Five reasons why you should be careful when using spreadsheets

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Spreadsheets can be great for solving complicated problems and to analyze data. However, complexity also comes with the risk of errors. Useful functions are being challenged by flaws and by the more fulfilling alternatives.

What can a spreadsheet do?
When working with spreadsheets, analysis and interpretation can be performed through mathematical formulas. The data from the spreadsheets can be visualized in charts and graphs. Microsoft Excel from Windows is the most widely used spreadsheet application, though Lotus 1-2-3 has previously been widely used as well. The numerous functions of spreadsheets, including data storage in rows and columns, analysis, categorization, and visualization of data, all adds to the usability of spreadsheets.

However, the use of spreadsheets is increasingly being challenged by the many weaknesses associated with its utilization. The challenges of using spreadsheets are piling up, and below five of the most common challenges are listed.

Five reasons why you should be careful when using spreadsheets

  1. Spreadsheets are full of errors
    An article from MarketWatch indicates that 88% of all spreadsheets contain errors. The high percentage covers both insignificant and more damaging errors. When such a large proportion of spreadsheets contain errors, the accuracy decreases, which creates a false basis for analysis.
  2. Spreadsheets are time consuming
    Setting up and maintaining a spreadsheet can be very time consuming, as much effort and time should be put into the process of ensuring that it does not contain errors. As spreadsheets can be complex and contain a large volume of data, maintaining them can be a time-consuming process.
  3. Spreadsheets are not designed for data management and storage
    Spreadsheets should never be used for data management nor data storage, as they are not designed with these purposes in mind. However, spreadsheets can be beneficial for data analysis but only analysis.
  4. Spreadsheets are vulnerable to human errors
    Spreadsheets are vulnerable to human errors like mistyping, filling in the wrong space or forgetting to include a minus. If a mistake is made, the probability of it being found is little.
  5. Spreadsheets complicate obtaining information from collaborators
    Often, groups of people are working within the same spreadsheet, which can prove to be a challenging process. In general, spreadsheet applications like Excel support the function of several contributors in the same spreadsheet but they make it difficult to identify who has contributed with what.