Is Your Spreadsheet Overweight?


I’ve used databases and spreadsheets for years and have come to appreciate them both. Spreadsheets are perfect for quick data entry and sorting – lists and things. You can just open up the spreadsheet and start inputting the data. But spreadsheets are NOT good for managing large amounts of data – especially a mixture of numbers and alpha-characters.
Databases are the must have tools for managing large amounts of data – creating detailed reports, forms to input the data and complex or simple queries to extrapolate any type of information you want from the data.
I KNOW there’s many of you who are using spreadsheets for data management but you should be using a database. You can create your own database with minimal effort, hire someone to create a database for you or buy one (ACT!, FileMaker Pro, or etc) off the shelf.
FileMaker writes: The love affair between businesses and their spreadsheets is threatened by a weight problem. Excellent in their original use of managing financial and other numerical information, spreadsheets have become overweight as they are used for many tasks and business processes better suited for a database, such as customer information, schedule management, inventory tracking, order management and resource allocation.
To help Microsoft Excel users get the most from their data, FileMaker, Inc.
offers a web-based version of a “data spa” at www.filemaker.com/technologies/excel.html, where users can go and find out when a spreadsheet is “carrying too much weight” and should be converted to a database solution.
The website provides a “Drag, Drop and Go” demo that shows how easily Excel users can convert spreadsheet information into a ready-to-use database by simply dragging a spreadsheet icon onto a FileMaker Pro icon. Also available is a free 16-page guide on using FileMaker Pro together with Excel, written by noted technology author Maria Langer. The web site features tips and techniques for exchanging data between Excel and FileMaker Pro applications, plus everything you need to know to easily transform Excel spreadsheets into rich, powerful solutions that can be customized.
10 Signs That Your Spreadsheet May Be Overweight
There are several indications when a spreadsheet is carrying too much of a
data load and should be converted to a database, including:
1. When you are tracking your customers or managing a contact list and you
would like to send them emails automatically or send letters using address
labels from within the application.
2. When data queries are important
3. When the data needs to be shared with others
4. When data integrity (the need to keep data protected from being changed)
is critical
5. Searching and sorting data without changing the value or formula related
to the data
6. Controlling access to files
7. Publishing data to the web
8. Organizing data that has multiple relationships
9. Whenever more than one person is updating data
10. Organizing large amounts of data
Ryan Rosenberg, vice president of marketing and services, FileMaker, Inc. Spreadsheets can focus on crunching numbers and forecasting for individual users while the rest of a company’s data can get in competitive shape by taking advantage of a database’s capabilities to manage and share multiple types of information.”
“Excel spreadsheets continue to be great for financial information, but spreadsheets become overweight when they are used for handling non-numerical information that should be managed by a database,” said Maria Langer, who has authored several books on Microsoft Excel, FileMaker Pro and Quicken. “FileMaker is an excellent companion to Excel in data applications. In fact, many companies actually use a FileMaker Pro database to store and manage all their spreadsheets.”

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Ramon Ray, Editor & Technology Evangelist, Smallbiztechnology.com . Editor and Founder, Smart Hustle Magazine Full bio at http://www.ramonray.com . Check him out on Google Plus, Twitter or Facebook