Adam Clarke - Feb 14, 2020

Why it’s time to break up with your Spreadsheets 💔

We get it, you’ve been seeing spreadsheets for as long as you’ve been working and there’s something beautiful about all those lines. Every job you’ve ever had, spreadsheets have been there too. Your work colleagues have changed, as have the areas you’ve lived, loved and lost. It’s been the one constant in your 9 to 5 and, inevitably, way into the night when deadlines loom. Occasionally you’ve also been known to bring them along to hotel bars, 5 star all-inclusive beach resorts and every now and then to a wedding, but only those that happen on a Friday or Monday. 

The way you can change the colours of any cell and even change the thickness of the borders to meet your exact needs. Not to mention quick sorting, keyboard shortcuts, need a graph or pivot table -BAM- consider it done. Not to mention those glorious VLOOKUP’s that you’ve carefully curated to make your life seem easier, it’s like magic before your very eyes. You’re a master of your craft, and everyone in the office comes to you when they’re at a loss, always leaving happy because you could fix it. Sadly, no one seems to care about that time you wrote a three-line IF statement which worked first time, though it doesn’t make you any less proud. YES, it’s all thanks to your loving relationship with your beautiful spreadsheets. 

Things are changing fast, however. Okay, people still sit in meetings and nod at rows and rows of numbers they don’t fully understand, and occasionally they will ask the importance of E27 compared to F27. The excitement of already having ‘a graph for that’ is palpable as the room swoons once realising what all those numbers meant. 

So, what’s the problem? You and your spreadsheets are happy. Content. Comfortable. Familiar.  Well, it’s now the middle of February and you’re in a meeting talking about figures from last year. You’ve known about the ease of moving your Accounting to Xero or similar, and you’ve heard about Expend (obviously) and how it would give you real-time control and insights into spending and expenses. You’ve been introduced to services like VAT IT, who automate reclaiming VAT, but there’s something so relaxing about spending hours going line by line through 1000’s upon 1000’s of your beloved spreadsheet’s rows. You’ve heard great things about Chaser too, but deep down, you love composing your orchestra of excel skills to generate and present the monthly ‘Naughty Late Payment’ customer list to management. Ready for it to be chased and berated. The likes of Float and Fluidly would be fun for cash-flow forecasting, you briefly muse, but then you remember how long it took to make your cash flow spreadsheet… It's one of the wonders of the world in your eyes.

You feel like spreadsheets give control, but in truth, they control you and in doing so takes ownership away from other people, slowing them and the business down.

Your boss calls you into his office. His buddy at the gym said they had their 2019 figures meeting back in the second week back in January. He’d also heard an advert for Xero on the radio in his car on the way to work. He says to you, “I’m sorry, you should have told me that you needed cloud accounting software and apps. It must have been awful doing all that stuff you do in your spreadsheets to get those reports done for me and the rest of the team. My friend told me that he did the same and now they spend more time making faster and better business decisions.”

To which you reply, “Yes boss it’s been awful, I’ve never really liked spreadsheets if I’m honest. Thank you so much, I’m really excited about moving to the cloud. When can I start?” A lump gathers in your throat as you realise the time has come for you and your beloved spreadsheets to part ways, (or at least spend a lot less time together), but you know the time is right, it is 2020 after all. 

You step out of the office drained, yet relieved. Who knows what the next few weeks and months will hold, but that is for the new software to worry about. All that’s left for you to work out is what to do with all that extra time, perhaps you can finally demarcate time for strategic business decisions. Or to work on those new pricing models you always said you’d do? Would that need a spreadsheet?? Quite possibly...

Written by Adam Clarke

I'm the Marketing and Partnership Manager at Expend. When I'm not fighting expenses admin with our amazing solution, you can find me eating my way around London's food scene.