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Spreadsheets – A waste data time sink

In a recent blog the comparative benefits of using software tools specifically designed for construction industry data collection instead of a standard spreadsheet were highlighted. It was immediately evident that software tools provide greater security, precision, support and integration, and above all else, they save time (and therefore money!).

A recent study of BRE’s SmartWaste tool found that Canary Wharf Contractors were now saving a whole working day a month compared to using traditional data spreadsheet methods.

Why is it spreadsheets require so much more time when managing environmental data?

  1. One location

The most up-to-date spreadsheet will be held as a document on a hard drive, therefore the latest version can only be opened and amended on one device at a time to avoid duplication and lost data inputs. This results in spreadsheets having to be sent around and constantly tracked to ensure the most up-to-date version is in use.

The location of spreadsheets on a hard drive also removes the ability to remotely add live data, meaning data collected on-site by hand or on a separate spreadsheet would subsequently need to be put into the ‘master’ spreadsheet. That, or the document is not editable by other users for the extent of on-site live data additions (see below).

  1. One user

Similar to above, the presence of only one editable latest version of a spreadsheet results in individuals waiting on receiving the most up to date document before inputting and manipulating data. This wastes time and results in individuals having to work around the usage of others.

  1. Collation

Ensuring all data is up to date and in the correct format can take a considerable amount of time when the fields and boundaries aren’t defined. The freedom of the format of data entry into a spreadsheet can lead to typos, difference in measurement scale and incomplete data entry.

  1. Transfer

Excel doesn’t integrate well with other tools/programmes making the use of collected data in management software time consuming due to manual transfer.

These are just a few of the reasons spreadsheets can use up valuable time and make effective environmental management a considerably more difficult task.

For more information on the other benefits of specific environmental management tools read our earlier blog comparing spreadsheets and software.