A collectiive gasp from the room when I declare that excel should be banned for used beyond managing a household budget. Engineers love their excel spreadsheets. For everything. Cost control, budget management, scheduling projects, budgeting weddings (pointless!), organising camping trips and everything in between. While managing a small budget is straightforward in Excel, the problems creep in for larger projects or in multi-user environments. Files regularly get corrupted, incorrect information is entered and the data is compromised. Most of those who are pro-excel readily agree that there are (many) faults with Excel, they also display a strong reluctance to consider changing to another solution.
In a project I worked on last year, I data-mined, managed and analysed 4000 invoices, using an automated tool I developed (Read more here). Prior to my involvement, the data was being manually entered into an excel spreadsheet as well as SAP and Prism (a cost management tool). The data was being triple-handled with no value for the data owners, just multiple manual processes. During a project meeting, there was a lively discussion as to whether there was an issue with their payment of suppliers as a number of payments were over 100 days before being processed and no one could access any information to establish what the situation was. Using the data structure I had set up, I was able to build a specific query to establish invoice issue dates against payment dates and identify that the supplier was issuing the invoices almost 90 days after works were completed and the delay sat with them not my client. This might sound relatively simply but there were 8 people in a room discussing this very point at length and a lack of visibility across the data they were capturing (3 times!) meant they couldn't establish a quick answer.
Excel should be, at best, a desktop tool for quick sums, analysis etc but should not be the backbone of a project or cost management tool. It is easily corruptible, prone to human-error and inflexible for details analysis.
It's time to say goodbye to excel, the next generation is here.