How much time do asset managers waste on spreadsheets?

Spreadsheet work is busy work. People spend days, weeks or even months working on their spreadsheets. Creating and running important spreadsheets is hard work and takes a long time. But much of that time is wasted.

How can asset management software compliment Excel?

Microsoft Excel is a widely used tool across many different industries. 90% of businesses use spreadsheets at some capacity or another. In the Renewable Energy asset management industry, we estimate that 75% of asset managers still use Excel to manage the operations of their assets, despite the fact that there are better solutions available in the market place.

If it works, why move to another system? While Excel works to some extent it’s not designed to act as a central database for multiple projects. It’s not really meant for multiple people to use at the same time and as a result, prone to errors. It may be sufficient if you are running a few projects but will become a problem as your portfolio grows. 

Here are 5 reasons why asset managers do not like working in Excel:

1. Reliability issues
Excel is a great tool but is it enough to run your business off of it? How do you ensure that the right people have access to the right information at any time? How do you make sure that the data entry was validated? That it is in the correct version of Excel to be backward compatible with an old data source? How about accidental data deletion? Corrupted files? Copy paste errors?
Cloud based asset management solutions avoid all that.

2. One version of the truth
Excel files are notoriously easy to save, resave, overwrite, move, copy, send, etc. With all of these versions moving across your organization how do you make sure you are using the latest and greatest version? How do you know that you have updated the latest version? Or that you’ve taken accurate information from an older version?

3. Did you send that spreadsheet to a client with too much or too little information?
What happens when two people edit the spreadsheet simultaneously and start circulating two different versions of the same file. Centralized systems can help organize and catalogue information and ensure that only authorized users see what they need. 

4. Information is often tied to one person.
An Excel sheet can hold all the answers, but it soon becomes bloated with hundreds of rows and multiple tabs. It is also quite cumbersome to the one person who is the administrator of that file, and thus becomes the central point of contact for any and all inquiries. What happens when the administrator goes on vacation or, even worse, switches groups or leaves the company? Everything is lost. And then you’re left starting from scratch, only to re-start the vicious cycle with some other Excel administrator.
Proper asset management software is simple and straightforward. Information is recorded and displayed in a way that everyone can understand. You’ll enjoy it the next time you can take a vacation without being bothered about why a macro doesn’t work or how to modify a formula!

5. How do you keep it updated?

Excel for all its power requires constant manual updates. I have seen countless models, trackers, forecasts, etc. that all became stale because they weren’t updated. Data entry in Excel is often a manual process that can lead to import errors or typos. Which can all lead to wrong conclusions or bloated quality assurance process. When dealing with data, automation and centralization is the only way to make sure your data is up to date and trust worthy.
In essence, your business is too valuable to be trusted to Excel.

This is the one of a series of articles, where we take a look at how energy companies can boost their performances through digital energy. In this series we will discuss:

  • New revenue opportunities in the digital energy era
  • Main struggles with energy monitoring and management software
  • Vertical all in one solutions Vs. Building your own energy software

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