When it comes to storing data and sharing information, spreadsheets have long been people’s go-to. After all, Excel allows your business to store and analyze data in a flexible and inexpensive way. They allow you to display charts, show tables, sort data, and filter for your needs.
Many organizations use Excel over just about any other kind of database. Which isn’t ideal. As sophisticated as you might be able to make your spreadsheet, in the end, the tool itself has some drawbacks and serious limitations.
When it comes to long-term data storage or managing documents, they only allow you to make simple query options. More seriously, there is no way to enforce data integrity and very little by way of protecting your data from being corrupted. Sounds serious, right?
Here are 5 reasons you should consider swapping your trusty spreadsheet for a database.
While Excel and Google Sheets have provided ways to allow multiple users to collaborate on a spreadsheet, this isn’t always easy or ideal. A database, on the other hand, is specifically designed so that multiple people can access information from the same data sets at the same time.
Not only that, but it is harder for people who are accessing data via a database to accidentally edit or delete data. It’s possible to provide people access to information while restricting their ability to edit specific parts of it.
Typically on a spreadsheet, you’re looking at a zero-sum game. People can either edit everything, and therefore risk deleting and permanently altering data without realizing it, or they can edit nothing, or need to make multiple copies of the same file to change certain areas.
Databases are much easier to back up and have advanced permission settings. You can track document and data versions, and compare changes that have been made easily.
It can be frustrating to spend time and energy on a spreadsheet, only to find that information has been duplicated unnecessarily and then needs to be checked. Or worse, your spreadsheet becomes bloated and unwieldy, with too much information and a lot of time that needs to be spent on organizing it.
This is the kind of extra work that a database can easily cut out for you. Typically when building a database, it will allow you to perform relational searches. Data in a database is linked to one specific entry, so you can find everything attached quickly and easily, quickly deleting duplicate information and keeping things organized and a manageable size.
In fact, data management is the number 1 reason to use a database. This is a tool specific for the job, and while you can store a certain amount of data, once you get too much the spreadsheet will start to groan under the weight of all the data. Depending on your technology, this means maintaining pivot tables and summaries, and sometimes running calculations can cause your computer to freeze.
A database is designed to store a lot of data. What counts as a lot? If you’re using more than 20 columns or over 100 rows, you might find that a database allows you to be more agile and to save time while working. Not only that, but a well-designed database can last you years and years, rather than needing to start over again and again.
We’ve all felt the frustration of scrolling and scrolling through data to find the one thing that you’re looking for. Even for relatively simple queries, you’ll find that a spreadsheet cannot necessarily offer you the data that you’re looking for in a quick way.
This is what a database is built for. You can query the data, sort it or filter it, or even pull the information out that you need to fit into a formatted report. A database can save you a massive amount of time and energy.
As a collection of information, a database can perform complex queries of datasets, to pull out the information that is needed. Building reports using a spreadsheet can take a lot of time, and increases the opportunity for human error – meanwhile, a database offers you separate and distinct data and reporting features, so you can build reports tailored to you.
DashboardFox is a self-hosted, business intelligence tool that allows you to upload the raw data in your Microsoft Excel (or CSV) workbooks and convert them into interactive, secure, web-based dashboards.
DashboardFox will automatically convert the data in Excel into a database format and generate a business intelligence semantic layer so that business users can create reports and dashboards without the help of IT.
And when you have new data, simply upload the same spreadsheet again to either append to or replace the existing data and all the previously created reports and dashboards are automatically updated.
Security. You can assign data-level policies on who can see what aspects of the data. Restrict users to only seeing their department or customers to only seeing their customer information.
Eliminate emailing sensitive data. All of the access to data is through a web browser. Users have a central place to view data and always are in-sync with the most accurate and current information. On a mobile or tablet? No app is required, simply use the web-browser and all reports and dashboards will adjust to display properly.
Scheduled email reports. Sometimes the process dictates a spreadsheet is sent via email (perhaps for archival/historical purposes, sometimes because certain people just don’t like logging into web apps). With DashboardFox you can still schedule a report to go out on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis and export all the data into Excel and attach it to the message.
Contact us today to discuss your requirements.