Jan 18 2021 / Document Workflow

Why Excel is Bad

Why Excel is Bad
Maria Kris

Maria Kris

6 Min

Microsoft Excel is one of the most widely used business tools. Its main attraction is the ability to cobble something together quickly – with many firms using it to manage clients, internal workflows, and work schedules. Unfortunately, it’s far from perfect. Spreadsheet errors and reliance on manual input make relying on Excel to run your business a bad idea. 

Some of the largest companies in the world have incurred large losses due to Excel spreadsheet errors. Here are some examples we know about (and there are probably 100x more cases that companies were too embarrassed to talk to the press about): 

  • An Excel copy-and-paste error led to a $24 million loss for TransAlta in 2013.
  • An Excel typo resulted in an $11 million severance error for Kodak in 2005.
  • An Excel templating error made AstraZeneca release confidential information accidentally in 2011.
  • An Excel copy-and-paste error resulted in a $6 billion trading loss for JP Morgan in 2012.
  • And most recently, an Excel file format mistake led to the loss of records of almost 16,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases in the UK’s track and trace program.

Why does this happen? While Excel is simple to use and highly customizable (and practically free), relying on it to run your practice is risky. Here are six reasons why using Excel for practice management is a bad idea.

1. Excel Needs Manual Updating

On its own, Excel is a blank sheet of digital paper. Unless you populate it with information, it doesn’t know anything. And as soon as you input something manually, it becomes outdated as soon as the world outside your spreadsheet changes. You’re stuck in an endless cycle of updating information that immediately becomes obsolete.

problems with excel for business is that it's hard to keep track of changes in excel

Think of it – no one wants to spend hours updating client details on spreadsheets every day or checking workflow progress to see assigned and completed tasks. It’s tedious and bad for business. You could use that time to:

      • Work on business development
      • Build business-client relationships
      • Improve your marketing efforts
      • Improve your business operations and systems

Time wasted manually updating spreadsheets translates to monetary losses due to extended admin hours working on spreadsheets. You can easily solve this problem using an automated practice management app like TaxDome to eliminate the need to rely on manual spreadsheets to update information and manage your workflow

With TaxDome, you can now automate every process you would do during the lifecycle of a tax or accounting job you’re paid for or client onboarding process. Update all info automatically when you create new client accounts, when clients upload documents, and more with ease. 

2. It’s Highly Prone to Human Error

As we discussed above, all information in Excel is updated manually – and humans are just not very good at it. Human error is one of the biggest challenges in using Excel spreadsheets. Even the smallest mistake made when collecting, entering, and analyzing critical data or managing workflow for your accounting firm can have a detrimental impact on your business operations. 

One wrong click, overwriting data, or even an accidental addition or deleting a cell can result in big problems. When working with lots of data, noticing these errors can be challenging, and most users don’t realize the mistakes until it’s too late. You can reduce human error by automating your practice management workflow.

Human error might also cause problems with excel

3. No Automation

Working on spreadsheets means one thing – doing lots of manual, repetitive tasks over and over that can easily be automated. Instead of relying on Excel for your practice management, you can use automated software to get more done:

      • Automatically update client records 24/7
      • Automatically create workflows and jobs on specific dates
      • Automatically assign particular tasks to your team members
      • Automatically send welcome emails, document-request emails, and reminders
      • Automatically generate client records and details into a single profile

Think of how much time you spend chasing clients and following up. Wouldn’t it be great if when you needed something from a client, you actually got what you asked for without having to chase them? TaxDome makes this a reality. Better yet, you can even set up automatic reminders to do the annoying work for you. 

uses of spreadsheets in business includes accounting workflow. However, there's no way to automate it

TaxDome allows each stage could have automations that simplify your routines

They follow up with clients when they haven’t done something you need from them, so you don’t have to. Automating these critical workflow processes saves you valuable time, effort, and resources, making it easier to manage your practice. 

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4. Provides No Visibility Over Client Lifecycle

When using Excel, you’re pretty much limited to seeing only what you open in a particular spreadsheet. You don’t get the whole picture of what’s going on in your workflow and about your clients. In most cases, you might have different sheets for every process. That means you have no visibility over your workflow. 

You need a better way to manage and view client details so you can ensure seamless service delivery. Visibility will help you see:

      • All emails you have sent and received from clients
      • All files you have sent and received from clients
      • All contact details for other people involved with your clients

Without all this information in one place, you lack the visibility you need to complete your work and deliver services more efficiently. TaxDome offers a smart notifications feature – Inbox+, that provides real-time notifications about clients’ and team’s actions, all on a single page. This all-in-one notification center offers the visibility you need end-to-end for your projects.  

TaxDome helps you keep track of your tasks and projects without problems with excel

Inbox+ informs you about all changes occurring in your account and lets you know what status the notifications are in.

5. Limited Collaboration

Collaboration is key to running a  successful practice. If you want to scale beyond working by yourself or with one partner – you need to have visibility over your team members’ delegated tasks and progress made, emails sent to clients, onboarding progress, and overall workflow. Excel offers no collaboration – team members have to work in silos instead of working as one team. 

6. Lack of User Interface (UI)

Many people don’t talk about this, but the truth is, Excel doesn’t come with a user interface for the applications you build in it. It’s simple tо create a basic spreadsheet, but users want more interactive tools with visual elements. When it comes to practice management applications, the user interface (UI) is vital. You and your team will be using it daily. Just like you wouldn’t move in with your family to a camping tent, we wouldn’t recommend building your own business management system in Excel. 

You’ll start seeing issues like reduced app usability, low productivity, and even errors. Negligence in user experience often harms the overall usability of your business tools. Excel’s poor UI might be that ‘unseen’ problem that your team members are struggling with every day.

problems with excel often caused by lack of knowledge

Automate Your Practice Management

Switching from Excel, which you’ve probably used for years, can be daunting. But when you consider the reasons we’ve discussed, you will see that it’s time to adopt an all-in-one integrated solution to manage your tax or accounting practice. TaxDome is an all in one system that was purpose-built for this. 

Ready to get started? Join our live demo

Maria Kris

Maria Kris

Maria is a Marketer at TaxDome. Having been working in both custom software and product development, she knows what clients care about and how to help businesses succeed. Enjoys all sorts of writing. When not writing, she's looking for a new hypothesis to test.

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