CMMS vs. Spreadsheets
Microsoft Excel is handy, it’s probably right there on your desktop – just waiting to be booted up. So, it’s no wonder that companies default to Excel when they need to manage data or start keeping records. If they knew the advantages of a CMMS vs. spreadsheets, they might think twice.
At Ashcom Technologies, we’ve had plenty of customers turn to us after giving up on managing their maintenance department via Excel spreadsheets, and they’ll tell you the same thing we will:
Excel will work – but not well.
Writing simple formulas or creating a budget in Excel is a breeze. Beyond that, Excel can be an absolute disaster.
Do a quick Google search on Excel business errors and you’ll find countless accounts of Excel costing companies billions. Yes, billions.
There’s even a non-profit organization called European Spreadsheet Risks Interest Group that exists solely to mitigate the inherent risks of utilizing spreadsheets. They have a page on their website titled “Horror Stories” which is a lengthy list of notably disastrous Excel mistakes.
Needless to say, the room for error when using spreadsheets is incredibly high. An article by Forbes led with the title, “Microsoft Excel Might Be The Most Dangerous Software On The Planet.”
Spreadsheets are Not Built for Maintenance Data
This article goes on to describe how Excel and the world of finance have been tied for decades. And if you notice, most of the above errors are accounting related. One reason why is that big dollar discrepancies make news, but also because Excel has been designed with finances in mind.
Maintenance management is a far cry from finance. If finance errors are a common occurrence in a program specifically built to handle them, what mistakes will arise when that program is used for maintenance data?
We’ve all had the experience of Excel auto-formatting information we did NOT want formatted. Those part numbers you entered? Yeah, Excel thinks that’s November 23rd, 1906.
Maintenance management software, such as a CMMS, isn’t built with just data management in mind, it’s designed to service entire organizations with the maintenance department acting as the hub. For a more comprehensive list of CMMS benefits check out our article, Big Picture Benefits of a CMMS.
Let’s take for example creating and finishing a simple work order in a CMMS. You can track every aspect: the parts used, your company’s parts inventory, which vendor the parts came from, which machine the parts were used on, the location of the machine, how often that machine has been serviced, who serviced it, and how many hours they worked that week.
In order to communicate that story, you’d need a stack of spreadsheets that would make Herman Melville blush.
Once you have your pile of spreadsheets, analyzing that data and pulling relevant information would be, to put it politely, time-consuming.
If you’re a maintenance tech, time is your biggest resource and most likely there’s not enough of it to bother analyzing data – you need to get to the next project. But by disregarding data, you’re costing yourself more time in the future.
Relevant maintenance data is just more easily communicated via a CMMS than a spreadsheet. Most CMMS software will supply you with reports that will undoubtedly make your maintenance operations a smarter, more efficient machine. Reports that will show you “all open work orders” or “upcoming scheduled preventative maintenance.”
These reports are possible because of a CMMS’ ability to store historical information, information that a spreadsheet is just simply not designed to communicate or store effectively.
Another reason that spreadsheets are less than ideal is that most organizations have a designated “excel expert” who sets up the spreadsheets and enters the data. If this person leaves, so does all the knowledge behind the inner workings of the spreadsheet.
The 6 Reasons Why Spreadsheets Will Drive Your Maintenance Team Nuts
So, if you’re keeping score at home, here are the reasons NOT to use Excel for your maintenance management:
- Insanely high room for error.
- Not designed to track maintenance related information.
- Not designed to track historical data.
- Time-consuming and labor-intensive.
- Difficult to analyze data.
- Storing data is cumbersome.
Look, spreadsheets are powerful enough to track your grocery budget or track information about small projects but please, if you love your maintenance department – ditch the spreadsheets and move to a CMMS.
Written by Steven Garcia