A Database solution
Firstly, modern databases are designed from inception to deal with much more data, formulas, and validation processes than spread sheets could ever hope to manage. They even give you warnings when things start to look rocky rather than simply falling over at that crucial moment.
Enterprise designed databases let you create user profiles that let you set access at a field-by-field level and let you set different views for different users. No need to password protect things or hide certain sections, everything is done in design rather than after the fact.
Regulators love an audit trail. Databases have them in spade fulls. Every change, who did it and when is trackable. They will even send you emails when something changes that is unexpected or requires a higher level of supervision. Reports are also available, which present the data in an array of formats so that you can see how things look without all the clutter of the rest of the rows and columns.
Portability, in a good sense. Multiple users can access a database and work on different records at the same time. The same is not possible with spread sheets. In contrast to spread sheets, your precious data can’t just be downloaded and dispatched from your building without you setting the parameters.
There is a misguided perception that while spread sheets are the preserve of the common people, databases need expensive administrators and infrastructure to build and support them. This is no longer the case. Modern cloud based databases with clever end user focus can be set up and maintained with minimal knowledge and skill. Vendors realise that you can’t anymore charge hundreds of thousands of pounds for enterprise type databases, in the same that HP and Compaq discovered to IBM’s cost in the late 80s that the prospect of an affordable desktop PC at every work station and in every home was a reality.
So my call to action is to drop spread sheets for all but the most simple processes and adopt databases and put those sleepless nights worrying about Fred’s spread sheet behind you.
Paul Lack is a CF10a for R.J. O’Brien Limited.
For more information, leave a comment below or visit our CASS Director site