Excel has saved the lives of many a man / woman but I bet when starting out your career very few EHS Managers believed that they could add the skillset of being “Excel Spreadsheet Engineer” to their profiles!
It’s a familiar piece of kit so it has proved to be hugely popular with clients. In many cases the data and the complicated formulae has been built proudly by each individual so they trust the system. Of course the overriding factor at corporate level is that it’s also cheap to implement.
There are of course drawbacks with Excel but then again there are drawbacks with many systems. One of the funniest moments over the last couple of years was when an EHS Manager told me that his Excel system was called UTM. When asked what UTM stood for, he proudly stated “Up To The Minute” (which of course it was – for about five minutes once a week! and for him that was on a Tuesday!).
The biggest drawback of an Excel system of course is that it isn’t up to the minute at all so therefore colleagues don’t have access to live information. This is all very well when everything is running smoothly but what happens when you go on holidays, what happens if you leave the business? The reality is that using Excel for training management is fraught with danger and you can forget any form of collaboration!
What happens if your current Excel document suddenly disappears from the server? What happens if the laptop gets stolen? Of course you can try and retrieve or even use an older version but the reality is that a cloud based solution for learning management is much more stable than one person and a laptop.
Of course Excel lends itself to human error because of all the complicated formulas but mainly because of how easy it is to unwittingly delete some data or press cut instead of paste. In fact most people using Excel for learning management spend more time designing a datatable and wondering why it doesn’t add up, than they do on their actual job of being a Health & Safety Manager!
Excel itself is a tool designed for calculation and analysis and simply doesn’t also have the communication capabilities that a Learning Management System (LMS) or Contractor Management System (CMS) would have, but probably my biggest bug bear is that you are waiting and relying on a third party to email you info that you then need to check and upload into the system. That email is always later than you need it!! Some of the latest systems (such as ours), puts the onus on the contractor to upload documents. You get a notification when it’s done and you then simply approve or reject the documentation submitted! A full audit trail in one spot.
When it comes to viruses and data protection, using Excel is like riding on a horse and cart even though the Luas has just pulled into town.
There are many arguments for sticking with Excel at line manager level but at corporate level they want, sorry they need, you to focus on what’s important. Believe me spending hours in front of an Excel spreadsheet is not one of them. Technology will never make you job redundant but it will make you more efficient. After all when you started out in your career you only ever dreamt of being that Health and Safety Manager and not an “Excel Spreadsheet Engineer”.
Why not talk to dulann.com to see how we can make your life easier. Now back to that spreadsheet!
Dulann is a provider of technology-enabled learning solutions for many of the world’s leading organisations. Services include Product & Process Simulations, Contractor Inductions & Employee Onboarding, Mandatory & Commercial Training, Contractor Management & Learning Management Systems.
About Damian Donlon.
Damian is a Non Executive, Senior Consultant, Interim Manager and Talent Adviser with specialist experience in the Construction & Technology sectors. Please feel free to contact him directly on 0879218616 for a confidential conversation.