Excel is great but is there a better tool for the job?

The risks of using Excel were dramatically demonstrated last year when some 16,000 positive cases of Covid 19 were temporarily excluded from the UK Government’s Test and Trace database. The cause of the problem was a ‘simple’ misunderstanding by the user of the amount of data a spreadsheet could handle. However the consequences were potentially life changing as incorrect information was being used to make decisions about lockdown timing.

I describe it as a ‘simple’ misunderstanding but do not underestimate the challenges of using excel – you only know what you know. In the wrong hands, spreadsheets can lead to a loss of control and ultimately introduce errors to your data. Solving these will be time consuming and frustrating.

Do you understand the risks of using Excel and if so, is it time you tried a different tool for the job?

I love Excel and spent much of my previous career using it. It is an extremely powerful tool and in the right hands it can make light work of managing, sorting and analysing data. It certainly beats using pen, paper and a calculator when processing large amounts of data such as royalty distributions! Using it, however, should come with appropriate warnings.

Matching Royalties

The power of Excel comes from the ability to use functions, macros and tables to manage data, however:

  1. These can often be complex to implement, leading to misuse. I am sceptical when someone tells me they are ‘expert’ in Excel. Step briefly out of your comfort zone and data problems can snowball.
  2. It is difficult to maintain control of a spreadsheet. Implementing robust sanity checks in to a workbook can be challenging. Errors can be buried deep and difficult to detect. If left unresolved they can have a catastrophic impact on your data.

In the wrong hands, spreadsheets can lead to a loss of control and ultimately introduce errors to your data. Far better to use a system specifically designed for the task in hand.

Earlier in this post I proclaimed my undying love for Excel. I genuinely enjoy using it and spent much of my Finance career trying to build complicated workbooks to perform computations with increased efficiency – it could sometimes feel like a bit of a game! But this did not come without its costs. Along the way I undoubtedly made errors. These errors have ultimately cost time and money to remedy and worse still, some probably went undetected and are now buried deep in the annals of time (and hopefully never to see the light of day). I never professed to being an expert even though I was using it for 10 hours a day, 5 days a week.

In fact, at my previous organisation, there was a strategic shift away from using spreadsheet-based solutions to systems designed specifically for the job. The aim - to reduce error and improve efficiency.

My experience has taught me that there is a time and a place for Excel and that it’s vital to recognise when there is a better solution. At RoyaltyCloud we think we have built that solution for publishers.

As a publisher you have responsibilities to your clients in terms of protecting their data and ensuring the processing of their data is performed securely and accurately. You are the controller of their data but should you choose to process it as well, care should be taken to ensure your procedures are appropriately designed and executed.

At RoyaltyCloud we have developed a unique and intelligent royalty management platform, which has been specifically designed to automate the processing of royalties. You will save valuable time and avoid the operational risks that come with using Excel. Using powerful computer algorithms and data processing and sharing techniques we can simplify the distribution of royalty data right along the chain from CMO to composer or retailer to author.

RoyaltyCloud is a platform specially designed to make royalty processing easy – don’t make it more complicated than it needs to be.

Get in touch to learn more and join our growing community of happy users.

Russell Tew 30th Mar 2021