There are still quite a few businesses that use programs like Excel to organize their information. While spreadsheets can compute complex equations and create charts and graphs, they aren’t necessarily the best option for accessing, updating and analyzing important data.
Many spreadsheet functions require intricate formula entry, which doesn’t lend itself to specialized, yet simple tasks. As a result, the features of spreadsheet programs that may make them more appealing than database software go unused, author Dan Brody wrote in a piece for Entrepreneur.com.
While spreadsheets are limited to storing numerical values, databases made with programs like FileMaker can store text, codes and images by monitoring patterns based on certain sets of rules. An IT specialist may be able to manipulate a spreadsheet optimized for specific functions, but as Brody explained, the resulting make-shift program will be masked by a sea of numbers that stretch across hundreds of rows and columns. Database software, on the other hand, can be customized by a FileMaker developer to have a user-friendly interface that allows for simple modification and review.
In addition to the aforementioned flaws of spreadsheet-based organization, Brody explained there are a few other ways to tell if your business needs to switch to database storage. In the same way a message is communicated in the game of telephone, passing spreadsheet documents on from person to person creates an enormous risk of inaccuracy. Databases can be accessed from a single source, which as Brody wrote, creates a “single version of the truth.”
The benefits go beyond internal affairs though. He said that businesses wouldn’t ask a customer to provide information by filling in a spreadsheet, but they probably would be inclined to ask clients to fill out a form online, which can be set up with a database.
If your company has all of its important data stored in spreadsheets, talk to a FileMaker consultant. Typically, spreadsheets can be easily imported to a database.