25 Jun The Trouble with Spreadsheets
In the olden days, the IT departments was responsible for developing all systems for their business.
Then, in the 1980s, the PC was introduced, and end-users took it upon themselves to build applications using software such as Lotus 1-2-3 and, more latterly, MS-Excel, MS-Access and the likes.
These tools empowered end-user departments to develop new applications quicker, at lower cost and with functionality that better met their requirements – with minimal, if any reliance, on IT resources. We continue to see this today, though many of these ‘end-user computing applications’ (EUCAs) are becoming larger and more complex, and they often deliver best value when integrated with other business applications.
However, notwithstanding the benefits that EUCAs offer, there are a multitude of drawbacks too and businesses should be wary of how these applications are developed, deployed and managed.
Let’s list some of their problems:
- EUCAs offer limited security functions and are vulnerable to fraud
- EUCAs are susceptible to basic human errors
- EUCAs can be very difficult to manage and troubleshoot
- EUCAs offer limited functions to support collaborative team work
- EUCAs interfaces can be complex or problematic to implement
- EUCAs are difficult to flex and scale to evolving business needs
- EUCAs can easily become non-compliant to regulatory requirements
- EUCAs can create disparate and inconsistent silos of key information
- EUCAs can be very time consuming to build and robustly test
- EUCAs offer limited options for robust version control
- EUCAs are not as easy to use on mobile platforms
Fundamentally, all the above point to one thing: risk!
Don’t get me wrong. I love spreadsheets.
But the fact remains that in today’s fast-paced and ever-changing world, businesses need to apply similar governance and controls to these applications as they do to their core applications (i.e. CRM, Finance, HR, etc).
Well, there are several.
But with the rapid advancements in ‘low-code’ platforms, many of the concerns noted above could become non-issues.
What do I mean by ‘low-code’ platforms?
Well, these platforms have the tools we need to implement powerful, flexible, scalable, integrated and highly-intuitive solutions in rapid time-scales, with limited (if any) programmatic code.
Vendors like OutSystems, Mendix and Kone are perhaps best known for this, but you typically command a budget of 5-6 figures to kick off with!
A strong alternative is ZOHO CREATOR a rapid application development tool that allows relatively non-technical users to develop highly customised, powerful database-driven solutions in the Cloud.
Here are some of its key capabilities:
- Build applications in accelerated timescales: mainly using ‘drag-and-drop’ functions rather than complex code.
- Secure access controls: to ensure data, pages (forms and reports) and system functions are shared based on strict rules oriented around user roles and privileges.
- Automate business processes: configure simple or advanced workflow logic to automate and drive how you work.
- Stay connected on mobile apps: access and update your business data on mobile devices anytime, anyplace and anywhere with Creator’s native iOS and Android apps. You can also instantly capture signatures, scan bar codes, and obtain location details using your mobile device.
- Gain actionable insights: configure highly customised, multi-dimensional reports to sift through volumes of raw data to make meaningful business decisions. Display your data as lists, calendars, summaries, grids, spreadsheets and more.
- Integrate, with ease: Zoho Creator offers a range of pre-built integrations with other Zoho products, as well as many third-party vendor applications.
- Keep your data ‘clean’: run dynamic data entry validation checks and display error messages when erroneous data is entered into your forms.
- Build multi-channel solutions: customize and embed application forms on your websites, blog posts, newsletters and social media pages. Get real-time SMS or email notifications about orders, payments and other transactions in your application.
- Dynamic task management: schedule periodic tasks to send out reports, event invites and reminders.
- Track changes in your applications: see who has changed records and when it happened through record audit.
- Faster and direct record access: sort and filter your data to fetch the information you need without hassle.
- Intuitive and powerful dashboards: build custom dashboards using Pages to monitor your performance indicators from one place.
- Location aware: use geo-fencing to collect data from fellow Creator users within a specific geographic location, like your workspace.
- Mobile solutions: Build one, deploy anywhere. Configure your application to response to touch screen gestures (such as swipes. Deploy to users as a web application OR publish them to to the Apple or Android marketplace
And a whole lot more.
The cost? Zoho Creator starts from only £8 per user per month, which allows you to build up to 50 business applications.
Its a killer app!
To learn more, book a demo with me to explore how Zoho Creator could be used to ease the burden of spreadsheets and help your business work a whole lot smarter.