Spreadsheets - Not Even Once

James Shores and his shiny forehead break down the pitfalls of the traditional spreadsheet, and why you need to get out before you get "locked-up".


Hi, I’m James, welcome to Whiteboard Wednesday. We’ve been on a little break, I know you’ve missed us, I’ve certainly missed you.

Today we’re going to talk about Spreadsheets. Not. Even. Once. Don’t do it.

When we get talking to business owners, when they call in or we’re kind of troubleshooting some things, we run into this common theme of business owners that start using a spreadsheet to keep track of their inventory. Whether that’s distribution, manufacturing, even retail.

And it starts out with the same old adage of “…but it’s easy.” And on the onset, it kind of is. You can enter your inventory, your counts, where you’re keeping everything, any other kind of information—you might need batch numbers—things like that.

And it starts out pretty basic, but as you try to add other things, whether your company is growing, or you just realize the need for more information, more data, so you can make better and informed decisions, you’re going to need things like: vendor lists, price breaks, purchase orders, consignment, kitting options. All this kind of stuff that your business may need, so that it can grow and be competitive in its market.

Pretty soon, your spreadsheet ends up doing a little bit of this, where you’re kind of stuck, and you spend more time working on your spreadsheet than on your actual business.

And a lot of it comes back to this game of F-C-E. Find. Count. Enter. You’re looking at your spreadsheet, you’re having to find your inventory, count what it was, and re-enter if it’s an updated number, an updated level.

You’re having to constantly go and physically find your inventory, count it, and then re-enter it into your spreadsheet, and having to account for all the things that maybe you have in that spreadsheet, whether it’s tax percentages, the aisle number, the batch number, you have to keep all that stuff in line and then actually go and find it and not enter in something that’s the wrong number that will then down the line hurt you or cause you to go back later and have to RE-find, count, enter.

This is a common problem that we face with a lot of businesses that we talk to, and like I said, down the line it really ends up wasting a lot of their time and they’re not running their business.

So here at Fishbowl, we’re always advising people “just say NO to the spreadsheet.” Try to find an automated solution that integrates with all of your key software solutions. Whether that’s with QuickBooks, with a lot of the different shipping carriers, so that as soon as you enter information into your software, it’s there, it correlates with all the other uses that you have, for all the other types of integration you may need, because in that way you’re able to focus on your business.

That’s the point of being able to track your inventory, is so that you can keep growing your business, you can stay competitive, you know where things are, and you’re not wasting time. You can get back to work.

So remember: Not. Even. Once.

Thanks, see you again next week.

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