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Would You Still Use Excel to run your company?

By Miguel Villalpando - VIAS3D
Vice President of Sales and Marketing


By Miguel Villalpando | Vice President of Sales and Marketing - Tue, 02/28/2023 - 16:00

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Technology has revolutionized the way we live. Working with Excel is an excellent example of how technology has made life easier for many people and companies throughout the country. It is a great tool for accounting and estimating resources needed for a project. 

Despite its limitations, it can still be used effectively for certain types of engineering-related tasks, such as tracking activity progress and creating estimates required for a project. However, when you are in the engineering or manufacturing business you will be facing many limitations with Excel, which makes us question ourselves: Are we doing something wrong? Is this the best way to run our company?

After years of struggle, we have found the key concepts needed to perform these duties much better. So let me walk you through them as I try to make you change your perspective about why you shouldn’t run your engineering processes in Excel. 

The power of visualization. Working with bills of materials is no easy task; you need to learn part numbers, families, and others. This can become a much more complex process when you are working with multiple products and their variants.

Translating a complex bill of materials into a 3D assembly can potentially make it easier for the brain to understand and visualize the relationships between different components. This can be particularly helpful in manufacturing or engineering contexts, where understanding the physical relationships between parts is important for assembling and troubleshooting products.

There are many kinds of software that can be used to create 3D assemblies from a bill of materials. These programs can create detailed, interactive 3D models that show the relationships between different components, making it easier to understand how products are put together. Additionally, most of these software programs allow simulation, which can be very helpful when testing products before manufacturing them.

Collaboration is the name of the game. Excel lacks collaboration features, making it difficult for multiple engineers to work on the same project simultaneously. Excel documents can be easily overwritten or duplicated, making it difficult to track changes made by different team members, leading to confusion and errors. Additionally, Excel does not have built-in collaboration features, such as commenting or real-time editing either, cutting off collaboration.

Bring your document to life. There’s an urgent need to move from file-based documents to data-driven platforms as nowadays working with files limits you to work within its barrier. Making this transition to data-driven platforms can bring several benefits to your company, such as improved collaboration, better data management and analysis, and enhanced security. Data-driven platforms allow for real-time updates, version control, and easy access to information from multiple devices, making it easier for teams to work together and make informed decisions. 

Validate data to make your life easier. Excel does not have the ability to automatically validate the data, which makes it hard to identify errors or inconsistencies. These errors can lead to operational inefficiencies or even financial loss. Improve communication. Excel is not considered a good communication tool because it lacks features that are necessary for effective and real-time communication.

Finances and engineering base their work on calculations but these are not the same type of calculations. Excel is not designed for complex calculations and simulations, and much less to host multiple engineers in one single project that requires these capabilities. 

Excel is a relatively inexpensive tool compared to many specialized engineering software solutions, which makes it attractive for some organizations. While it may seem like you are saving money by using Excel rather than an expensive software, the reality is that you could end up losing money in the long run due to inefficient management and operation. This is because Excel's flexibility and complexity can eventually lead to data entry or analysis mistakes that cost your company money. 

In conclusion, the right tools to perform engineering activities that are concurrent, well-structured, and accurate should allow the users to work with both file-based and data-driven documents. These tools must allow a fluid, real-time and transparent integration between the different teams of an organization that allows them to always work with updated data, reaching a certain amount of automation that allows users to concentrate on their responsibilities and spend less time on tasks that don’t offer value. All of this is what we define as digital continuity throughout the entire value stream.

Therefore, it’s important to consider the long-term costs associated with using Excel before deciding on whether to use it for your business operations or not. Would you still use Excel for your project management?  

Photo by:   Miguel Villalpando

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