How is your organization managing construction projects?
If your answer is Microsoft Excel, you are not the only one. Excel is the most prevalent project management tool of least resistance. However, with the rise of construction project management solutions that provide more accurate data automation, Excel should not be the best choice.
Almost thirty-five years ago, Microsoft launched Excel, and since that, there have likely been millions of spreadsheets already created. How many of those are you responsible for?
The fundamental functions of Excel haven’t changed much in the past decade. It can still handle a massive amount of data, present graphs and figures, and be programmed to execute many various tasks. Still, when you’re running a growing business, it’s time to be more thoughtful and deliberate about the programs you use to manage your projects.
One out of seven people globally— roughly 1.2 billion individuals— rely on Microsoft Office, and Excel is the most frequently used of all. Although it’s very popular, criticisms of Excel are slowly coming to light.
How is Excel harming your company?
In retrospect, Excel was a gamechanger that shook up the world— at one time, that is. Excel was initially released in 1985, and after three decades, the time has come for your business to move forward and look for more progressive alternatives. Like how accounting paper ledgers served their purpose before the emergence of the digital, they are no longer reliable and relevant to modern accountants with easy-to-use software substitutes available in the market. The era of management and tracking with purely Excel in the construction industry is ending— with cloud-based and mobile construction management software stepping in to take its place.
If you’re continuing to rely on Excel templates or spreadsheets for your project management tracking, your project could be experiencing crucial and avoidable inefficiencies. It’s time for your company to get rid of Excel and make the switch to cloud-based construction software to increase your team’s productivity. Below, we’ll explain the pitfalls of having Excel as a part of your company’s tech suite, as well as why you should consider modern construction tools for project management.
1. No One Wants to be the Spreadsheet Keeper
With every team member needing to input updates without creating a local copy, it’s a significant rule in a construction team to elect a person to handle the Excel project files, or so-called the “spreadsheet keeper.”
This way, only one person is solely responsible for gathering status updates and completion updates from everyone on the team and recording information into the spreadsheet.
The result? Every member of the team avoids to take up the responsibility of keeping the spreadsheets. The team’s transparency deteriorates, work relationship suffers, and there is no clarity on the project’s real progress.
2. There is No Such Thing as “Updated” or “Current” Project Status in Excel
With Excel documents, as soon as data is entered and shared with others, it’s out of date. No one in the construction team is updating the project status in real-time. When looking at an Excel spreadsheet, it seems as if all project update and completion dates are entered on the same day.
At best, the team can look back on the project’s Excel spreadsheet to see who was responsible for which task or whether or not they have been updated or completed– but that is about it.
3. Excel is Prone to Human Errors
Mistakes happen, and as humans, we are not perfect. However, when human errors occur in company documentation, they can have monstrous consequences. Chances are if you have an Excel spreadsheet, you have at least one mistake. According to a Carnegie Mellon study, this issue is so typical that approximately 94% of spreadsheets contain errors in the business setting.
One minuscule data entry could end up costing your company millions, and maybe even billions, of dollars in extensive construction projects. A tiny slip of a finger could lead to incorrect quote estimates, underestimate material and labor costs, or create construction schedule confusion. Alternatively, project management software can provide the essential operation of checks and balances that your current Excel spreadsheets cannot ensure. With easy-to-use methods and templates already made for handling construction projects in mind, you don’t have to worry about manual mistakes and focus on more pressing matters on-site.
4. The Excel Usability Gap
Commonly, Excel users can be distinctly divided into two groups: the Excel experts and the rest of the users. The difference between these two parties confirms that Excel has a considerable usability gap. Some users are highly knowledgeable about the program’s functions and can make spreadsheet templates on a fly, while others struggle with simply adding functions that are not basic.
If you’re one of the people who are not that proficient and accustomed to the Microsoft program, you don’t have to feel embarrassed! Excel is indeed a powerful tool, but it is not for everyone. On the other spectrum, the right construction management software to help elevate the usability playing field. With straight to the point and user-friendly interfaces, construction management software makes it easy for all the team to track the project’s progress. With everyone on the same page with the same software, both productivity and technology adaptation will increase in your projects.
5. Lack of Industry Knowledge
Even though it is considered a powerful program, Excel is only a generic tool. The software is not custom-built for construction professionals’ unique needs and depends exclusively on the user to make it work. For a particular technology to help the construction industry, it must recognize what information the builders use. Construction management software, like Pro Crew Schedule, is made by builders, developed specifically with the construction industry in mind.
Even if you can input all the information you need for your project in an Excel spreadsheet if anything goes wrong, who are you going to ask for help? It’s highly doubtful that even the Excel experts and support specialists would provide you with the technical instructions if they don’t know the needs of a construction business. Contrarily, if you have the right software at hand, you will have the proper training and the support team behind it to assist you when you need it the most.
6. The Repetitive Process of Manual Entry
Are you able to count the hours you have spent in manual data entry in Excel? It could even add up to hours a week, depending on your job role in the company. The conventional process of updating a spreadsheet manually opens up to many inconsistencies and problems if you rely on Excel to track your crew, budget, and project as a whole.
The lack of automation from Microsoft Excel can be specifically draining for the people on the construction site. For example, the amount of time it takes to compile documents, such as contracts from various subcontractors, in Excel can take up weeks. However, with the right construction software, you can automate some repetitive tasks with more consistency and a higher level of accuracy. Imagine the time you could save and how much risk can be reduced if you rely on automation processes with minimal effort.
7. No Room for Collaboration
Even though you might have access to a shared team drive with all your basic spreadsheets accessible for multiple individuals in your company, an Excel document is not made for more than one person to use. The platform severely lacks the ability for stakeholders to collaborate and communicate. Even if the team members are diligent with consistently updating every cell, it’s impossible to note the changes in real-time. Moreover, unless you’re strictly saving multiple updated versions of a spreadsheet (another Excel pitfall on its own), users can only see one version and have no reliable reference to new changes.
Furthermore, if you’re on the field and observe something that needs to be noted or changed, how will you make these revisions in your Excel sheet? We’re guessing you will likely wait till you’re back in the office, open your computer, and hope you remember the mental notes you made on site. With cloud-based construction software like Pro Crew Schedule, changes are not only effortless to make in the field, but teams can also be alerted in real-time in changes critical to individual job duties, ensuring that the project moves along efficiently.
8. Excel Is Easy to Hack with its Poor Security
In a typical construction workplace setting, Excel files are saved in computer’s hard drives or company-wide shared digital drives. Even if these drives are password protected or only one person is accessing the files, your documents are still far from secure. Consider how easily Excel documents can be copied and distributed on the web.
Security is a significant concern in a construction company, and with the use of the right software, none of your company’s confidential data will be safe from any external hackers.
Making the Transition to Automated Software
Microsoft Excel can no longer handle the modern complexities of the construction industry. The time has come to transition to more advanced construction tools, and Pro Crew Schedule is the best place to begin.
Is it time to start a conversation? Contact us and discover how we can improve your business with more than getting rid of Excel.