Back in the days, somewhere in the ’80s, when you said spreadsheet, no one talked about Excel because it simply didn’t exist yet. No, back then the king of spreadsheets was Lotus 1-2-3 and it looked something like this:
I still remember using it and it was great fun, although as you can imagine, making it more sparkly wasn’t an option.
MS Excel came somewhere in the nineties, and quite soon it became clear that it was going to dethrone Lotus 1-2-3 in the near future. Everyone used it, for personal and professional use.
I even remember using it to keep a score of my bowling sessions with my mate, calculating the average scores, how many strikes per session, etc. It was the shit. Oh and talking about shit, look at this video of Ismo, a Finnish stand-up comedian about his struggle with the word shit, quite funny:
Either way, before I go in another rabbit hole because of how my brain works, let’s go further with Excel and why you must hate it.
The world revolves around Excel
In every company I worked, doesn’t matter the industry, people loooooove to work with Excel for any kind of reasons.
“Oh we need to hire a bunch of people” -> Excel
“Hey, we need to list an amount of leads to call” -> Excel
“Look, we need to know what jobs have priority over others” -> you have 3 guesses
I even see job openings where being able to use Excel is considered as big plus or even mandatory!
I’m pretty sure that if Excel, for some magical reasons, should disappear from every computer in the world (and yes, talking about Excel Online as well… just imagine it for 2 seconds) the professional world would implode. Everyone will be stuck on their chair, unable to process what’s going on, staring into the void and contemplate their lives.
In this (sadly utopia) scenario, I would be one of the not so many people in the world who would be happy, because finally people would be obliged to change their way of working.
Ok now the real part!
Excel is NOT a collaborative tool, wasn’t meant from the beginning and will never be, period.
No matter what Microsoft or other Excel-gurus try to sell you, IT IS NOT THE CASE.
Basically, it’s a nice tool to use for your personal stuff with some basic coding and calculations and/or expressions. People loved using it at home and thus thought “Why not use it at work? It’s sooo easy and it’s freeee!” (It’s not free, but that’s not the subject here).
And that’s how it became so popular and ingrained in our society, from back in the late 90’s/beginning of the 00’s until now where it is still used as a primary tool for different departments and I actually believe Microsoft won so many customers thanks to Excel, not Windows.
To make it even worse, Google copied it and made Google Sheets (BTW, you should listen to the Clickup podcast where they talk about Google Docs and what made it so popular: When it clicked).
Society has evolved, they way we work has evolved. Silo’s are breaking down, or at least they should. Departments work more closely together by creating bridges between them.
Sending Excel files through email and naming them with every new version has always be so completely ridiculous, and now even more. And even if Excel Online is a clear upgrade, it is still used incorrectly by the majority of the people, sadly.
The biggest thing what most people or departments are missing out is this:
out-of-the-box automation whether with spreadsheets, online or offline versions of them or any other tool.
And this is where I’m getting at with this post:
Open your mind, think outside the box, put on your naughty pants, get rid of Excel and try the new stuff, ffs!
“But if not Excel, what should I be using?”
Well, it depends primarily on what your job is, or in which department you work.
I’m going to list some nice SAAS (Software-As-A-Service) companies which made fantastic tools, some are even usable in different departments within one firm, depending on the size of it.
Of course this list is only an indication, others must exist, yet I didn’t use nor test them.
This is to me the easiest segment to list as I’ve done some Project and Program Management in my later years.
You can’t go wrong with my personal Top 3 below, in alphabetical order:
The amount of people I see using Excel as tool for creating estimates, quotations and even invoices is insane. Yet there are tools specifically made for this and it’s called a CRM (Customer Relationship Management).
Here are my takes on the tools I used or saw good ratings on:
Sales for SME’s (First 2 I might be biased being Belgian the first 2 are Belgian-based companies
Sales for Corporate
- Microsoft Dynamics 365 Sales
- Salesforce Sales Cloud
- For the love of what you hold dear, avoid everything SAP-related, I’m begging you
A few last words
Departments like Planning, Marketing, Finance, etc use Excel as well, maybe not as their primary tool, but as a secondary tool to request information from other departments, which is an enormous time-consuming and life-draining activity.
If you feel finger-pointed, I’m sorry you are in that position, but I hope you will find a way to change that situation.
It’s never too late to change, but the sooner the better.
There are so many ways to be more productive and to collaborate in a better way. Have a look at my other post about ASOSA if you haven’t, it will give you some insights on how to get started.
Or if you need some help, you can still contact me and see how I can assist in your journey into a wonderful life without Excel.