In short – it’s nothing personal. We love spreadsheets for a wide range of business activities and even in our personal lives too. But if you need to manage stakeholders – then spreadsheets aren’t the best way to go about it, not only because there are so many benefits to using something specifically tailored to stakeholder management but there are significant risks in continuing to use spreadsheets for stakeholder management.
We know that you might take some convincing, so here are the facts. Here’s why stakeholder management shouldn’t be done through spreadsheets.
We are only human and accidents happen. A mistyped name here, forgetting to update or save a change. However, when it comes to stakeholder management, there can be little room for error and unfortunately, using spreadsheets increases the risk of data errors, duplication and mislaying information. A University study on corporate use of spreadsheets found that 94% of spreadsheets have errors, and that on average there is an error in one out of every 20 cells within a spreadsheet! That’s a compelling figure and quite frightening if you think of the important work you do now that could potentially have troublesome errors laying in wait.
Because spreadsheets lack controls, it is very easy for stakeholders’ views and feedback to be altered, or even deleted permanently. This sort of activity would easily go undetected and creates a window for fraudulent behaviour.
Whilst you might now be the only person managing stakeholders, if your team expanded, this could be something you no longer have sight of.
Sometimes spreadsheets can be easily understood, but what we have found is that many stakeholder engagement managers don’t just have one spreadsheet. There are 10, 20. Alongside this, there are email folders, files on desktops and drives and also meeting notes and printed reports. If you did expand and needed to help show someone how to work in your role, would a new employee be able to take all this information? The best business sense if planning for the future. What works now may not work tomorrow and as projects and businesses grow, it’s never too early to have the right tools to manage stakeholders, whether you are a business of 10 or 10,000.
Stakeholder engagement is not a static process; it is highly dynamic and evolves over time as requirements, perceptions and attitudes change. Spreadsheets, on the other hand, are very one dimensional and rigid.
As spreadsheets become more complex to keep up with changing demands, they, in turn, become harder to manage, and more likely to breakdown. Time and money are wasted trying to keep the process afloat and when you add multiple teams or agencies into the mix, it becomes very hard to get a real sense of what is happening.
Excel protection isn’t a security feature. Protection is meant to prevent well-meaning users from accidentally damaging your work. However, this feature, if you use it, won’t protect sensitive and confidential data from falling into the wrong hands. Anyone can copy data from a protected Excel sheet into another workbook or even Google Sheets to access protected data. Excel protection is lost once data is copied somewhere else. The average data breach costs companies £3.04 million, according to the “2018 Cost of a Data Breach Study” – up 6.4% from 2017
It is estimated that approximately 50% of stakeholder engagement management time is wasted on repetitive tasks such as data mining and gathering reports. If you’ve ever got stuck with pivot tables and somehow your formulas have all broken – you’ll know when something goes wrong, it can go very wrong. In contrast, specific stakeholder management software allows you to pull insights and reports out in seconds – or even to have them delivered by email across the company on demand.
By relying on spreadsheets, word documents and various communication tools to meet data privacy regulations, it is virtually impossible to maintain this information and be compliant. In the case of spreadsheets, for example, the file needs to be updated in every instance where the document exists. Sharing data via spreadsheet files means that there will often be several versions of the same file, sometimes residing on several different machines. To make updates, all of these versions need to be revised with the same information or else they will be out of sync. This will degrade the level of accuracy of the data, and therefore the confidence and trust in that data will be lost.
This showed some of the problems you may be facing by using spreadsheets to handle stakeholder information.
Moving to stakeholder management software is the next logical step.
When it comes to your data, everything is safe and secure and GDPR compliant.
Multiple team members are no problem – and everyone works on the live, freshest information. In fact, anyone can pull out reports. This doesn’t mean your job is redundant – in fact, becoming a master of Tractivity is an incredible business skill to offer as you then become able to pull out even more valuable insights and organise the dashboards as you see fit.
Tractivity offers real value not only removing the time spent on laborious manual tasks, but also by helping ensure you aren’t at risk of legal ramifications from mislaid data or issues arising from contacting someone in error.
The one system not only takes all the pain away from your daily workload, but also includes the ways to engage with stakeholders – including emails, newsletters and even event management.