The '90s called and they want their spreadsheets back


Invented in 1979, the spreadsheet has been an invaluable asset to every department of every business for the past 40 years. But, in the digital age of business, the utility of the trusted spreadsheet has begun to wane.

While spreadsheets are versatile and functional, the tide is turning for “living spreadsheets”. These are spreadsheets that manage or track aspects of a business and are continually updated for distribution among employees. For example, living spreadsheets may be used for:

  • Budgets
  • Tracking customer and partner activity
  • Active and inactive customer accounts
  • Inventory
  • Project and workflow management

For these types of documents, Excel is limited when compared to web applications powered by low-code platforms, such as Microsoft PowerApps, Zoho Creator, and by Salesforce. Excel’s limitations are many:

  • Poor collaboration
  • Limited integration into other applications
  • Limited mobile access
  • Poor security and access control
  • Overly complex for casual users
  • Limited dashboard and analytics capabilities

The emergence of low-code platforms has given teams a viable option for converting spreadsheets into web applications. Below, you’ll find the top three reasons why you should consider converting your spreadsheet into a web application.

No More Email Attachments.

Let’s face it: sharing a .xls document is a pain. Even today, with collaboration tools from Microsoft 365 and G-Suite, most spreadsheets are still shared via email. With low-code platforms, spreadsheets are converted into a SaaS web application. Your data, formulas, reports, and dashboards are all accessible with a user-friendly browser or mobile app on any device. The administrator can set access control permissions so that when an employee logs in, they can only see what the administrator allows them to see.

The Smarter Spreadsheet

Spreadsheets aren’t actionable. This means that workflows and notifications can’t be triggered on a .xls. Low-code applications allow administrators to build triggers that launch an action based on an event, time, or other criteria. This feature is incredibly powerful, especially when other operational processes are taken into consideration. Examples of these include:

  • SMS or email notification if a field isn’t updated after a specific time
  • A sales manager must update the budget but fails to by the allotted time
  • SMS or email notification when field(s) meet a certain condition
  • Update the finance team when the inventory level meets a threshold
  • SMS or email notification if a predetermined conflict occurs

A field services employee (construction) is scheduled for a job, but already approaching overtime. A low-code system can flag that job and a supervisor can adjust accordingly

Integrate and Share

By the nature of spreadsheets, data must be entered manually. This saps productivity, one keystroke at a time. But, with low-code web applications, administrators can easily integrate the data with other sources. Virtually any cloud-based application from marketing, CRM, ERP, and finance can be seamlessly integrated with almost all low-code platforms. Examples of this include:

  • Low-code web applications that store data on customers or partners can be published to a web portal or your website
  • Data from your marketing system, or CRM, can be pushed to a web application that is then pre-sent to a web portal
  • A web portal can collect customer or partner sign-up information and store it in a low-code web application