Microsoft launched Excel in the mid 1980’s as a simple tool to improve productivity. We all know how easy it is to create our own spreadsheets to help us manage our processes. What we forget is that many of our associates also have their own versions of the same or similar data. This causes complexity and challenges for any organization large or small.
Using spreadsheets in ways they were not designed for creates major problems. One such area is product information management. Unfortunately, organizations that do not have a single source of product information most often rely on spreadsheets, which undermines consistency and reliability.
Here are the top 5 reasons to STOP using spreadsheets to manage product information:
- Error Reduction
- When looking at the individual use of spreadsheets, IBM says, “spreadsheet-only “solutions” are fundamentally error-prone. Whether stemming from users (hitting the wrong key), from logic (choosing or creating an inappropriate formula) or from omission (leaving out a critical model component like a row or column), calculation errors are nearly guaranteed.”
- Ventana Research says most companies have between 5 and 11 data sources or “silos” for product information. Various departments such as Marketing, Sales, R&D, IT, Production, Finance, Regulatory, etc. all manage their slivers of product information. It is extremely difficult and SLOW to synchronize these data silos using spreadsheets. Yet a vast majority of companies today use “spreadsheet magic” to coordinate their product information. Who’s really responsible for the “one version of the truth”?
- Let’s face it. Your Clients need your data sent in specific formats to work within their systems, not yours. The worst answer to this problem is to develop an even more complex spreadsheet or even a customer specific spreadsheet …ugh!
- As product information changes, spreadsheets don’t automatically sync and require some level of manual effort to coordinate the changes. The result is reduced productivity and frustration for your team.
- How do you truly know what changes have been made to your product information spreadsheets? What if someone made an error keying or copying some data into the spreadsheet? Spreadsheets have very elementary audit history capabilities.
- Product information is needed by many channels to help sell your product. Whether it’s your customers, your website, your e-commerce system, your configurator system, etc., using spreadsheets is very difficult to distribute data to these various channels without creating inefficiency.
Please STOP using spreadsheets for managing product information. You’ll love the results.