Excel Spreadsheets recognized to be “Legacy Software” by sophisticated Project Management Organizations
Microsoft Excel was first pioneered in 1987 and has changed the way construction project managers worldwide analyze critical data to make informed decisions. While previous data analysis methods existed before this time, Excel was user-friendly and allowed any individual to forecast multiple factors affecting cost without having to undertake a university degree or IT course.
As time has progressed, so has the computational capabilities of computers, providing organizations the ability to run more accurate and reliable forecasts with Project Management and ERP solutions to manage financial operations like never before. In recent years, many project delivery organizations have moved away from Excel towards more comprehensive and robust data management solutions due to the recognized limitations of relying on Excel.
Here is why utility and construction industry project managers are moving away from Excel:
Lack of Integration
Data is being captured on many platforms and used by various silos in a large organization, however Excel lacks integration functionality, absent human intervention, which hinders the ability to make timely, informed decisions pro-actively. For instance, cost data can be managed through an ordering system such as Maximo, and cost performance can be measured through accounting software such as SAP. While data is being captured and stored in various systems, it’s critical that project managers make decisions based on the most current available data to provide timely insights.
While Excel is easy for users to make cell references across sheets within a file and external Excel documents, it lacks the ability to extract data in the back end from sources like Oracle Primavera Unifier, Salesforce, and other management solutions. These limited capabilities burden every business function to perform their data syncing from Excel requiring manual and oft-times tedious input into their other software.
While middleware solutions can be purchased to sync data between two silos, it can be hard to manage each function of the business and internal software. The process of employing point solutions with Excel is extremely costly and time consuming to every large organization therefore a better solution is to integrate everything into one system for analysis and use innovative software such as advanced CURA™ Forecasting.
Difficulty To Understand Data
Modeling a variety of cost data requires complicated Excel functions that tends to be very long and use various symbols to generate meaningful results. By using complicated functions within an Excel spreadsheet, there are limitations on users allowed to edit and understand how the data is being used. This lack of understanding about how the function is working, limits the ability of project managers to assess if the function is calculating accurately with respect to their intended purpose. As a result, project managers are moving to more comprehensive and user-friendly software to easily analyze data and review insights.
Another issue with Excel, forcing project managers to move away from the platform, is the process of viewing a function within a window. Users are given a very limited view of the function and cell with content and data. With the limited ability to see an entire function when editing, project managers lack the in-depth understanding required to model data, rendering their insights invalid. Solutions such as CURA™ Forecasting have attracted project managers using Excel to a new accurate and time-effective solution that eases access and reduces complicated editing and calculations.
The array of data being stored and analyzed is now changing in ways that cannot be understood by a legacy system. A new set of externalities influence data, which requires an updated system to adequately measure and understand the data. This new and dynamic changing of the macro-environment is what has forced many project managers to employ solutions that make calculations in a more comprehensive manner.
While Excel is a user-friendly platform, calculations can only be done through conditional rules, with no intelligent automation to calculate convoluted problems. As a result, data from the modern age that is being processed by a legacy-system, will only produce ‘legacy’ outputs. It’s these lacking computational abilities that has led to project managers moving away from Excel and to more modern solutions.
Flexibility and change have become the two biggest words in recent years. Organizations that have been able to adapt and be flexible in their operations are those that have succeeded. Excel spreadsheet files can commonly be referred to as a ‘hard-file’, meaning they are a physical file that cannot be accessed by multiple people at once, and is only stored in a singular location. Cross-team collaboration and dynamic working environments require project managers to access their forecasts anywhere, anytime. While project managers have resorted to moving Excel spreadsheets to the cloud, files are not always saved, and cannot be accessed by multiple people at once while providing up-to-date information to everyone.
For this reason, project managers have been moving to web-based solutions to make real-time adjustments to data, and allow multiple users to see, edit, and manage forecasts simultaneously.
While Excel spreadsheets play a significant role in modernizing data analysis and making forecasting more accessible to all employees, the computational abilities of the software are now holding back organizations from growing. Solutions such as advanced CURA™ Forecasting are becoming the choice amongst many of the country’s largest construction and utility companies, as the value of accurate insights become increasingly important to fuel growth. To learn more about innovative solutions to help your organization grow this year, speak to our knowledgeable and experienced consultants at Foresee Consulting.