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When Spreadsheets Aren’t the Right Choice

Inherent Defects Obstruct Digital Transformation

Spreadsheets Aren’t Great for Everything

The electronic spreadsheet is among the top five most important advances in business management to come along in the last 100 years. It has revolutionized almost all aspects of running an organization, especially finance and accounting. Desktop spreadsheets are invaluable for personal productivity, particularly when it comes to tasks such as one-off analyses, ad-hoc reporting and prototyping. Spreadsheet software has come a long way since it was introduced four decades ago.

But while spreadsheets are essential for some uses, they have four inherent technological defects that make them the wrong choice for many key processes. One defect is that spreadsheets cannot guarantee data integrity and so are notoriously error-prone. A second is their lack of referential integrity, which makes operations such as consolidating multiple spreadsheets a time-consuming chore. A third is security: Sensitive corporate data is at risk anytime it’s circulated as an email attachment. And the fourth is the lack of a programmed workflow, which makes managing spreadsheet- supported processes onerous, time consuming and prone to lapses and inconsistencies.


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