We (Intuit QuickBase) recently wrote up some thoughts, compiled into a white paper, on seven ways you can improve team productivity with customizable web-based software. The first of those tips is shared below.
For the rest of them – about two a week – please visit the QuickBase blog and click on the industry trends category. Or, if you’d like to get all the tips now, click here to request a copy of the white paper – “7 Ways to Optimize Project Team Productivity: Using Customizable Web-based Software to Your Business Advantage.”
Tip #1 – Stop the “spreadsheet shuffle” and start working better – together
There’s an old saying: “When your only tool is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.” For many companies, the spreadsheet is the hammer they apply to any project. And just as a hammer is a poor way to measure dimensions or cut wood, the spreadsheet – though familiar – introduces more project management problems than it solves when you’re working with a team.
When you and your colleagues do the “spreadsheet shuffle,” your team choreography descends into chaos. Without a centralized location for all your project information – a place where individuals can update their pieces of information in real-time- you don’t have one version of the truth. Instead you’ve got spreadsheets and emails travelling around and potentially people working off of inconsistent/old information.
Spreadsheets hurt productivity in several ways. You waste time reconciling multiple document versions. There is a lack of adequate tracking and audit tools which make it nearly impossible to find errors. And, spreadsheet applications haven’t been designed to encourage and facilitate communication: they have no features for tracking progress, prompting activity or alerting team members to deadlines.
Emailing spreadsheets is a project work-around, not an effective means for managing work. The best alternative is an online project management application that centralizes project information, provides all team members with secure access to the information they need—whenever and wherever they need it—streamlines data gathering, tracking and communication, and makes it easy to stay on the same page and easy to monitor progress.
We recently asked a few QuickBase customers how they put a stop to the shuffle – check out their comments here.
One example: “We used to send these big spreadsheets as email attachments to the whole department on a reoccurring basis. Besides clogging up everyone’s inbox, we usually ended up referring to different versions once in a while, adding to the confusion. Another reason that pushed us into a better solution was that IT decided to strip our macro-based Excel files from the emails, sending us scrambling to find a solution around that new ‘policy’.”
Pretty neat, we think, right?