On the surface, Excel and (gasp!) paper, are easy targets. While society has largely gone paper-less, multi-unit operators now collect more data-points about their locations than ever before.
The following scenario is not uncommon. An Excel, Word or PDF template is distributed and filled-out at store level. Is Excel the best tool to collect, action and report on this vast amount of data?
It does not have to be that way. There are mobile tools and technology available. Operators who consider reliability gains, productivity gains and the value of the information being collected, simply abandon Excel, period.
Can you do THAT with Excel?
Excel is a very capable spreadsheet program. It was not designed for checklists. Can you do the following with Excel?
- Can you distribute specific forms to specific users, in real time?
- Is is easy to complete a visit using an excel spreadsheet on your phone, tablet or PC? Can you attach photos? Can you see details of previous visits? Can you include signatures and attachments?
- Is the visit score automatically calculated?
- Are you able to automatically check on the status of deficiencies noted? Were they addressed? When and by whom? Do you have photographic evidence?
- Are you able to compile this visit and all other visits in a consolidated view so you can see patterns by operator, region and other segments? Do repeat unacceptables clearly jump out?
Automation is not a silver bullet, just cheaper and more effective
Automation is not a silver bullet. Don’t automate, just because you can. However, when considering the actual and opportunity costs of using Excel for store checklists and brand standards, most retailers find that they are slow, labor-intensive and error-prone. They also deprive the organization of the real-time analytics it needs to make informed business decisions.
Don’t let Excel hold you back.