Why a Software Package Isn’t Necessarily Better Than Your Spreadsheet

OK, before I get every software developer and salesperson on my back, let me just put in a disclaimer. There is obviously a need for business software, and spreadsheets can’t do everything that programmed software can, however spreadsheets can achieve more than most people think. Software companies will often bad-mouth spreadsheets, and make you feel they can’t do the job, so that you’re scared into buying their software. I would like to put a counter-opinion forward – why spreadsheets are sometimes actually better than programmed software. Here are a few reasons.

Automation and transparency.

People often move from spreadsheets to software, because software is more automated. We want a time tracker which links with invoices, which links with accounting software, which communicates with HMRC. Is this just because we don’t want extra work, or is it because we actually don’t want the responsibility? Why exactly can’t spreadsheets do this? If your spreadsheets are not compatible with each other, then that can be addressed; it is not a reason to move to software. The spreadsheets I use are all compatible, and work in conjunction with each other. The difference is that I can see what the spreadsheet is doing. The process is transparent. The formulas do the work, so it is automated but I can see what has been done. Why is this important? I run the business, I need to know what is being done, but I don’t necessarily want to do the work. With programmed software packages, they automatically make decisions, process the work, and spit out the result. Do you know what has actually been done? If not, maybe your spreadsheet is better.


I hear this so often. Client’s say, “I tried so many different software packages, but have come to you because they don’t do exactly what I want”. Why buy something that sort of does the job, when you can have something that does what you want. If you make your own spreadsheets, then you can make them do what you want, the way you want it done. If you can’t achieve this, then chat to me. When you expand or upgrade, and you want the software to do more, can you just upgrade it? If not, then maybe using a spreadsheet is best for you. I can adapt those as required relatively easily.

Ease of Use.

Is the software you use simple to understand? If you’re confused by it, maybe your spreadsheet is the better choice. When I make spreadsheets, I make them easy to use. You fill in what you need to fill in, where it makes most sense to do so. I’m assuming that the spreadsheets you make are like this too. Software is made for various users, and does not always work for the individual, and can often be confusing. Yes, writing formulas can be tricky but once the spreadsheets are made, they are relatively easy to use.


If you buy a run-of-the-mill, stock standard software package, it may be reasonable. If you need bespoke software, trust me, the price will not be cheap. If you make your own spreadsheet, it costs you only time. If you get someone like me to make it, it will cost you some money, but small change compared to purpose-built programmed software. Do you need to spend enormous amounts of money on custom software if spreadsheets can do the job?

While I sit back and wait for the onslaught of abuse by software developers, I’ll leave you to think about this. If you’re using spreadsheets but feel pressured to use programmed software, I’m here to say that you may not need to make that choice. Yes, there may be a reason why you need programmed software, but you often don’t. If your spreadsheets don’t cut it anymore, it may be better to upgrade them, rather than move to something else. If you can’t make the kind of spreadsheets you need, I may be able to help. If you’d like to chat, please feel free to get in touch.

Creating business solutions through custom spreadsheets.


In order to inspire business owners like you to use Excel as business software, we made a documentary on a cricket game which we made, to show you what is Excel is capable of. Whether or not you like cricket is not point of this video, the point is to think outside the box, and to imagine what business solutions are possible using a tool like this. Take a look at what we have done using a macro free spreadsheet, and think about what would be possible for your business. What software solutions do you need? If we can make this, surely we can create a solution for you.

If this inspires you to think of solutions you need, please get in touch. We always like to hear about ways that we can help businesses to achieve more and be more productive.