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Database vs Excel and Word

February 12 2018

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Does your company still use Microsoft Excel and Word (Or for Mac users, Pages and Numbers) to house your important info on clients, deals and orders, rather than a database? You should really be asking yourself why, because it can be easy to get used to a content management system that doesn’t work as well as an alternative. We don’t see counterfactuals and so you might rationalise the status quo by telling yourself that an ad hoc collection of spreadsheets and word documents works fine so why fix it? Change can be daunting, but there are many reasons why you should get a database. Here’s a simple list:

Number of Clicks

Databases allow you to easily click through the data and follow it through. With a few clicks of the mouse you can see all the information you need about customers, orders, items, reports, and deals with suppliers.

Ability to Drill Down

Databases make it easier to see detailed information from one section of the database, while spreadsheets can show a vast array of information but not very much detail. This makes duplications and mistakes less likely.

Taking Security Seriously

It’s easier to keep certain data restricted with a database, as every user has their own logon credentials which the administrator can restrict and regulate. Whereas with a Word or Excel file, anyone with access to the file has access to the whole file. And with hundreds of files restricted access can be difficult to keep secure.

Speed of Access

Databases make it easier to assemble accurate and detailed information quickly. A spreadsheet might require multiple files, over which this information will have to be grouped and collated. That extra time sorting through spreadsheets really does add up, and costs your business in terms of productivity.

Using Mobile

Does your business use mobile devices for at least some of its operations? A database can, with a bit of tinkering, be made to be mobile friendly, and can communicate with a mobile device to give information updates in real time. So your staff can respond to changes in scheduling or tasks from their mobile device, whether they’re at their desk or at a conference.

Faster, Better Information

Databases can be easily used to highlight potential problems, i.e. if you miss a deadline or are overdue on a payment. This is harder to do with Word or Excel files as they don’t take time into consideration. You’d need to set up a calendar system which would add another layer of work and complexity.

Version Harmonisation

With a database, everyone sees the latest version, while Excel and Word files can be shared over multiple versions, adding undue complexity.

More Layout Choice

While excel spreadsheets require that you put data in specific rows, with a spreadsheet you can put it into any format you like. As you can click through to the information you need on a database, this gives you many more options than what you can fit into columns and rows.

Elimination of Multiple Data Entry

A related problem is the endless copying and pasting required as multiple versions of your Word or Excel document are flying around. As a central database is centralised, there’s no need for any of this, saving you time to work on projects.

Information Sharing

Spreadsheets only allow one person to access it at a time. With a database, multiple people can see it simultaneously.

Wirebox has assisted many companies with database development, creating a database or helping to update them. If you don’t have a database already, and want to learn about getting one, contact us for assistance.