If you’re like me and you mastered the use of spreadsheets many years ago, they’ve probably shown up in many ways throughout your business. In fact, just today I was using a spreadsheet as a year planner, whilst waiting for new wall planner to arrive! Over the years we (and those who create those oh-so-handy templates) have evolved spreadsheets into this one-stop solution for anything. Gone are the days when a spreadsheet’s one and only purpose was managing financial data. And of course, Event Managers found a purpose for them.
When you think about it, they’re just so convenient. They’re manipulative and easily customised, they’re inexpensive (especially when you have the likes of Google Sheets at your finger tips) and extremely easy to access, and most people can work their way around a spreadsheet with a little practice.
I’ll be the first to admit I’ve used spreadsheets in more ways than I can count, and it’s normally one of the first options I think of when I have a task that needs doing. And yes, in the past I have indeed used them to plan events, the budgets, guest lists, supplier details and timelines. But advances in technology over the past ten years, have meant there are some pretty amazing software programmes available now that are designed just for event management!
Feeling a little resistant to change? Attached to those sheets you’ve spent many loving hours slogging over? Let me tell you exactly why you should move on from the age of the spreadsheet.
The time it takes to set up
One of the things I procrastinated over was always having to set up an initial spreadsheet. And the bigger the event – the more detail required. Of course over the years I created templates, but as events are very often unique, there would always be changes required. New formulas needed, cells moved, changed, deleted, added. If you’re like me, you also get caught up in the nitty-gritty of what it looks like (it’s the perfectionist in me I think). The cell sizes, the font, the cell colours, the borders. If you’re a visual person, this must be done. Before you know it, this has easily added a couple of hours onto your already limited timeframe.
They’re actually not purpose-built for Event Managers
Which means sometimes, you have to work in some “work-abouts”, make some adjustments, or have that goodness me massive raw data sheet hiding in there so all your formulas work the way they should. And even then, sometimes you just can’t get it to quite do what you need it to do. Speaking of you trying to manipulate the data, it’s so easy for errors to occur. One wrong character in your formula and it knocks everything else out. One accidental cell deleted and your spreadsheet is full of #REF!‘s and #VALUE!‘s. Painful, and more unecessary time spent fixing your system.
Everything comes with a formula
Want to know how many yes’s you have on the guest list? Well after you’ve manually inputted all their responses, you’ve got to put a nifty little formula in (or count them manually – but if you’re working with hundreds of people – that’s not an option!). Budgets, counts, analysis – it’s all formulas. And to be honest, the bigger the event you’re working on, the more complex it becomes to analyse your data and to build reports. Speaking of building reports – that’s on you too. Creating the graphs, lookup tables, figures from various points on your spreadsheet, you pick them all out and input them into another document (and of course if you’re like me – you need to make it look presentable).
There are numerous event management software options waiting for you to try, all designed specifically for planning, managing and implementing events. Anything that makes you more efficient, streamlines your processes and information, and lives in a cloud must be pretty awesome right? Spreadsheets will always have a home in my computer, and even in managing my events I will still use them, but there’s a time and a place, and with the options now available, they may just take a back seat a bit more often.