Spreadsheet strangulation: Break free with case management


Love them or hate them, every business has some form of critical process run or monitored by a spreadsheet.

Whether in HR, Legal, Sales, Finance, Fleet Management, you name it, there will more than likely be a strangulation point between critical legacy systems and one or many spreadsheets. A spreadsheet which has been used to fill in the gaps between business systems or legacy processes. While initially a temporary fix, over the years the spreadsheet has become a key part of the process. And herein lies the problem.

Now don’t get me wrong, give me a spreadsheet to create and I am in heaven.

But, there are questions that you and I need to ask ourselves. Is this the most efficient manner for this data to be retained? Can it be shared effectively throughout the business, with more than one user at any given time? Is it secure? Is it duplicating existing work? And most importantly, is it compliant?

Most often, the answer to all these question is: No.

Generally, attempts to make a spreadsheet do something that it was not designed to do makes for very inefficient use. Spreadsheets are often not very scalable for accessing and manipulating large volumes of data. This frequently reveals itself in poor data management (i.e. inefficient and error-prone), particularly when there is a need to query related data, held as separate sheets in the same (or different) files.

Also, spreadsheets can be corrupted by altering very little of the content, with often no means of verifying changes. Often, there is not an audit process in place and security is a real issue, with no easy way to determine who has accessed, viewed or modified data.

One illustration of inefficiency is data entry, for instance case note tracking. If the same data needs to be used in multiple locations and for more than one report, you are forced to re-enter the same data once for each spreadsheet.

So the arguments against relying on spreadsheets for critical processes are many. To thrive in today’s business environment, data relationships, documents and processes need to reside in a single solution. This allows employees to effectively manage cases and make better business decisions based upon combined knowledge and complete information.

Break free with case management
With a case management approach to solving business problems and a software solution that supports that goal, a 360-degree view of all the information needed to complete the task is at hand. Workers have visibility into the entire case – whether that’s a customer a relationship, a project or an issue.

Rather than toggling between systems or managing scattered spreadsheets, employees use an intuitive solution interface for simple data input, import, delegation and scheduling. Full security controls minimize unauthorized access or unapproved changes, whilst a full audit trail and complete historical record of all actions improves transparency and accountability.

If you like your graphs, then a detailed dashboard view makes it easy to monitor processes and recognize patterns to drive decisions and improvements.

So if you want to eliminate disparate data management methods, make better-informed business decisions and maximize productivity by connecting the right people with the right information at the right time, then loosen your grip on your spreadsheets and explore the joy of case management.

Right then, back to it… =CUMPRINC(A2/12,A3*12,A4,13,24,0). If you don’t know what this means, you don’t live in the world of spreadsheets and should be thankful for that.

Working from Hyland's London office, Colin brings more than 30 years of corporate experience ranging from enterprise content management (ECM) to natural language processing (NLP) for clients ranging from the Lloyds Banking Group to BUPA. Over this period, he has seen many changes in system and solution approaches, some successful and some that should not have seen the light of day. As someone who can remember when legacy systems were mere young kids on the block, you can guarantee he will have a point of view.

Colin Dean

Working from Hyland’s London office, Colin brings more than 30 years of corporate experience ranging from enterprise content management (ECM) to natural language processing (NLP) for clients ranging from the... read more about: Colin Dean