We LOVE Excel
And we know how tempting it is to start entering those actions after meetings etc. It’s really easy to set up a simple spreadsheet to capture all the details relating to actions, colour code important items and produce beautiful and informative reports in a relatively short time
But – and you knew there was a ‘but’ – it’s just not good enough for rigorous action tracking – let us count the ways:
1.It’s difficult to share access to actions
Excel was never designed to allow multiple logins to the same spreadsheet by different people – what’s far more likely is that you will end up with multiple copies of the data, all slightly different
2. It’s almost impossible to restrict access to specific groups of data
You will normally want to restrict access to who can see what actions – I’m not going to say that is impossible in Excel but it will require a lot of code and additional complexity – generally anyone who has access to the spreadsheet can see and change everything.
3. Organisation of Actions is extremely difficult
If you want to organise actions on a project basis – quite a common scenario, you’ll need a way of creating the project within Excel and then allocating actions to is , then having some way of accessing those actions after entry. Don’t forget that if you are using reviewers as part of your action approval process it’s likely that these will change on a per project basis – this is definitely not out-of-the-box Excel functionality.
4. Approval workflow is almost impossible
When actions are completed you’ d expect to be able to invoke a workflow to allow one or more reviewers to sign it off – Excel just isn’t going to support this , you may be able to mark actions as complete but you’re not going to easily be able to send emails and reminders. You also need to ensure that reminders can be sent as the due date for closure approaches.
5. Attachments are tricky
The best action management systems allow actionees to attach additional information to support their work – Excel will allow this in a slightly clunky fashion but it’s very difficult to restrict access so that only those involved in the action can attach files.