It’s Easy To Move Beyond Spreadsheets and Improve Operational Decisions

All you have to do is survive the uprising that results when you ban spreadsheets from the organization.

Industry Week recently published a very nicely thought out and written piece from SAP on how to move beyond spreadsheets to improve operational decisions using business intelligence that sounds wonderful in theory but doesn’t work in practice. Why not? Because the first thing a user does when they get a new system is dump the data to a spreadsheet they can play with because

  1. they are used to the spreadsheet environment and
  2. the vast majority of BI tools don’t have the capabilities the average analyst needs to do the analysis she needs to do because they all work off one version of the data that cannot be altered in any way.

Thus, an average BI system only worsens the problem as users create and share more and more spreadsheets in an effort to get around the limitations of yet another system with yet another version of the truth. There are only two ways to move beyond spreadsheets. They are:

  1. Ban Spreadsheets
    and force your users to work within the limitations of the BI tool or
  2. Adopt a Real Analysis Tool that Supports a Spreadsheet Interface
    and allows your users to continue to use the interface they are comfortable with in a productive, value-creating, manner

Spreadsheets are not going to go away just because you’ve introduced yet another system. It’s delusional to think otherwise. Your only choices are to ban them or embrace them in a manner that is actually helpful.