10 Ways Spreadsheets Fall Short For Retrofit Projects

Jeff Seifert | Apr 28, '23


As a business owner, you understand the value of a dollar. While there will always be someone trying to sell you on the “latest and greatest” or some new bells and whistles, you need a pretty compelling reason to change what you’re doing, especially when you’ve got a solution that works.

It’s this line of thinking that accounts for why many auditors still rely on spreadsheets to complete their work. But while spreadsheets might seem like the most inexpensive solution, on closer inspection, you might be surprised to discover they come with plenty of costs of their own, both in terms of your time and your money.

To explain what we mean, here are 10 reasons your spreadsheets cost you far more than you think.

#1: For Retrofit Projects, There’s No Such Thing as “One Size Fits All”

You probably realized early in your career that no two retrofit projects are exactly alike. In this business, there are always surprises, and you’ve learned to be adaptable as a result.

Your spreadsheets, however, aren’t quite so flexible. If you’re having to spend time on each retrofit updating, reworking, or even reinventing your spreadsheet templates to suit the needs of the job at hand, then those spreadsheets are costing you valuable time. Wouldn’t you be better served by a tool that can rise to every occasion?

#2: Spreadsheets Are Hard to Use in the Field

When you’re out in the field, entering data directly into your spreadsheets can be a pain. No wonder most retrofitters end up relying on pen and paper when they’re on-site, capturing data by hand only to enter it into a spreadsheet sometime in the future. Does any of that help your productivity?

Of course not. Consider, too, that this transcription process also introduces more opportunity for error, so why do it at all? Those errors cost time and money to fix. It would be better to use a tool designed for use in the field.

#3: Spreadsheets Don’t Get Smarter

Refining your spreadsheet templates can be a tedious process of trial and error. Wouldn’t it be nice if they could refine themselves instead?

For some tools, that’s not as farfetched as it sounds. Retrofit software like SnapCount is constantly evolving based on feedback from users. These folks have put hundreds of thousands of usage hours into SnapCount, working on thousands of retrofit projects. All that intelligence is then applied to make SnapCount better and smarter.

#4: Multiple Users Mean Chaos in Your Spreadsheets

Are you the only person who touches your spreadsheets? Chances are the answer is no. But if you have multiple users adding data to the same spreadsheets, it becomes difficult to know who made changes or even to define a clear source of truth.

This lack of transparency can introduce errors that lead to expensive problems down the road. You need a tool that lets you keep the productivity benefits of multiple users without losing important accountability.

#5: Time Spent in Excel Is Less Time You Can Sell

Every day, you must prioritize between work that earns money and work that doesn’t. Ideally, you’re able to optimize operations to increase more of the former.

Unfortunately, that doesn’t include working on spreadsheets. The time and attention you’re required to spend on your spreadsheets is less time you can go out and sell. That could be costing you money — and opening a window of opportunity to your competitors.

#6: Spreadsheets Don’t Play Well With Others

If you’re using spreadsheets to capture data, you could be hindering your ability to plug in. Spreadsheets don’t integrate well into industry and partner content or workflows, and they don’t connect you with important information like utility rebates and product data.

Why use a digital tool that doesn’t play well with others? You need one designed for easy integration with the workflows and data you need.

#7: Spreadsheets Look Less Professional

Your brand is a lot bigger than your logo or website design. Your brand is the sum of every touchpoint and experience you create for your customers. If you’re using templated spreadsheets as part of your process, you’re missing an opportunity to make an impression.

The right software tool allows you to put a professional face on every piece of documentation you create, from the initial quote to the completed project invoice. And by getting the small details just right, you make a bigger impression on the people you serve.

#8: More Spreadsheets Mean More Errors

The benefit of a digital tool is the extent to which it eliminates human error while making you more efficient. On both counts, spreadsheets just don’t pass muster.

We’ve already mentioned that spreadsheets don’t integrate with external partner workflows. But they don’t always integrate easily into your own systems, either. This means that even when you’re working within your own systems, you’ll have to spend more time on manual input, which can easily generate expensive errors. And the more spreadsheets you have? The more chances for a mistake.

#9: Spreadsheets Limit Your Growth

It might seem as though spreadsheets are “good enough” for your business today, but what about tomorrow? If your business is growing, are spreadsheets the right tool to support you?

As you take on more customers and add people to your staff, inefficient tools like spreadsheets are going to slow down your ability to scale. You need software designed to make projects as efficient as possible, with a simple onboarding process designed to help your new hires hit the ground running.

#10: Data Doesn’t Belong in a Spreadsheet

In an era when cyberattacks are more frequent and expensive than ever, you can’t afford to store data in unsecured digital files. Spreadsheets are too vulnerable to a potential data breach, and that puts your customer information at risk.

But there’s another reason your data doesn’t belong in a spreadsheet, and that’s the value it contains as business intelligence. Each piece of data you collect can help you make smarter business decisions. The trick is that you need that data to be able to access and analyze it. Spreadsheets don’t give you those tools, but good retrofit software can.

Don’t Let “Free” Chip Away Your Profits

On their surface, spreadsheets seem like an easy, free tool for conducting a retrofit project. But as we’ve just seen, their limitations can end up costing you more time and money than you might realize. Fortunately, there are good alternatives. Retrofit software like SnapCount is specifically designed as a tool to help you complete your projects with maximum efficiency. It’s a smart investment that pays some great dividends for your business.

Discover the True Cost of "Free Retrofit Tools

Jeff Seifert

Written by Jeff Seifert

Jeff is passionate about helping lighting and energy retrofit organizations accelerate and optimize their operations. Jeff is responsible for the sales, marketing and business development activities of StreamLinx, including client engagement, assessments and deployment initiation. Jeff’s background includes 27 years in software, process automation and consulting. During his career, he has helped companies large and small optimize their performance by leveraging digital methods, advanced analytics and business process automation.

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