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Why you should convert spreadsheets into web applications

Convert spreadsheets into web applications

Spreadsheets have become ingrained into the fabric of business management and become the de facto method for managing financial, customer and asset data for the past few decades. Nothing has really changed regarding spreadsheet usage since its inception in the 90s when the complete dominance of Windows led to Microsoft Excel becoming the market leader in regards to spreadsheet usage.

This is a little surprising considering how important data is to a business, especially since it is very easy to create a database, as well as build and roll out an enterprise web application to manage that data. For some very small businesses it is perhaps understandable, but for most organisations, which surprisingly includes many Fortune 500 businesses, it doesn’t seem logical.

The overriding consensus for the reasons behind this seems to be familiarity and the perceived lack of data to warrant the use of anything other than a spreadsheet. However, most organisations actually generate a significant amount of data and storing it in a spreadsheet is susceptible to a wide-range of disadvantages.

Spreadsheets are cumbersome to retrieve data instantly, are exposed to potential data corruption and offer little or no data validation. Simple human errors can also skew formulas, equations, and figures resulting in inaccurate budgets, forecasts and other business processes.

Businesses usually have a distinct way of working, with defined protocols to follow and certain criteria to be met. Some spreadsheet users will be highly proficient, whereas others may only have a basic understanding. Differing methodologies will mean there is no consistency in the creation, development and management of spreadsheets, which makes it extremely hard when it comes to auditing and modelling.

The problem with spreadsheets:
  • Susceptible to human errors
  • Possibility of data duplication
  • Insecure
  • Difficult to retrieve data
  • Highly susceptible to data corruption
  • Insufficient consistency

What are the benefits of converting spreadsheets into applications?

With the power and flexibility of low-code platforms, converting spreadsheets into web applications is relatively straightforward; simply importing a file into the low-code platform and using the intuitive functionality of the platform to generate a user-friendly app. Online spreadsheet databases simply provide a much more logical and flexible method for managing lists and critical data in this era of cloud and mobile computing.

One of the biggest benefits of creating a web-based database application is that more than one person can easily access and update a database or file, simultaneously or not. Having one central hub removes the possibility of people generating duplicate spreadsheets and updating them independently; a scenario that could have multiple implications such as data not being entered into the main spreadsheet making the point of collaboration redundant.

Data duplication within spreadsheets is another common issue. Redundant data can often be left in and get out of sync, eventually displaying multiple variations of the same entry, such as a customer’s address. An online application will remove this scenario as the details will be edited within the defined fields and a date stamp provided. It also ensures data integrity and data validation as nobody can accidentally use the ‘sort’ function on one column whilst not applying it to others.

Building a bespoke application can also help businesses enforce business rules for the management and usage of data, therefore enabling them to adhere to compliance regulations. The data held within the applications can be audited much easier and support modelling much better than spreadsheets.

Reports can be easily generated and distributed to the relevant people, whereas it can be fairly difficult to extract and interrogate the information when it is held in a spreadsheet, especially multiple spreadsheets. If an employee or department wants or needs to present the information in a spreadsheet, and/or edit the data for a one-off project, then the information can easily be exported to the correct file format.

Security, remote working and integration

Converting spreadsheets into web applications can provide a much higher level of security and control over the data that resides in it, which is essential if it is sensitive and crucial in combating data breaches. Spreadsheets are inherently insecure, especially if they are distributed around multiple people or the USB stick containing the information gets lost in transit. An application can apply multiple levels of security access depending on the nature of the data.

An application also addresses the issue of remote working as employees will be able to access the database on any device, in any location. With a usable and flexible front-end, users will be able to update information easily and have instantaneous access to the data.

Utilising an online database application provides the ability to integrate it with any other business or back office system. The information held within the application can then be easily shared with accounting, CRM, eCommerce, ERP or warehouse management systems. Data integration also provides the foundation for implementing and automating workflow and authorisation procedures. Any task or action required can trigger a notification or workflow process from within an application to the relevant member of staff, whether this is to update a record or authorise a change in data.

Benefits at a glance:
  • One central database holding all information
  • Easily accessible by multiple users
  • Removal of duplicate data and spreadsheets
  • Enforce business rules for data usage
  • Easily generate reports
  • Improved security and compliance
  • Ability to integrate with other business systems
  • Scalable and flexible to change with business needs

Discover Applications Platform – a powerful low-code platform

Low-code rapid application development has shaken up the way businesses think about purchasing business software. The option to not only build an application that fits 100% of requirements rapidly, but has the ability to modify and adapt equally as quick, is a refreshing alternative to the traditional procurement of business systems.

Applications Platform makes the entire process of developing, deploying and managing applications simple. User interfaces can be generated automatically, freeing up resources to concentrate on building the actual application.

To learn more about Applications Platform and how to convert spreadsheets into web applications, please contact us via +44 (0)330 99 800 50 or email