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How To Break Free From Spreadsheet Sprawl

A cloud-based work management solution keeps everybody’s work in one place

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Traditional spreadsheets were never intended for utility beyond number crunching, yet they’ve become a common language for managing shared work. It’s all too easy to fall back on a form factor that is universally understood when trendy collaboration tools aren’t adopted by every team member or access to Microsoft Project is too difficult to obtain – again. But when the volume of work grows or more stakeholders begin to contribute, a single spreadsheet quickly grows to three, then five, then ten, then there’s no end in sight. As new versions continue to crop up, certainty around which file is the most current is lost, and big problems arise.

This spreadsheet sprawl cripples productivity and causes confusion, miscommunication, and lack of control and visibility into the work being done. That’s why especially for collaborative, cross-functional work, some organizations are ditching this inherently flawed approach to getting work done in favor of a  cloud-based work management solution.

Blackboard Transact: From Siloed Files to ‘Living Timelines’

Blackboard, a leading education technology company, uses Smartsheet for collaborative work management with its K-12 and higher education clients.

Switching from email and complicated Excel workbooks to web-based Smartsheet has elevated the level of professionalism between Blackboard and their clients by making information available to clients in real time. “Online collaboration means the client can easily work with our project manager on plans and documents, and be up-to-date all along the way,” says David Minutella, a project manager for Blackboard. “The project plans are also accessible when I travel, so I don’t need to worry about getting the latest version of a locally saved document.” Now, expectations are clear from the outset, updated timelines are always available, and vendors can access the details whenever they need them, wherever they are. Time savings are significant and more business is won.

MOD Pizza: Work Management Fuels Global Growth

MOD Pizza, recently crowned the “Chipotle of Pizza,” is one of the fastest growing retail chains in the US. The number of MOD storefronts is skyrocketing, yet until this last year, expansion plans were all managed via Excel and email. A system that worked when the company opened one or two stores at a time was in jeopardy of buckling with the demands of global growth.

“There were no processes in place, no sharing of information, no collaboration at all,” explains Dan Gockel, chief of stuff for MOD Pizza.

Trading outdated offline Excel workbooks for centralized work management with Smartsheet has given the MOD expansion team the ability to maintain control over pieces of their process, while still allowing flexibility for local teams at each store.

Now, the team has one centralized view of all store opening activities, and can optimize their resources and accelerate progress to open more stores, faster. “It’s an easy sell when you talk about ROI and what Smartsheet can provide from a numbers perspective, if we can decrease the amount of time it takes us to do a construction project by even a week,” says Gockel. 

Goodbye Spreadsheets, Hello Work Management

Spreadsheets will always be useful for elements of work. However, as work management solutions continue to gain momentum, their days as a collaboration hack are numbered, and the confusion created by spreadsheet sprawl will diminish as organizations continue to move their work management to the cloud.

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