Tools Are Wonderful When You Use the Right One: Lessons from A Chemical Company (Ditching Excel)

hammer.jpgExcel is a nice tool. It’s easy to use, simple and works pretty well right out of the box. This is part of the problem. So many of YOU (well in fairness – us) use Excel for just about everything. I know it’s hard to change our old ways and frankly its easier to keep doing what we’ve been used to doing than to learn how to use a new tool.
However, sometimes, that’s precisely what we need. Use a new tool Let me share this story with you.
Monterey AgResources, based in Fresno, produces agricultural chemicals and nutrients, a process involving many steps from the early phases of R&D, through trials, warehousing, packaging and finally selling. Most of these moving parts hinge on external partners, such as chemists, marketers, compliance specialists and suppliers – managing this process with Excel became impossible.
It became even more unbearable after a $6,500 mistake payment went to a vendor.

Instead of Excel, AgResources now creates and manages projects over the Web in a communal environment, using a solution called Clarizen. Clarizen is available not only to internal team members, but also outside parties (like the chemists) who can login anytime, anywhere to update progress. Clarizen also features a Wiki-like notes section for real-time discussion.
Clarizen is but one of many project management tools that you really should consider instead of toiling away in Excel all day long. YOU THINK you’re doing just fine with Excel but you really don’t know what you’re missing until you take the time to use the right tool for the right job.
What’s your experience about moving from Excel to another tool. Send it to me (via the comment form – so others can benefit) and I’ll send one of those who comment a complimentary ticket to the Third Annual Small Business Summit 2008 (it’s in NYC on February 11, 2008)