A recent survey conducted by a leading provider of event management software asked UK based event managers what was their preferred tool for managing and planning their events. The most common tool by far was event management software with 67% of the votes. Coming second and third were spreadsheets and ‘other’ respectively.
Spreadsheets are a tried and tested way of managing events – they can track budgets, monitor resources and can be an effective way of creating and managing lists. The main benefit of spreadsheets as an event management tool is the low cost associated with them. The majority of event managers have access to spreadsheets and they are a widely accepted document format.
However, there are a high number of drawbacks if event managers decide to use spreadsheets as their main event management tool. Common issues include:
Poor efficiency: Using spreadsheets is not a very efficient method of managing all the aspects of an event. It is likely that event managers will be using many different spreadsheets, all with dozens of tabs, holding a huge amount of data. Managing all this data within spreadsheets can be confusing to an outsider, and time consuming for all users.
Lost data: Spreadsheets are only as safe as the server/system they sit on. If they are kept on a computer hard drive, there is a risk that all the data will be lost if anything happens to that computer or laptop. Spreadsheets are also prone to freezing/stalling and unless the event manager is accustomed to saving on a regular basis, there is a high risk that data and work will be lost.
Trouble keeping data up to date: Many events have multiple event managers, all using the same spreadsheets to organise and plan various areas. Problems arise when managers update spreadsheets without informing the other event mangers that the spreadsheet has changed. If event managers take a copy of the master spreadsheet and work on that, the master soon becomes out of date. There are also issues when more than one event manger needs to access the spreadsheet at the same time. Only one editable copy can be opened, causing the others to be ‘read only’ – removing the ability to make updates.