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5 Reasons Why You Should Retire Your Planning Spreadsheets In 2016

Posted by Tom Vandervort on January 20, 2016

project_analyzer.jpgIs your firm still using spreadsheets to plan your projects? The good news is that you’re not alone, recent research from Zweig White found that almost 50% of AE firms are doing the same. The bad news is that using spreadsheets as an enterprise planning tool is very likely costing you time and money. Spreadsheets, while they are familiar to people and easy to customize, lack the many benefits of an integrated planning system. As I meet with Architecture and Engineering firms we hear common complaints and challenges about their spreadsheet planning “solutions”.  

Do any of these problems sound familiar? If so this may be the year to retire your spreadsheet in favor of an enterprise resource planning system.

Here are 5 Reasons why Spreadsheets are Challenging Your Entire Enterprise

1) Multiple Versions of the “Truth” Haunt Staffing Meetings

We find that firms that use spreadsheets to plan staffing assignments tend to end up with multiple versions of the truth. This tends to create havoc during staffing meetings as each manager has their own version of the truth, creating meeting havoc, and leading to errant meetings that lack focus. Say no to meeting havoc and refocus your staffing meetings on adjusting plans and assignments.    

2) Inability to Show Real-time and Accurate Actuals

Spreadsheets are great to start planning a project, but once the project starts evolving updating the spreadsheet becomes a tedious process that PMs quickly give up on. As the project progresses, spreadsheets struggle to show actual hours and costs spent to date. Even worse, a firm will devote manual hours requiring employees to track this information by hand – rather than investing in an integrated planning system that streamlines this process.

3) Disconnected Month End Processes

During the month end process, spreadsheets create chaos for accounting. The root cause of all this chaos stems from the duplicate and manual labor spawned from disconnected spreadsheets. Firms that use an integrated planning system eliminate the burden of spreadsheets to allow accounting to focus on financial performance; freeing up PMs to focus on project success.  

4) Project Managers and Management at Odds

Project Managers often find themselves at odds with management when it comes to staffing decisions – PMs need new resources; management thinks there is too much overhead. Firms without a way to plan staffing assignments are left with only their best ‘guesstimates’ when it comes time to validate new hires. Successful firms justify new hires by utilizing a single project management system to look at current staffing capacity compared to future assignments.

5) Adjustment Failure

Firms utilizing spreadsheets to identify project profitability goals at the beginning of the project often fail to adjust throughout the project lifecycle. Those that do try to adjust their spreadsheets work with outdated information. This lag in data creates the inability to make real-time decisions about staffing and scheduling that can impact the success of a project. By investing in a project management system connected to financials provides firms the ability to view up-to-date-billing, resource and revenue forecasts.

There is a Better Way with an Integrated Planning System

Imagine if you were able to standardize your planning process across the entire firm. Standardization allows your firm to strengthen communication amongst project managers, accounting and management; providing insight for the firm as a whole. Ready to ditch the spreadsheet? Check out one of the ways your firm can handle project planning and staffing in this upcoming webinar.


Integrated Planning System

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