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Spreadsheets: Why Project Managers Love Them & Hate Them

By 27/03/2018 July 9th, 2019 No Comments

Project managers have mixed emotions about project management tools that trigger both advantages and drawbacks, such as email, time sheets and Gantt Charts. However, there’s one love/hate relationship that virtually all project managers grasp so deeply, that they could write sonnets worthy of Shakespeare: the joy and pain of spreadsheets.

First, let’s highlight project managers love (or at least, like) about spreadsheets:

  • Familiar: For some enterprises, spreadsheets have been part of the project management landscape for decades. It’s a basic staple that everyone assumes will be part of the toolkit.
  • Simple: Spreadsheets are relatively simple for creating basic formulas and formatting. Team members and customers don’t have to be certified Spreadsheet Wizards or climb a steep learning curve.
  • Accessible: Most computers and devices are configured to open spreadsheets. There’s typically no need to install new software, solve compatibility problems, or submit help desk tickets.

However, as author Giuseppi di Lampedusa wrote: “Love. Of course, love. Flames for a year, ashes for thirty.” Here’s how this tragic observation applies to the 7 deadly sins of spreadsheets, which, alas, create many hate-worthy ashes in the form of failed projects, unhealthy portfolios, and frustrated project managers:

No Visibility: Spreadsheets fail to deliver an accurate, real-time snapshot of what’s really happening at both the project and portfolio levels.

clarizen - project management tool

Get full visibility into project progress at-a-glance in Clarizen

Limited Versatility – Poor Resource Management: Spreadsheets were not designed for project management, and as such lack basic out-of-the-box features like task dependencies and resource planning and management.

Collaboration Obstacles: Spreadsheets are static files, which makes it difficult — and sometimes impossible — to track resources, brainstorm strategies, and align communications across distributed team members.

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Collaboration on a project within Clarizen

Information Overload: Spreadsheets quickly “run out of room” when it comes to capturing information — especially regarding change requests. Consequently, team members and customers are forced to cobble together numerous emails and files to get the information and context they need.

Governance Hazards: Spreadsheets don’t support fundamental project governance processes, such as managing approvals, intake, tracking, or phase gate deliverables.

Bad Risk Management: Spreadsheets must be manually updated, which is costly, tedious and time-consuming, and leads to data entry errors—and can leave your company at risk.  Not to mention IP risks since hackers routinely use VBA macros in spreadsheets to deploy malware and other threats.

Help Is Here!

 If you’re a project manager who’s mired in a love/hate relationship with spreadsheets, then be assured that you aren’t alone. Thousands of project managers around the world know what you’re going through. What’s more, you don’t have to continue experiencing “flames for a year, ashes for thirty.”

We can help you curb your spreadsheet cravings, and discover a much smarter and more successful way of managing projects and portfolios. Take the first step on the road to recovery: click here.

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Doug Uptmor

Doug Uptmor

Doug is the Director of Content Marketing at Clarizen, the leader in enterprise project and portfolio management software.

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