It is crucial for project managers to effectively manage cost, resources, time and quality for successful completion of projects.
Various processes associated with these factors can be critical for your success as well as the client’s success.
This is why spreadsheets, specifically Excel, are not a good tool for managing projects.
Regardless of your project management approach, to successfully complete a project requires managers to focus on various information strands simultaneously. Therefore, excel is simply not the right tool for project management.
Reasons Why Teams Shouldn’t Use Excel For Project Planning
While Excel is a good tool which can aid users in data visualisation, spreadsheet creation and calculations, applying this to project management or project scheduling can prove to be detrimental to the overall project.
Below are some of the reasons why Excel, known as the most dangerous software, is not the right tool for project planning.
#1]. Lack of Special Project Planning Features
Project management in excel lacks many special features or tools that allow you to manage daily activities in projects efficiently. For example, adding a new requirement in Excel means that you have to update the entire sheet from top to bottom.
Similarly, it’s not easy to find a substitute if a team member unexpectedly takes a day off. This means you will have to consult different files and tabs to find a substitute.
While many project managers still believe that specialised project planning software can be hard to learn, this is simply not true. Modern planning tools nowadays are highly intuitive and can be fully integrated with your project needs.
With specialised planning software such as this online team planner, you do not have to struggle to reallocate tasks or build a plan manually. They offer features such as drag and drop, which can be used to plan efficiently and prevent unnecessary mistakes.
#2]. No single Overview of Work
With spreadsheets, it is hard to get a complete overview of all the work. In Excel, there are different billing spreadsheets, plans and timesheets.
Even the option to link different spreadsheets can create unnecessary problems in project planning. Project planning software offers various features such as online planning boards that combat this common Excel problem.
The software offers an easy to understand visual representation of the various project activities with easy drag and drop features for editing. You can get multiple views at the same time, which will save you from having to browse through various tabs or spreadsheets.
#3]. Lack of Automatic Communication
Team planing software such as online team planners have features which allow users to instantly communicate the project plan, and changes through automated calendars and mobile applications.
A recent study by F1F9, a financial modelling firm, found that project managers have to create multiple spreadsheets in Excel for different contingencies. This can be time-consuming and inefficient, whereas online project planning software has features which allow you to centralise data. You can also share information and collaborate with other employees instantly.
If a team isn’t working together correctly, the project is unlikely to miss completion date. This is why collaboration is essential in business. Teams don’t have to be constantly communicating with one another, but they should be able to see what everyone is working on and how tasks are coming along. This simply isn’t possible when using Excel.
#4]. Inefficient Project Updates
Excel spreadsheets are not effective for project updates. Manually updating spreadsheets can be inefficient and time-consuming, and most importantly can create confusion among team members which will lead to mistakes that could have easily been avoided.
Specialised project management software and online team planning programs offer automated updates, easy access and increased transparency to all members, thereby reducing any chances of errors.
#5]. Increased Risk of Errors
Spreadsheets, while great for various calculations can also be riddled with errors. Mistakes in calculations can lead to various problems such as cost and time overruns, thereby endangering the entire project.
With online project management tools, you do not have to deal with complicated calculations or track productivity/time manually – team planners are built to do the job for you by automatically tracking time and team productivity as well as complex calculations.
#6]. Dependency on Incorrect Information
According to the European Spreadsheet Risks Interest Group (EUSPRIG), spreadsheets often contain incorrect data. If this data is used for decision-making, it can lead to wrong decisions which in turn can significantly impact the success of a project.
You also don’t want to report incorrect data to your clients. If you give them false information, it could cause problems on their end and it will also negatively impact your reputation.
A business that makes mistakes like this will not be seen as professional and you could lose clients and prospects. Hence, professional team planning tools provide tried and tested solutions, which do not leave a lot of room for errors.
Excel has many excellent features such as Pivot tables for easy sorting and counting of data. However, it is important to note that spreadsheets were not built for resource management or scheduling, and