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Four key risks of using spreadsheets for project planning


Hamish Blyth

Planning Solutions Manager


Successful project management relies on numerous factors, however the first step is also usually the most important and impactful. If your project planning is accurate and effective, then your project is already on track to succeed. Unfortunately, accurate and flexible project planning is typically easier said than done. And, if you’re still using spreadsheets to set out timeframes and key metrics, you could be setting your project up for failure. Spreadsheets have a role to play in business and, historically, they have been indispensable for project planning.  However, in the new digitised business environment, spreadsheets are outdated and obsolete in the face of more sophisticated tools.

If you still rely on project planning spreadsheets, you could face several risks that can harm your business. Here are four key risks of using spreadsheets for project planning:

Inaccurate project forecasting that results in time and budget blowouts

Spreadsheets can be useful for delivering information. However, some projects can change rapidly and using outdated spreadsheets can have significant impacts on project delivery. This is especially true when planning projects from the outset. If project plans aren’t updated correctly and in a timely fashion, this can result in inaccurate project forecasting, which can negatively impact budgets and proposed deadlines.

High risk of spreadsheet errors resulting in financial and compliance issues

Spreadsheets rely on regular manual updates which are prone to human error. The slightest inaccuracy could have significant impacts on any part of the project at any time. Depending on the mistakes being made, this could potentially be devastating to a project or even your entire business.

Poor workforce and contingency planning

Relying on spreadsheets for workforce and contingency planning prevents you from having the comprehensive overarching view required to make the right decisions in the moment. Master spreadsheets often rely on multiple people to update them and they must do this one at a time. This can decentralise your information, create silos and cause delays in providing important information, minimising your visibility. This can also affect your ability to generate effective contingency plans for each project.

Losing projects to competitors that can scale quickly

While tools like Excel can be useful, they can also reduce your agility and flexibility compared to newer technologies and solutions that can scale to suit changing business needs. Without access to solutions that can quickly adapt to different business environments, you might be losing opportunities to competitors that can scale more quickly.

Implementing the right project planning solutions and processes in your organisation is essential to help you better plan and strategise for changing circumstances. In our latest tip sheet, we’ve identified seven tips to help optimise your contingency planning and keep your projects on track for success.

For more information, download our latest tip sheet or contact the Mero team today.


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