Why Spreadsheet Are the Worst Tool You Can Use for Managing Construction Projects
Why Spreadsheet Are the Worst Tool You Can Use for Managing Construction Projects

Why Spreadsheet Are the Worst Tool You Can Use for Managing Construction Projects


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Spreadsheets are a household tool for any industry, and the construction industry is not an exemption to that. For businesses where keeping records and analyzing data are critical, tools are a must in order to run their companies efficiently. The construction industry has been reliant on spreadsheets for generations. Over 70% of construction firms use spreadsheets for estimates and finance, and over 45% still use spreadsheets as their primary tool for project management.

Managing construction projects involves supervision and tracking time, cost, inventory, workforce, and many more. It is true that spreadsheets have their place, but it has no place in construction project management.

Spreadsheets are Not Made for Construction Professionals


People who work in a fast-paced environment such as construction need tools that work for them, not make them work. Truthfully speaking, spreadsheets aren’t built with the construction industry in mind. They’re mainly designed to offer general functionalities and features that anyone on the fly can adopt. Think of it this way, a high school student working on a math project uses the same program as your professional business.

Sure, Microsoft Excel, Google Sheets, and Apple Numbers can be personalized to some extent. But nothing beats the functions and features of custom-designed software for a particular industry. The backend customer support can’t be uneducated either. The support teams behind Excel know the basics of all business, but construction? We highly doubt that.

For construction-specific concerns, you need a platform that’s built around your industry and only your expertise. With construction management software, each feature is tailored for your industry’s unique challenges. Tools, features, and applications are meant to boost productivity and enhance efficiency. It would give you everything you wish your old spreadsheets could do and more.

81% of Companies Across Different Industries Use Spreadsheets


The popularity of spreadsheets in the early 1980s meant a significant transformation in how business data across various industries is collected, stored, organized, analyzed, and presented.

Seemingly overnight, there was no need to use physical papers. Everything could be collected in little cells that were more understandable, flexible, and automatically perform useful calculations. In those times, it had almost felt like an impossible coming to the flesh.

Ever since this rise, spreadsheets have become the priority choice when it comes to crunching data in many businesses. Spreadsheets are easy to use to offer digital flexibility, and even inexperienced users can use them as a training ground to experiment with their collected data.

However, the business scene is also changing much faster than anticipated. The volume of data entered into spreadsheets increases, and they are becoming more complex as structures get more complicated.

Even though many companies use spreadsheets for management, the spreadsheet functionalities and features are not designed for project management for construction. The possibilities are now enforcing significant limitations on their usage. Still, spreadsheets are so hard-wired into the business processes that they continue to be used even if they are challenging to manage and highly prone to error.

The probability of an Error is 94%


It’s not surprising to know that spreadsheets are one of the most commonly used types of software out there. According to Microsoft, just Excel solely has 750 million users, and there are other software solutions that act as substitutes in the market, such as Google Sheets or Apple Numbers.

Those outstanding figures just show how spreadsheets have become a standard for data collection and analysis by a wide array of businesses of all sizes, municipalities, and even government organizations. Knowing this, it is easy to imagine the drastic impact errors in spreadsheets can do. 

Unfortunately, these errors are more common than you realize. Not an assumption, just a fact- there has been actual scientific research and papers was published on the subject. The errors were categorized in many ways, from wrong formulas, 

double entries, hard-coded constraints, corrupted links, forgotten rows, and many more. Again, the numbers reflected on the spreadsheet don’t reflect reality.

High fines, millions of dollars lost and disrupted client’s confidence are just some of the consequences of forgetting, plus signs of additional zero in manually copied data.

Spreadsheets Can Take Up to 50% of Work Time


The time investment in making spreadsheets is substantial. Each sheet needs to be built from scratch and updated regularly to stay on top of the construction project. This takes manual labor and is not the type that moves a project along.

Ask anyone you know, and nobody wants to make decisions and predictions based on inaccurate data. One proven way to minimize errors is by introducing guidelines and policies on managing and creating spreadsheets.

Unfortunately, you can’t get that for free. But what’s the price? Your crew’s precious time- an essential resource in the construction industry. According to a study conducted by Tuck School of Business in connection with the Spreadsheet Engineering Research Project, it was found that the majority of users consume up to 50% of their time dealing with spreadsheets.

Unless the crew’s job belongs to data analysis alone, that number is really alarming.

Data Security Doesn’t Exist in Spreadsheets


Data security is practically nonexistent in spreadsheets. You know how easy it is to delete a data cell or column carelessly. It’s way too easy. You can already forget trying to recover lost data, and starting again from the ground up is just about the only option. 

How to Slowly Replace Spreadsheet as Your Project Management Tool?

It’s clear that spreadsheets can cause serious problems to your company. Even if the data is, by miracle, entered correctly and there are no manual errors, it’s easy for the entered data to be misinterpreted. Decision-makers in construction projects tend to rely heavily on spreadsheet information. A small error or misinterpretation could lead to major timeline delays, poor quality of output, and cost overruns.

Now that you understand the risks, the question is:  What is the best way to avoid these risks and move forward with a team with the same efficiency?

Let’s take a look at the typical requirements when working with construction project data (or any business data in general):

  1. You need to track tabular data easily. Describe individual entities or personnel like clients, invoices, orders, tasks, etc. Not only will this improve your data management, but also your construction crew management and inventory control.
  2. To avoid data duplication and switch between multiple versions, you need to ensure that you and your team can conveniently link records together. For instance, to search what orders were made by which client, without showing all the client information in every invoice.
  3. You must empower the communication and collaboration of the whole team. Ideally, an immediate synchronization of the construction crew working anywhere, whether in the office or on-site.
  4. You want to use functions to calculate columns/fields easily. For example, to automatically add the necessary tax to the order price.
  5. The collected data must be searchable. You need to quickly display what we search for and describe advanced descriptions using specific terms like the due date is before next month.
  6. Apart from the tabular form of our records, it is also helpful to see visual representations – charts, timelines, lists, calendars, etc.
  7. The access rights must be configurable so that you can control who has access to what data.
  8. Ideally, you want to automate repetitive tasks such as notification when a specific inventory item runs out.

The Digital Solution for Construction Project Management


It’s time to bid farewell to spreadsheets and welcome in the new age of construction management software. Construction technology and innovation eliminate human error. 

Think of streamlined communication with the construction crew and project owners. Automated tasks. Simplified tracking and transparency of data. Real-time numbers and updates. Data privacy, controlled access, and security. Convenient schedule and tasks management. Straightforward collaboration with all stakeholders involved in the project.

This is all possible with reliable and innovative construction management software. You can access all your data at your fingertips, convenient to find and update from your mobile phone. Construction projects managed with applicable software will be completed right on schedule and with less difficulty than projects governed solely with a traditional spreadsheet. 

Spreadsheets are old-fashioned; it’s the way of the past. Construction management software can bring your construction company ahead of the competition.

Pro Crew Schedule is the Solution


Spreadsheets once have their place, but it’s not in managing construction projects anymore. Pro Crew Schedule was created to replace spreadsheets with modern, intuitive software that can offer so much more. We have done away with outdated processes by bringing consistency and predictability to the relationship between all the project stakeholders. 

Our goal is to enable teams to manage construction projects more efficiently and hassle-free. And our software is doing just that. See how Pro Crew Schedule can help your business. Start your 30-day free trial today.

Related: Construction Inventory Management: Paper, Spreadsheet, or Software?

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