Spreadsheets have been a transformational tool for organizations of all types since the row/column technology was introduced way back in 1979. But since then, and even with massive advancements in capabilities and computing power, spreadsheets continue to rely on human input and manual processes. Unfortunately, this invites human error, misplaced formulas, undue file complexity, near-impossible audit trails and version control, and mistakes that can lead to disastrous consequences.
These spreadsheet shortcomings may be avoidable for small manufacturers. But, as you grow beyond a garage workshop and a handful of employees, the need for more stringent control, defined processes, and accurate results is nothing short of imperative. Today, the nonstop pace of cloud innovation has enabled modern, collaborative, connected, and powerful solutions to help manufacturers of all types and sizes deliver better products faster and more efficiently.
Spreadsheet Errors Are Everywhere
Spreadsheets aren’t going away, to be sure. They remain an easy, effective, and ubiquitous tool for quick calculations, fast analysis of large datasets, and straightforward reporting. But, one simple slip of the finger and, bam!, you’re making a bad decision based on an unknown mistake. And, be honest, how often do you find errors in spreadsheet formulas? Or, put another way, how often do you miss errors and plow ahead unaware?
According to academic research, nearly 90% of all spreadsheets contain errors. “In large spreadsheets with thousands of formulas, there will be dozens of undetected errors,” says Ray Panko, professor of IT management at University of Hawaii.
While 90% may seem extreme, it’s not. No organization is immune to these potential errors, and even tiny datasets can invite human error. Take the academic paper authored by two Harvard economists and used to direct global economic policies. A spreadsheet error showed economic decline—the basis for the pair’s arguments on fiscal austerity—when, in fact, the data reflected robust economic growth. The professors apparently made a simple error by selecting just 15 cells instead of the full 20 cells in their data. Just 5 missed cells. Oops.
Oh, and the list goes on:
- A construction company submitted a bid $3 million too low due to a spreadsheet error.
- Cannabusiness juggernaut Canopy Growth had to refile a quarterly statement due to spreadsheet errors that missed nearly $50 million in quarterly losses.
- JP Morgan’s $6 billion “London whale” fiasco was caused by a spreadsheet error.
- The British National Health system pointed to spreadsheet limitations as the cause of underreporting covid cases by nearly half.
These errors, as significant as they seem, also fail to capture the inherent manual inefficiencies of every single spreadsheet operation. The cutting and pasting of data, consolidating and reformatting shared spreadsheets, inability to track changes, collaboration lost in disconnected emails, slow progress, and other efforts all force your teams to spend more and more time simply managing spreadsheets rather than leveraging the intelligence and insights contained within the data.
Moving to Modern Cloud ERP
Spreadsheets offer flexibility and a literal blank sheet, but those are its weaknesses as well. Today’s cloud-based solutions bring simplicity, accuracy, control, and purpose-built capabilities to help you run your manufacturing operations.
“Going from spreadsheets to a cloud ERP lets companies connect people, data, and systems to produce greater collaboration, efficiency, and insight,” says Pat Garrehy, Rootstock Software CEO. “Today, with cloud ERP providing an end-to-end view of data, companies can uncover opportunities to deliver better products faster and more affordably, thus gaining a competitive edge.”
Manufacturers across the spectrum are moving to modernize their approach to ERP using Rootstock Cloud ERP. For example, Pro-Tech, a large snowplow manufacturer, faced challenges from too many spreadsheets, disconnected data, and mountains of manual effort. So, it moved to Rootstock to easily consolidate manufacturing data, gain more accurate inventory data and easier month-end close, and provide faster customer service. Rootstock also helped the company better utilize operational data and reign in rogue production processes.
Another multinational producer relied on spreadsheets to manage inventory across a dozen warehouses, forecast demand, and manage distribution to over 50 countries. Today, with Rootstock Cloud ERP, the company has a single source of truth from which to provide a complete, current, companywide view into inventory and demand.
A medical device supplier upgraded from spreadsheets to Rootstock Cloud ERP to track and trace complete product history. Adding electronic quality management system (EQMS) capabilities further ensured product safety and compliance with FDA regulations.
Many other manufacturers across aerospace, cannabusiness, high tech, and automotive are rising above spreadsheets and using Rootstock Cloud ERP to improve quality, quickly comply with industry regulations, enforce standard operating procedures, gain unprecedented insights into operations, and much more.
It’s Easy to Move Beyond Spreadsheets
The days of monolithic, monstrous ERP systems and implementations are long behind us. Like other cloud-based solutions, Rootstock Cloud ERP takes just a few clicks to get started and can be deployed across your operations in weeks, not years, usually with minimal IT support and a low-code approach that makes for easy customizations. And it gives you the power to finally put spreadsheets in your rearview mirror.