Is Microsoft Excel Still the Best Spreadsheet Software Available? January 21st, 2018
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Microsoft Excel has been the hallmark office software for nearly three decades. Most businesses rely greatly on spreadsheets, and for some time, Excel was the only viable commercial spreadsheet application.
Though Excel retains a firm grasp of the professional world, alternatives like Google Sheets and OpenOffice are picking up steam. Is it worth it to lower costs by switching to a cheaper alternative? It depends on your level of reliance on complexity.
Should You Try Different Spreadsheet Software?
Alternative software has come a long way in replicating the functionality of Excel. Google Sheets boasts a function list that will remain useful in most day-to-day situations. Its functionality also includes the automation of data retrieved from Google AdWords and Analytics. If you work extensively with web data, it’s easy to write functions in Google Sheets that track performance across your company’s online presence.
Open-source alternatives like OpenOffice and Libre Office have also made strides towards mirroring the functionality of Excel. Though these software suites may take some time to fully install across the office, they are completely free and can be modified for the specific demands of your desired workflow.
Sadly, there are no cheaper alternatives to Excel that cover its full range of functionality. Large firms that rely heavily on data analysis, forecasting and verification of business data will likely require the depth and reliability of Excel. Other companies, however, are potentially paying for more than they need.
The Excel Mindset
The popularity of Excel has promoted a sense of spreadsheet dependence in the corporate environment. Many firms in the UK employ spreadsheet specialists from The Excel Experts who spend a great deal of time optimizing lengthy documents. Often, these documents require only basic functionality that’s possible in free alternative software.
The Excel mindset causes problems outside the software as well. Over the course of years relying on Excel, it becomes increasingly unlikely that any true sense of meaning is derived from your spreadsheets. Updates and revision history are hard to track. It’s possible your Excel expert will make mistakes, make important information harder to understand — and will eventually accept a different position, leaving you with spreadsheets that are difficult to piece together.
For companies that don’t rely on the most complex functionality available in Excel, a transition to alternative software could stand as the mark of a change in company culture. Excel continues to shine for companies dealing with large, abstract sets of numbers and accounting and stock control; but companies using Excel for budgeting, project management or scheduling could use alternative software just the same.