It’s time to say ‘R.I.P’ to managing staff with spreadsheets

Oct 11, 2017

Spreadsheets. Accountants worship them and the wider organisation seems to think they are the answer to everything; particularly when trying to organise data from different business units with different criteria.

However, not only are they error prone, but if they contain a complex or unique formula that is only understood by the creator and subsequently lost once it is shared or distributed, where does this leave the business?


Maintenance alone takes up precious time that could be dedicated to more pressing or strategic requirements, like analysing the data and advising your teams on how to react to it.

But probably the biggest issue is the multiple versions of the “truth” that propagate with different versions in circulation. How can you advise on the correct decision without having the data in a single place?

Nowhere is this more evident than when managing the biggest cost of a business… your staff. So, let’s look at the challenges from a Workforce Management (WFM) perspective using a staff scheduling platform:

Challenge 1: Errors
Data entered inaccurately or errors in the formula, is a potentially huge issue. If figures cannot be taken on trust – every cell will have to be manually checked to make sure the figures are correct and the formula is appropriate.

Challenge 2: Customisation
With multiple documents being created by different departments, it’s too easy for users to edit and customise spreadsheets depending on their preferences. What starts out as a uniform set of figures from Finance, explodes into a wide ranging and disruptive set of different documents all needing to be reconciled back into one master sheet for budget or forecast.

Challenge 3: Saved and secure?
Easy to rename, resave and the never-ending threat of deletion with multiple users saving their own respective versions; it’s difficult to keep track of which version has the most accurate or up to date information. With GDPR just around the corner, there are the new data security implications of employees being able to walk around with confidential budget and forecast data on laptops, phones and USB keys.

Challenge 4: Spreadsheet Blindness
Non-committed budget holders can submit late, inaccurate or incomplete data, impacting the ability to drive the business forward based on quality forecast data. In volatile times, waiting for (potentially inaccurate) re-forecasts to come through from every business unit also means the business can’t react quickly to changing conditions. For Finance, this can mean long, stressful hours spent consolidating data and checking and then rechecking for errors.

With so many users comfortable and familiar with them, it is essential that the alternative retains the user-friendly elements, so the whole process can be simplified. It’s important to be able to flexibly plan, budget and forecast, without the headache of gathering, consolidating and checking individual spreadsheets.

ShopWorks WFM cloud-based technology offers so much varied functionality, allowing you to choose the right integrated and streamlined planning and obtain the following:

  • Reliability – Collate and deliver accurate, error-free data and insight from all lines of the operation
  • Visibility – Work collaboratively on a centralised system with high visibility into all business data, identify alternative solutions for the changing business conditions
  • Vision – Accurate data makes for accurate and robust forecasts
  • Agility – Alterdirection or forecasts coherently and inclusively as business or market conditions change
  • Scalability – Reach all budget holders and other stakeholders instantly and with reliably accurate data

Shopworks customers have managed to kill off the spreadsheet as a tool for planning and managing staff scheduling and time and attendance. And as a result they have dramatically improved the efficiency of their operations.


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