Our research tells us that most SME business owners are using spreadsheets to manage their business. And when asked why, they often say that they don't know what else to use.
Before we go any further, spreadsheets provide invaluable tools for collecting and analysing data.They are great for numeric and text values in relatively low volume. However, for very large volumes of data, a relational database has several advantages over a spreadsheet: 1. Data Integrity Access to a spreadsheet is often limited to one person at a time. Relational databases are designed for multiple users and when one person makes a change, it is visible to everybody instantly. This feature preserves data integrity and data consistency, which is harder to manage when using spreadsheets.
2. Data Redundancy Databases are designed to avoid data redundancy, with little or no duplication of data. Frequently, data in spreadsheets is copied multiple times and the same data is maintained in separate spreadsheet files, creating accuracy problems when changes are made.
3. User Access & Security Databases provide centralised data storage and offer better security than spreadsheets. User permissions can be assigned to restrict access to privileged information.
4. Efficiency Updates to databases are typically easier than spreadsheets, especially if the same information is maintained in multiple records or multiple spreadsheets. A relational database is more efficient in storing and manipulating data, compared with large spreadsheets. This results in less time being spent on tasks and fewer mistakes.
5. Data Accessibility & Speed Since databases store information more efficiently, they can handle volumes of information that would be unmanageable in a spreadsheet. Spreadsheets have record limitations whereas databases do not. Compared to databases, spreadsheets can require a large amount of disk space for storage. Very large spreadsheets can be hard to read and finding specific data can be cumbersome. Relational databases use special querying tools to overcome these issues. 6. Real-Time Reporting Producing reports in a spreadsheet will require your skill in creating pivot tables, charts & graphs, performing vlookups, running macros etc. With a relational database management system, reports are available at the click of a button, instantly providing accurate and up-to-date information.