Recently we’ve seen a trend in requests from potential clients. Organizations are bringing us complex, built-in-house Excel spreadsheets and asking us to convert them into web-based decision-support tools. Though Excel is a powerful tool, it has limitations and clients are seeing those hamper their work as Excel spreadsheet grows. On the other hand, web-based applications offer more flexibility and control. After speaking with several organizations requesting that we bring their Excel tools to the web, we want to share what we have identified as the key reasons to convert an Excel spreadsheet into a web-based decision-support application. This will make your tool more useful, user-friendly, and secure.
In our virtual world, we share a lot of information electronically. If you want to send someone information about your custom Excel tool, you have to first ask that they sign an NDA and then send them your entire document which likely contains a ton of data. Not only is this clunky and inefficient, but you also expose your custom formulas and risk having this information shared with others.
With web-based applications, you are able to push updates and refresh your product regularly. With Excel, you have to make an entirely new document with every update and it is difficult to monitor whether or not people are using the most recent version. Regulations and technology are ever-changing and you don’t want outdated formulas and versions of your tool being used.
It is hard to enforce a fee model for an Excel tool, as there is no simple payment integration and there is also no fool-proof way to block a single buyer from sharing the tool with others. With a web-based application, these concerns all vanish as payment can be built-in to the application itself.
Complex Excel spreadsheets require training. Creators of these tools have to walk each user through every cell, explain where to enter certain information, and describe the meaning of outputs. With web-based applications, people can be led through the tool step by step, avoiding the brain overload of an Excel tool where all of the information is presented at once. This means the user spends less time being trained to use a tool and allows more time for decision-making and other important tasks.
Decision-makers require tools in order to prioritize tasks and communicate important information to the public. For example, an Excel spreadsheet can not be used as a public-facing tool that explains relevant data in a large meeting setting. Conversely, with a web-based tool, leaders are able to drive conversation and share knowledge seamlessly with just a computer screen and a URL.
In contrast to an Excel spreadsheet, geospatial data can be automatically pulled into a web application based on the location of the user. For example, the user can enter their address and pull in local weather data. Additionally, automated API pulls can be built into a web-based application which allows for data to easily flow in and out.
Interactive maps, charts, and other visualizations are important when making complex information digestible to those with less experience on the topic you are communicating. The power of data is limited when exclusively using Excel which was not built for advanced data visualizations. Custom visualizations are helpful when communicating complicated figures and they can easily be built into a web-based decision support tool.
Excel is a powerful and useful tool that enables you to create your own, custom formulas and workflows. It is a great tool for building your own models and calculations particular to your field of work. When your spreadsheet has stretched the limits of Excel, we can walk through future goals for your tool and organization and create a custom, web-based application tailored to the specific needs of users.
Interested in learning more about how we can help your organization? Contact us now- we’d love to chat.