It amazes me after being in the delivery of project solutions business for over 18 years how we complicate what we do by doing something "simpler". I guess I have to confess to you first of all I'm a recovering accountant. For those of you that know me know that although I understand accounting, have an accounting degree, I am often referred to as the worst accountant in the world. I don't think that is true, I'm pretty sure there are a couple of accountants that are worse than I am somewhere oversees, but otherwise I might have to admit all I care about is that the numbers are correct. If they got there through 1 huge summary entry with 47 thoughts going on, ultimately I only care about that it is correct.
Which leads me to simplicity and how it kills productivity. We all want to be productive and that is the key to project solutions, to make what you do operationally drive financial reporting and activity. However, we tend to kill productivity by using a "simpler" solution. The efficiency killer I'm ranting about today is Microsoft Excel. Don't get me wrong, I love this application and actually know many Excel users that love it so much it becomes their reporting system, data entry system, word processor and picking up their dry cleaning. How did we get so far away from application efficiency?
It is not just accountants, but everyone involved in project management helps perpetuate this problem. Here are some examples of how project employees utilize Excel:
- Report Writer (of course with manual re-key of data)
- Financial Statement creation (of course with manual re-key of data)
- Scheduling System (this is a crazy use of Excel that involves so much re-keying of data it is unbelievable)
- Resource Planning
- Task Assignments
- Project Status Reports
- Dashboards for Project Employees, Project Managers and Executives
I'm convinced that simplicity of someone not having to think about process, discuss cultural challenges with other project resources and laziness are a big part of the Excel phenomenon. Amazingly it is an easy problem to fix. We have to think about how to make what we do operationally drive activity. Example, how is time captured on projects? Make sure that time updates costs, updates project schedules, updates projects for billing purposes and use SharePoint to provide role based reporting.
Sounds difficult? Amazingly, there are pre-configured solutions that allow us to do exactly this. I know because we deliver these solutions to Excel addicts every day. I don't want to beat any of you Microsoft Excel users up because I'm a recovering Excelaholic. I just want to offer you an easier way to see productivity gains within your organizations.
So next time you run into a problem with your system, take a step back, think about your processes and don't click the Excel button. I hope this helps you out.
By the way, sorry for some of the spelling and grammer in this blog, I struggled because evidently Excel doesn't have speeling and grammer checker :)