With the new gas extraction technologies that have emerged over the past few years, Neuco is experiencing breakneck growth. In their original business process, the foreman in the field filled out a 2-sided paper form detailing what crew did that day.
That got sent in to the main office where someone typed it into a several spreadsheets. Once that was deciphered and refined, a process that only 2 or 3 key people could do, another person then reentered the data into the accounting system so it could be billed. It took them weeks to prepare an invoice after a project completed.
The process was time consuming, very error prone, and management had a difficult time knowing what was going on in any given project.
Valuable data was spread across multiple spreadsheets making any type of reporting either impossible or very cumbersome at best.
Using Excel as a Database
Spreadsheets are great tools. They allow us to put together columns of numbers with labels, do summations, complex calculations, data analysis and forecasting. They can even produce pretty graphs! But what they’re not good at is storing data, managing the relationships between that data and getting critical business intelligence to the right person in the organization.
A trend we see is that creative corporate employees cobble together IT solutions based on tools they are familiar with such as Excel, Word and Access. Why? If you don’t have a dedicated IT department people will use tools they are familiar with to solve their data collection problems. Left to their own devices, creative non-IT employees *will* create a solution, albeit a not so well designed solution.
These solutions are adequate in the beginning when there’s very little data and they solve an immediate problem. But over time, as the amount of data grows and the differing needs of the organization grow, these homegrown solutions no longer meet the needs of the organization as a whole. They become increasingly difficult to work with and become downright unwieldy. At some point in time they become a hindrance to the growth of the organization. And this is exactly what happened at Neuco. Something had to change.