How is your organization managing projects?
If your answer is Excel, you are not alone. Microsoft Excel is the project management tool of least resistance. With other project management solutions that provide accurate construction data automation, Excel should not be the answer.
Common reasons businesses continue to use Excel include:
No purchase required (since most businesses already own the MS Office Suite).
No training (although there should be).
No [true] accountability.
Just use Excel.
Project managers, clients, and leaders of teams at every level say this. Excel seems to be a quick and easy way to manage project dates, list milestones, and even provide a report-out at the end of the project.
So what’s wrong with Excel?
#1 Lack of version control keeps everyone guessing about what is “current”
Even if the spreadsheet is stored on a shared drive and formatted to allow multiple users to enter updates simultaneously, there is still a risk that one or two people have saved a second version and are entering updates into a file that no one sees.
This risk becomes greater each time a “current state” email is sent out with a copy of the file. If the file is opened, there is a strong possibility that it will be saved to someone’s desktop – blocking access to that user’s updates.
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As a result of delayed and missing updates, no one trusts the information in the spreadsheet – which renders that information meaningless.
#2 The Keeper of the Spreadsheet Becomes Public Enemy Number One
Since getting everyone on the team to enter updates, without changing anyone else’s information, and to do it promptly, without creating a local copy, is a tall order most teams elect a keeper of the spreadsheet.
One person is responsible for gathering completion dates and status updates from everyone on the team and entering that information into the spreadsheet.
The result? Everyone on the team avoids the spreadsheet keeper at all costs. Team transparency suffers, relationships sour, and there is still no clarity on the true progress of the project.
#3 There is no such thing as “current” project status in Excel
As soon as data is entered and shared, it is out of date.
No one on the team is updating project status in real-time.
In fact, as the “History” listing of any project tracked in Excel shows, almost all projects dates are entered on the same day – which means one of two things:
- Entire projects are often completed in one day.
- Excel is a poor project tracker.
At best, teams can look back on a project and see who was responsible for which tasks and whether or not they have been reported as complete – but that is about it.
#4 No Two Projects in Excel are Alike
It is nearly impossible to aggregate data across multiple spreadsheets.
No one knows, with any confidence, if laying 200 feet of cable at Project A should take a day, a week, or a month based on previous project data.
Instead, that data is locked away in a forgotten spreadsheet that may or may not accurately reflect what happened in the field.
In fact, those previous spreadsheets may not even bear any resemblance to the spreadsheet currently being used to track data, making it impossible to compare milestones or prepare history-based estimates.
Excel provides just enough customization to ensure that every project is tracked in a slightly different manner – just enough to make it impossible to gather historical reference data.
#5 Answering Inquiries is a Monumental Effort
What happens when an RFP or environmental or regulatory body asks to see a cumulative report on the projects the organization has completed?
It is common for RFPs to ask for documentation that substantiates claims made in proposals such as:
Forty-percent of projects are completed under budget.
Ninety-eight percent of projects are completed to the planned schedule.
The proof needed to back-up these claims is impossible to prepare if project data is isolated in individual spreadsheets.
Even Microsoft recognizes that Excel is not an adequate project management tool (ever hear of Microsoft Project?). Stop using software that was designed to organize, calculate, and format data to manage projects, capture updates, and verify that critical processes are complete.
Construction Data Automation is the Answer
Active Oversight is process verification software that captures real-time updates when and where the work is completed. Construction data automation increases employee efficiency and provides consistent data measurement. Instead of tracking down dates or creating one-off spreadsheets to manage each project, Active Oversight provides construction data automation that give organizations the power to make fact-based decisions on staffing, project bids, and resource loading.