I love Excel.
We’ve been buddies since the Windows 3.1 days. It took me through school and well into my work life. I’ve strayed a few times and used Open Office (at home on my Linux desktop) and am finding I’m doing more of my personal projects in Google Drive but I still spend a great deal of my work day in Excel. I’m even still learning new features that save me time and headaches (I do not know how I just learned about repeating columns on pages when printing).
But I also hate Excel.
There is one particular use case that is getting my goat today. And that is using Excel for project management.
One of the things, if not the main thing, that has made Excel so popular is that it is so flexible. People use it for anything and everything they can fit into its grid format. Little or no thought is given as to whether or not it is the best tool for the job. And many people, including my office, use it to track projects.
I’ve got my department on Asana but many projects cross departmental boundaries. Every other department at the company uses Excel to track projects and we have dozens of spreadsheets for that purpose. Some of those are approaching a hundred columns. The workflow is thus:
1. New client comes on.
2. New rows get added to any project spreadsheets that are needed.
3. People need to remember to check spreadsheets for their tasks.
4. People complete their tasks, update the spreadsheets, and email others that their task is done.
5. People sometimes forget to email.
6. Balls are dropped. Tasks don’t get done.
The beauty of project management software is that you don’t need to manually notify others or remember to check files for tasks. The software does it for you magically! That cuts down on communications, and more importantly, errors. That leads to a happier and more efficient work environment.
With so much quality project management software being offered for free there is absolutely no reason to use Excel for that task. So I plead to you to make the world a better place and use Excel for what God intended it for. To store recipes.
(And if you want to replace the spreadsheets you use to track bills, client invoices, or time-off StartOpz has got you covered.)