improve on spreadsheets for business workflows:

Implement Data Visualisations and Business Intelligence

People loves graphs and pictures to understand better a business situation. Best way to reimagine data visualisation in a self – service business intelligence platform. The Best approach is not to port your existing charts to a new platform, but to rediscover the basics and rebuild the dashboard to meet your business needs.

With the help of API integration or data import, you are able to build your very own Business Intelligence dashboard in Microsoft Power BI.

Migrate to SaaS or No - Code Database

In the animation above, one of the issue is the versioning of the documents. When a single document being passed on couple of times to different person, you would imagine how many times it is being revised or updated. The issue here is to keep track of the versioning and to manage the document state.

By using single database, it is easier for everyone to work on single data without having to track the latest version of the document.

An organisation would need a database to migrate and manage the data. Structured data such as sheets with matrix data can be imported into a managed public cloud database such as Microsoft Azure SQL. Through this platform, it is easier to connect to a common data source for each domain, and the platform also provides complex workflow, machine learning, and reporting functions.

Department Collaboration and Workflow

In the case of department or team uses spreadsheets to manage workflows. Here, the workflow could be the marketing team’s schedule, calendars, production team project tracker, field service team tracking the work, and so on. Right now, the spreadsheets usually store enough data to manage workflows, but there are no settings for tracking and managing processes.

SaaS and no – code tools are focused on enabling a hybrid of workflow and collaboration capabilities. You can take advantage of couple tools such as Asana, Jira, SmartSheet, to mention a few.

Automating Spreadsheets Reporting

If you have an Excel report that has become challenging to produce, or is routinely needed on – demand by users in your organisation, don’t worry: you may not have to transition that report to a more expensive or complicated tool just yet.

Take an advantage from the powerful Power Automate tool. Your team can automate the whole document & reporting process in automated fashion. This tool will lifted most of the burdens of repetitive tasks of data sourcing, collection, aggregation, and formatting.

One example we are taking it from one of our client work: using custom – configured Power Automate, and open – source statistical library, the underlying data for a given report can be pulled or extracted from a wide variety of source systems, including enterprise apps, and the web, and then manipulated or ‘transformed’ before being loaded into a relational database, file bucket, or other common cloud storage destinations. From there, Power Automate can be instructed to process, compile, and / or distribute spreadsheet reports as needed, saving your team valuable hours and ensuring the accuracy and consistency of the resulting spreadsheet files.

Using Custom - Configured Workflow Solution

The last options to improve your spreadsheets reporting performance is to replace it with custom workflow management system. Not only automates workflows in personalised manner, but also increases organizational efficiency.

  • Did the potential client recently won a new deal that depends on one of the company’s products or service?
  • Standardised workflow management model - identifying repetitive processes and bottlenecks then mapping the workflow in an ideal state
  • Multiple task management workflows - use different workflows for different types of jobs all in one tool 
  • Easy integration - custom workflow solution is configured to integrate with your team's specific tasks, data unification with API connections, and making information on multiple spreadsheets more accessible to people
  • Automatic notifications - informing participants over a push notifications or email about new information that needs to be done and saving time they otherwise would have spent plugging in data or writing lengthy emails

There are many alternatives to spreadsheets, but they don’t easily replace the openness and flexibility of using spreadsheets as an app. Most people love the versatility of spreadsheets and the ability to add columns, change data, and create formulas as needed, but migrating data and workflows to other platforms will likely limit these capabilities.

At Metisc, we have different tools to offer for reporting automation such as Microsoft Power BI and Power Automate, or, reporting tools for all organisation type such as Jet Reports and Shareperlight, and, above everything else, Microsoft SharePoint to keep your team focused and productive while on the go.