Spreadsheets are putting your construction projects at risk

Written by LetsBuild

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For construction companies, most use spreadsheets to manage time, cost, resources, and quality of a project. Spreadsheets are great for data analysis. However, they’re not when it comes to managing projects because the processes surrounding construction project management are too complex to be nailed down in a few spreadsheet cells.

When businesses have to deal with data, the norm across all industries is to turn to Microsoft Excel or other spreadsheet programs. In fact, 1 in 7 people use Microsoft Office — that’s 1.2 billion people relying on the bundled “productivity” software. But, over the past few years, there’s been a wave of criticism that’s hitting Microsoft Excel. Forbes said that Excel is the “most dangerous software on the planet” while Fortune remarked that Excel is “ruining the world”.

Project management is critical to both your company’s success and your client’s success and you wouldn’t want to leave that to spreadsheets that will put your construction projects at risk.

Spreadsheets have no specialised features

Managing your construction project with Excel or any other spreadsheet lacks the features that allow you to manage and update the daily changes and challenges of work progress. Sure, it’s fun to create and color your cells that represent certain data but when the project starts moving, it is no longer fun to update those colored cells — you will need a huge overhead to change them manually. If a team member gets sick, it’s not fun and easy to go through all the various tabs to find out who can cover for him.

Spreadsheets don’t give a single view of your work

When using spreadsheets, you don’t get a complete view of all the work that’s happening. You click between tabs and sheets to see all your different data. Linking these spreadsheets makes everything even more complex. For example, if a single formula has an error, the error trickles down to 9 other formulas.

Spreadsheets present no professional communication with clients

No matter how much you customise the look by adding a logo and modifying the font, a spreadsheet will always lack the corporate appearance and will always look unprofessional when shared with a client.

Spreadsheets waste lots of time and effort

Spreadsheets make collaboration difficult. A research found out that in one global company, a group of its employees emailed around 100 spreadsheets to each other on a daily basis. Additionally, spreadsheets need manual labor to check and build the database. To check the status of a task, you would need a formula. That’s a lot of time and effort added to the more important tasks.

Spreadsheets yield inaccurate calculations

Excel, the program alone, is inarguably a powerful and useful tool. But the problem is the user, even the most expert of computer users commits mistakes and Excel and other spreadsheet programs are not designed to be error-free. A University of Hawaii research showed that nearly 90% of spreadsheets contain serious errors with a 1.79% chance for users to make an error per cell. Seven different studies were reviewed, which revealed that 88% of spreadsheets have problems. For a small business, this is a huge risk.

Spreadsheets do not protect data

Spreadsheet project management puts data at risk all the time. It’s pretty easy to accidentally delete a cell or a column and lose the data you need to carry on with a task or to bill a client. The commonly used data security feature in spreadsheets is cell protection, which is only used 30% of the time.

Spreadsheets lead you to bad decisions

Spreadsheets are one of a construction business’ everyday tools, which makes them pose a huge risk for your company. The most common issue with spreadsheets is the they tend to be interpreted incorrectly, according to the European Spreadsheet Risks Interest Group (EUSPRIG).

According to the researchers, when problems get translated into spreadsheets, the decision makers put too much belief in the spreadsheet data regardless of evidences of errors or incorrectness. Even when they are wrong, the project’s decision makers still believe what the spreadsheets say, which then leads to project delays, cost overruns and poor quality.

Related article: Everyone’s Pocket Guide to Modern Construction Management

Goodbye spreadsheets, hello construction management software

If you’ve already experienced all of the above and you’re just needing validation to completely ditch Excel or your current spreadsheet program, then congratulations! You can now say goodbye to your spreadsheets.

Time to say hello to specialised construction project management tools. These modern construction tech tools are intuitive and can work seamlessly with your construction processes the moment you create an account. Plus, you can integrate it with all the other construction apps or software you’re using.

A construction management software can address all the seven spreadsheet problems that put your projects at risk.

  1. A construction management software has specialised features that allow you to manage simple and complex projects without having to manually create or reallocate tasks and data.
  2. A construction management software gives you an overview of your project’s progress and your team’s tasks — this allows complete transparency and tracking that you can even see possible conflicts before they even arise.
  3. A construction management software allows you endless possibilities to create and generate professional looking reports and communication documents. Additionally, they’re faster to generate without worrying about the format.
  4. The key feature of a construction management software is the ability to centralise your data easily with one version of the truth, which can be shared with your team members. You can collaborate anytime and anywhere without the need to put in more time and effort for maintaining spreadsheet formulas after work.
  5. Construction management software are built around project management and the changing and complicated requirements. Whether you are tracking time and productivity or handling risk calculations, the information that you have is always the data you put in, error-free!
  6. Modern construction management tools always have built-in security. Your data is always backed up in the cloud — it completely removes the risk of someone leaving confidential data on a flash drive somewhere or someone accidentally moving data into a different directory. You also have access rights management that allows you to give specific people specific access to do their jobs without the risk of them accidentally deleting crucial project details.
  7. With construction management software, your decisions are always based on updated data. The decisions you make are based on what you see on your phone or tablet which impacts your productivity and delivery profoundly.

For further reading, you might want to see our tips in choosing the perfect construction management software for your team.

Spreadsheets have their place in a business but definitely not in project management. Do not put your construction projects at risk by depending on them. Shifting to modern construction management apps is your choice. If you’re considering this change for you, your team, and your clients, we offer free customised coaching sessions.