Imagine the given scenario for your business- you have a massive project, and you are tracking the annual budget of the sales department of your company on a spreadsheet. You have invested time and effort in creating an extensive network of spreadsheets. It has links to other spreadsheets along with stylish charts, auto calculations, lookup formulas, and several different tabs. The spreadsheet looks excellent, and just a few days before you are going to make some crucial decisions for the business, it crashes!
It is evident that you had pushed your spreadsheets beyond their limits, and this is why you lost two years of crucial fiscal data that you cannot recover now as the files are full of corrupted data. IT managers and experienced DBAs state that though spreadsheets are excellent for keeping simple data, what they cannot handle is sophisticated. With all the burdens of lookup formulas, charts, multiple tabs, etc., you had taxed them way beyond their capacity. This is where you should have invested in a suitable database system to have collected and stored your data so that it could have been accessed by you or anyone else with ease!
Understand the advantages and the disadvantages of spreadsheets
As mentioned above, spreadsheets do have amazing features like automatic calculations, stylish graphs, and charts, pivot tables, and more You can even use the convenient and straightforward sorting and filtering options and the format as table feature to spice up dull-looking data. They are preferred by businesses primarily because they are great for analyzing large volumes of data in one place. They are flexible and simple for everyone to use. They have become the most widely sought-after tool for multiple businesses when it comes to the storage and the analysis of information crucial for the organization.
From the above, it is evident that spreadsheets are crucial for storing data; however, they have some grave drawbacks that you should never ignore. Experienced professionals from popular database administration and management company, RemoteDBA.com, say that spreadsheets might be good for the business; however, they are not suited for long term use. They cannot be used for the storage of data. They give you simple options for queries and cannot guard the integrity of the data. Moreover, they offer little or completely no protection from the corruption of data.
Switch to databases- the right tool for data collection and storage
The database is like the spreadsheet, and in simple terms, it is a collection of tables organized in rows and columns like a spreadsheet. The RDMS or the relational database management system uniforms the method the way data of the organization is processed and stored. The tables of these database systems logically store information when it comes to providing data integrity, reducing irregularities, and decreasing duplication.
You will be able to reduce a lot of issues if you invest in the time to consider the project parameters before beginning. The following are some critical things for you to note before you decide to transfer the present data from a spreadsheet to a new database-
User access- When multiple people need to access data, it makes sense to switch from a spreadsheet to a database. For instance, if your company still uses a spreadsheet, you give your team a week to update the spreadsheet data. There will always be a section of procrastinators that will attempt to update their spreadsheets just 30 minutes ahead of the deadline. This means your spreadsheet will be loaded with many error messages that say locked for editing. If you switch to a database for the above task, you can do away with these problems. This means multiple users can do the edits they need can be done at any time without affecting the functionality of the system.
Scope- The spreadsheet is fantastic for tracking simple lists for your organization; however, if this list grows, it will become hard for you to manage over time. Opting for a database is an excellent idea if you are targeting long-term data storage and subject to frequent changes. This means if your spreadsheet has over 100 rows or 20 columns, it makes sense to invest in a good database for your business.
Queries and reports- If face issues when it comes to querying particular datasets for organizational reports, the database is the right solution. When you create a spreadsheet, you can format and arrange the data to get the report that you need when in print. In a database, you will find that the features for reporting and data are not the same. They are separate, and they permit you to generate many reports with similar data.
For instance, your company management might wish to see the organization’s sales records for the quarter, and the program manager needs reports for the yearly sales for her area. You can get different reports from the same data. This means you do not have to copy and paste the data you need. You save time and effort as you do not have to create different spreadsheets for different needs. Formats can be created from the same source.
The data integrity- You do not have to worry about data duplication when you stop using spreadsheets. You can save space and the data all in one place. There are no risks of outdated and duplicated versions of the report.
Last but not least, note that databases and spreadsheets are not exclusive mutually. Just because you get a database does not mean you need to discard a spreadsheet. Both of them are required for a business – you can store all your data in the database, and for the creation of advanced reports, you can bank on spreadsheets. Besides this, reports and queries from the database can be easily exported to Microsoft spreadsheets for regular analysis.
Selecting the right database is important. Study and analyze what you need and based on that make your selection. Get the help of a professional if you are not sure how to go about it.