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Why You Should Migrate Your Spreadsheets to the Cloud

Millions of businesses and professionals are still using spreadsheets to keep track of things like financials, customer contact information, and other forms of data.

While spreadsheets were the pinnacle of data management for many years, and are still useful for some functions today, in most cases, traditional spreadsheets are now handily outclassed by cloud-based software. If you're still using spreadsheets to manage most of your business's functions, it's time you took a long, analytical look at their weaknesses—and time you considered making an upgrade.

The Weaknesses of Spreadsheets

Compared to cloud-hosted software, which your team can use to collaborate, keep accurate records, and analyze data, spreadsheets have a handful of major disadvantages:

  • Less collaborative potential. Depending on what type of spreadsheet software you use, you may have access to some collaborative features. But if you're working with local files, or you're sharing hard files on a cloud server, your options are limited. You won't be able to update documents in real-time, and you may be stuck dealing with differences between old and new versions. By contrast, cloud-hosted software would track all your changes in real-time, even if multiple people are working on the same project.
  • Higher susceptibility to errors. Cloud software has built-in functions meant to catch errors before they interfere with your work significantly. For example, it may be able to detect that the data entered in a certain field do not match the formatting requirements associated with that field, or may be able to detect redundant information. With traditional spreadsheets, you'll be stuck dealing with the possibility—or rather, the inevitability—of human errors.
  • Lower security. Spreadsheets themselves aren't very secure. You may be able to apply different security standards to them, such as locking them from being edited, sending them only via encrypted messaging, and so on, but there are still going to be security vulnerabilities to deal with. Most cloud software providers pride themselves on their security standards, and since all the data will be hosted on external servers, you won't have to worry about it. Additionally, you'll be able to create different user roles and apply different security permissions so your employees and teammates don't gain access to information they shouldn't be able to see.
  • Reduced accessibility. One of the benefits of the cloud is that you can access your data from anywhere, using just about any device. Rather than being stored locally, your data and files are hosted from a central server. This makes it much easier to access the data you need when you need it, regardless of whether you're at the office or are working remotely.
  • Fewer change logs. Some types of spreadsheet software allow you some insight into how the file has been changed in the past, but these features tend to be limited compared to what you'll find in a full-fledged cloud software service. In some cases, it may be imperative to know who accessed which files, who made which changes, and when.
  • No built-in backups. What happens if the device containing your spreadsheets is corrupted, lost, or stolen? You can make manual backups for your records, or even back up your work automatically, but these still require ongoing effort to maintain. By contrast, storing your information with a third-party cloud service provider means they'll handle the redundant backups on your behalf.
  • Poor scaling. Spreadsheets are still great for managing individual projects, freelance work, and the financial records and operational data of very small businesses. But as you add more people to your team and more complexity to your work, they become less and less viable. Spreadsheets simply aren't designed with scalability in mind the way cloud platforms are.
  • Few updates and customizations. You may get periodic updates for Excel, but its core features are still similar to what was available 20 years ago. Cloud platforms, on the other hand, are constantly getting upgrades and modifications—and in some cases, you'll be able to customize your experience with the help of plugins and open source software tweaks. You may even be able to automatically pull data from other sources, saving you hours of time.

How to Make the Transition

Even knowing these disadvantages, you may be reluctant to make the transition to cloud-hosted software, for one of several reasons. You might not be prepared to spend the money on the upgrade. Your employees might be reluctant to learn how to use a new system. You may not have access to IT resources to smooth the transition.

But whatever your current limitations or points of reluctance are, you should understand the long-term benefits of an upgrade will almost certainly outweigh the short-term costs. Take a close look at the efficiency and reliability of your current system, and consider what an improvement could do for your organization.

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