Are you still using Spreadsheets to Manage your team?
We chat daily with project managers around the world who find themselves trying to manage teams of resources with nothing but a spreadsheet and a headache. You are not alone, so don’t be surprised if you find yourself reading this article. By the time they talk to us at Hub Planner they are frustrated with their current “hack” of a solution, understand that they spend more time maintaining it than doing their job, and want to ditch the spreadsheet in the trash for a real resource scheduling solution.
As we will look at, the pitfalls of using a spreadsheet are not always apparent right away, but after a while a spreadsheet used in this capacity will fall apart, and the management mess begins.
The Top Five Reasons why a Spreadsheet will not work for Resource Planning / Scheduling!
- Fitting a Square into a Circle
- Time Management
- Team & Management Participation
- Availability & Utilisation
Usually in every company, there is someone who is brilliant at using Excel and Google Sheets, and normally it is that Project Manager who creates the master Excel sheet and owns it. To be fair, Excel is a well established software and can be utilised for lots of computations and grid style layouts. Weather sharing the spreadsheet on a server, or cloud service, as soon as a resource makes changes the problem begins. Excel sheet owners tend to be very protective of who they let edit the resource plan, but before long everyone has their fingers in the pie, typing in numbers, and coloring in cells how they like. The knowledge of how to use over-complicated spreadsheets can’t be shared with other users easily and therefore creates a bottleneck for the PM.
2. Fitting a Square into a Circle
Spreadsheets are great for many things, but if you are a consultancy, digital agency, education institute or any mid-sized business you require more niche flexibility for your resource scheduling and planning specifically. There are many workarounds to UI elements in Excel but at the end of the day you are forcing a tool to do something it was not intended to do out-of-the-box.
3. Time Management
One of the most common issues we hear from our customers is that they spend more time fixing, tweaking, color coding and fixing again their plan, that they don’t end up doing their job. Pretty simple this one.
4. Team & Management Participation
To get everyone involved you need to have a tool which gives you the proper rights management. You may not want your team to see what other people are working on, what budgets we have set on projects or any other sensitive material. Meanwhile the management team want to know all. There needs to be a professional balance which Excel doesn’t / can’t provide you with.
5. Availability & Utilisation
The final reason we are told why Excel spreadsheets often fail for employee planning / scheduling is that there is no easy way to get a bird’s-eye view of your team. The scale of the spreadsheet is limited to the size of the cells. You can’t see who is available and who is not or filter on skills etc. For example: “I want to see who is available……in New York and knows Photoshop”.
Three Reasons why a Spreadsheet can work for you
We focused on why it won’t work, but there are a lot of diehard excelers out there who will argue they have the ultimate solutions with macros and using all the mod cons of excel. If we were to pick a couple of reasons how it might work for you, they would be:
- Small Team
- You plan basic, long projects that don’t change.
- No budget
Moving from a Spreadsheet to a Resource Scheduler
Shifting to a Resource Scheduler is an excellent way of solving the mentioned pitfalls and ensuring efficient resource and project management. The actual move from a spreadsheet to a resource scheduler like Hub Planner is quite simple. We usually suggest as a start to run your projects and resource planning in parallel, on a pilot basis to see quickly howHub Planner can help you and eliminate the overhead of maintaining a spreadsheet. We offer demo calls to walk you through the product and a 60 day free trial of our premium solution.