Small businesses are the backbone of the UK economy – not least the huge number of start-ups since 2000. Many are highly innovative, using their inherent flexibility and agility to exploit social media and web enabled business models to expand into new areas and rapidly grasp new opportunities. Yet why are so many running the business on spread sheets?
For the vast majority of office based individuals, the spread sheet has become the default location for any information – from top prospects and customers to hot leads and product offers. This is vital business information – information that needs to be both accurate and available to across the company. Instead, spread sheets are distributed across shared drives, individual laptops and PCs, creating islands of data that require time and huge manual effort to consolidate into meaningful, useful information. Even worse, spread sheets are riddled with errors – 88% of all spread sheets include errors and almost one in five large businesses have suffered financial losses as a result of errors in spread sheets.¹
The business impact is clear: with no central place to store information, individuals or teams report information separately or base their reports on out-of-date information; managers spend far too long consolidating and updating spread sheets to get a complete business overview; while real time collaboration and co-operation is extremely difficult.
Given the positive economic outlook and burgeoning opportunities, business agility is now essential. Sales Managers simply do not have time to waste consolidating multiple spread sheets or identifying errors. But in a spread sheet dominated workplace what is the alternative?
The answer, perhaps surprisingly to some, is CRM. Replacing spread sheets with a single source of customer information within the CRM can improve every aspect of the business. Employees can collaborate effectively, all working on the same source of information. Sales Managers automatically have access to a single source of all potential leads, enabling activity to be prioritised and ensuring top opportunities are never missed. With a clearly visible sales process, all actions and activities – including current status and next steps – are held centrally, enabling anyone in the business to respond fast if required.
Critically, ditching spread sheets for CRM enables a company to reduce costs – with organisations regaining upwards of 15 days each month currently spent compiling reports from multiple spread sheets. Just consider how much more effective, productive and revenue generating sales and marketing teams could become with that extra time.
Habits, good and bad, are hard to break – but the fact that spread sheets have become so ingrained in day to day business activity does not mean they are the best way to store or share information. When a company could become so much more productive, collaborative and agile – isn’t it time to reconsider that reliance on spread sheets?