Are Excel Spreadsheets Still Relevant?

by Katie Sawyer, 3 minutes read
HOME blog are excel spreadsheets still relevant

Yes, spreadsheets are still relevant — but not if you manage shift workers.

Simple to-do lists, vacation plans, or even a crafty budget. There are lots of ways you can use a spreadsheet.

But as a manager, spreadsheets aren’t hip — or even practical. Staff requesting holiday, last-minute shift cancellations, and new company policies. On top of that, you need to manage compliance, keep costs low, and minimize overtime worked.

Your spreadsheet might work with one, two, or even three staff. More than that and you’re setting yourself up for big headaches and a whole lot of time-wasting. Read on to learn why Excel spreadsheets aren’t as relevant as you think.

Compliance isn’t done on a spreadsheet

As a manager of a fast food joint, serving up a quick meal isn’t the only thing that’s hot. Ensuring accurate pay rates, advanced notice of schedules, and the right overtime pay is critical.

And while scheduling staff on a spreadsheet seems like a quick win, complicated compliance and accurate record keeping can become a chore.

For Nursewatch, Australia’s premier nursing and home care provider, compliance is important. In fact, founder and director Kate Spurway (RN, EMBA, APNA, MACN), is an auditor and used to work for the Department of Health.

“Part of our key performance indicators is referrals, if there’s a clinical piece,” says Kate. “Our staff will write in the notes, wearing slippers today, podiatrist referral required. As an auditor, I need to look at those. Because at the risk and quality compliance meeting, there would be data saying this month has been two referrals to podiatrists. I then look at their files. All of that is marked as a task in our app.”

Whether you’re looking to automate wage calculations or create task records, spreadsheets can lead to errors and mitigate compliance.

Accountability requires flexibility

One of the best things about spreadsheets is the ability to create formulas for quick, automated adjustments.

But what’s the formula for a last-minute schedule change, empty shifts, or advanced notice?

For Alison Avron, director of Newsagency, a music venue in Sydney, Australia, she needed something that would let her staff pick up extra shifts when they want them. Spreadsheets were too messy, too complicated, and too unreliable.

So she found an app that could manage all of that scheduling for her.

“To create an open shift, all I have to do is open up the date, create the time it is, and then publish it so my staff can claim it,” explains Alison.

And her employees love the feature just as much as Alison. When they want to pick up extra shifts, they have an easy way to claim shifts that fit with their lives.

Your single source of truth needs to be trustworthy

As a manager, you need to know who is working where, what their hourly wage is, and what that’s going to cost your business. On top of that, you’re trying to predict your staffing requirements based on trends in sales, delivery orders, appointments, and other demand signals.

Unfortunately, your spreadsheet isn’t that nimble. And it can’t be trusted to predict your requirements.

Founded to create a “luxury hybrid hotel for today’s modern travelers,” citizenM is in a class of its own. With 19 hotels across three continents — and 17 more hotels under development — citizenM consistently provides best-in-class customer service.

But when they were using spreadsheets to manage scheduling and time and attendance, it was anything but best-in-class.

“We had one person who had to look after the scheduling,” says hotel manager Cristina Ciupitu. “And we also had a different spreadsheet for each area – like scheduling, holidays and payroll. There was a lot of friction created by people requesting days off or shift swaps.”

On top of that, the team wasn’t confident that everyone was looking at the most up-to-date version.

Once they switched to a workforce management solution, they ditched the Excel spreadsheets and found the source of truth they had been looking for.

Keep everyone in the loop

With work scheduling and people management, in-built communication tools allow you to keep everyone in the loop and up-to-date.

You can allocate shifts, broadcast news or special events, assign tasks, and share work schedules which your employees can confirm with a click. It’s all online and fully accessible via everyone’s mobile devices.

Giving your staff an easy way to keep in the loop and contribute to the workplace conversation can only help improve morale and the quality of services you provide. If you're still looking for a Excel spreadsheet alternative, try our Scheduling Template

If you want the best option, Sign up for a free trial of Deputy to see why you should ditch the paperwork.

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