Understanding the Hidden Costs of Spreadsheets

Many property tax professionals rely on spreadsheets to manage collaborative projects. Although they are familiar and easy to use, managing projects with “free” spreadsheets carries a variety of hidden costs and risks that collectively make them risky for team use.

Not A Team Player

Spreadsheets were really designed to be managed by a single user. Even though spreadsheets can be placed in a shared drive, they can only be accessed by one person at a time, which results in time-consuming check-in-check-out requirements to manage version control, i.e., making sure the most current version of the document is being worked on at any given time.

Size Matters

Some spreadsheets can be 100MB+, meaning they definitely won’t transfer across standard email systems, ahem, Outlook I’m looking at you. To accommodate, multiple workbooks have to be made with data linked between them. The more information that’s being managed the more complex the system becomes and the more likely there are to be errors or stale data.

An Auditor’s Nightmare (And Yours Too)

Spreadsheets have improved in this area but are still far from wearing the best practice crown for tracking changes, effectively making them incredibly difficult to audit. Therefore, it’s impossible to see who made changes to a document, including extending deadlines, re-assigning responsibilities, or deleting information.

Where Is My Workflow?!

A spreadsheet’s primary function is to store data, and column/row format does that beautifully. But often times users are unable to attach associated documents like signed contracts, photos, or email conversations — making a workbook an unfeasible option for centrally storing information.

Who Gets the Keys to the Castle?

Spreadsheets are also not known for their robust security measures, like managing user permissions or intuitively locking down certain portions of the workbook to prevent unwanted changes. With no great way to control access to sensitive information, multiple versions of the spreadsheet are often created, increasing the likelihood of error.

The Path Forward

Spreadsheets will likely always serve as the business world’s first option, but the hidden costs and risks associated with them simply aren’t worth their posed threat.

There’s a better way to do business that provides the same functions of spreadsheets without the associated peril. This cloud-based, multi-user solution is collaborative, secure, and designed to specifically meet the needs of property tax professionals.  

Contact AppealTrack today to learn more about how our software can improve productivity, streamline workflow, reduce security threats, grant permissions, and provide real-time access to client and property information.