Using Spreadsheets as an Enterprise Application: Challenges and Solutions
You’d be hard pressed to find a business that doesn’t use spreadsheets in some way. Microsoft Excel spreadsheets are a staple for many businesses, whether they are used to project scenarios, to model a manufacturing process, or to generate pricing and proposals. But Excel was designed as a desktop application, and falls down badly when pressed into service as an enterprise tool.
To date, typical approaches to using Excel as an enterprise tool include:
1. Sharing raw spreadsheets via email and/or network drives. The problem? Spreadsheet version control can be a real issue, with multiple people saving multiple instances of the spreadsheet. When there are several hundred cloned versions of a spreadsheet, you can easily lose track of the “master” version. Additionally, there exists a significant security risk if there are proprietary formulas or intellectual property within the spreadsheet that should be invisible to the end-users.
2. Using Microsoft’s Excel Web App technology, or GoogleDocs. The problem is that these approaches translate your spreadsheet into a web app, and a great deal can be lost in translation. Does your pricing spreadsheet contain macros? Does your scenario modeling tool contain drop-down menus and look-up tables? Good luck deploying it with MS Web Apps or GoogleDocs!
But there is an alternative approach. EASA’s rapid application development and spreadsheet deployment system allows you take control of your spreadsheets, by deploying them as true enterprise applications. The EASA server runs the original spreadsheet in real-time on the back-end, while end-users interact with it via a web interface, built automatically. By deploying spreadsheets as enterprise applications, you can easily give access to many users while maintaining the integrity and security of the original spreadsheet.
Does your company still email spreadsheets as a means of sharing these documents? Is version control and security a concern for your enterprise?