Microsoft Excel was never designed to manage information as a database. As a platform, it was originally intended for printing spreadsheet and table information, something that has been left behind in the modern, mobile communication era.
We’ve always used Excel
One of the most common reasons companies are still using Excel, is because it is what they have always used to manage their training matrix. This has worked well for many years, however the amount of data companies are using today has grown significantly.
Simon Clackett, Quality Systems Manager for Bemis Healthcare Packaging mentioned that when companies transition from smaller to larger organisations, they can no longer rely on spreadsheets to manage their training and auditing activities. View the Bemis case study »
Globally, data grows exponentially, especially when a company is experiencing a growth period. This leads to increased loading time, lack of up-revision and security, whilst presenting an overall compliance risk.
IBM Analytics have said that:
90% of the data in the world today has been created in the last two years.
The Royal Society refers to this exponential data growth in this interactive page on machine learning.
So, What’s The Problem?
Let’s look at what happens when a company uses Excel and paper-based methods for managing their training activity.
An employee of a manufacturing site in the United Kingdom leaves their work station to view and sign a new Standard Operating Procedure, at their manager’s request. The manager proceeds with other employees and then updates this record in the Excel spreadsheet training matrix.
The very next day at one of the companies’ sites in the United States, a training manager updates that operating procedure. That document is now out-of-date, and not only that, it has become out-of-date in such a short amount of time.
The Excel spreadsheet and paper records at the UK site need to be updated and if a customer or auditor requires those records, suddenly there is an issue with compliance.
Now, the trend we are seeing for training teams is the use of devices such as tablets on the factory floor, where they can walk directly up to an employee and show them a video, SOP or any other training document and even have them sign for it on the spot.
If that training document is updated in the USA, then it is automatically synchronised and up-revised and a manager at the UK site receives a notification immediately.
Many companies have stopped using Excel and paper records for training, however often it is difficult for managers to get started or even know where to start. Especially when they have relied on Excel for many years.
In the next part to this topic, we will look at the cost-saving benefits related to removing Excel and paper records.
In the mean time, why not take a look at the Case Study section to get an idea of how some companies are using a cloud-based system for managing their training activity.