More firms may 'excel' without spreadsheets

More firms may 'excel' without spreadsheets

by LAUREN HASEGAWA, co-founder, Bridgit

Excel is a very powerful program that provides solutions for an extremely wide range of businesses. While this flexibility is largely the reason for the widespread adoption of spreadsheet programs such as Excel, it’s also its biggest downfall, in my opinion.

Why? Because such programs are not tailored to one type of business function.

In today's era of mass customization, people can order custom Nike sneakers online, make a personalized Pandora playlist, and even add flavor shots to their coffee – all through easily accessible consumer channels, not an elite service. So, why should your coffee be perfect, but software a pain?

Over the past few years, there have been serious calls from industries like health care and finance to stop their over-reliance on spreadsheet programs and move to more software-driven approaches to managing essential processes. This call to stop depending on spreadsheets is also relevant to construction, perhaps even more so, because of the large number of stakeholders involved in each project and the mobile nature of onsite construction professionals.

The following are some reasons to look into swapping spreadsheets for a more tailored, cloud-based software solution...


Most software being developed today is run in the cloud. Using cloud-based software means access to information from anywhere that is not tied to one computer where the spreadsheet is saved. Many cloud-based software also has mobile apps, or mobile-friendly web portals, which means information can be input from a smartphone. The ability to work from anywhere allows staff to get the job done on the go and reduces the “screen time” required at the end for data entry.


Entering reporting information into software instead of a static spreadsheet allows for a lot more flexibility down the line (e.g., compiling a punch list using spreadsheets vs. software tailored for the job, such as Closeout by Bridgit). Spreadsheets do an OK job of sorting the deficiencies by trade, due date and so on, but what happens when the original data needs to be manipulated in order to email a list of items to a specific trade, or compile a report with photos? The whole process gets a lot more complicated. Conversely, when recording the items using software, things like auto-generated emails and one-click report formatting become a snap.


Using spreadsheets to track metrics allows users to pre-determine the data sets they want to compare and set up equations to measure them over time. Spreadsheets do a good job at this. However, when users want to track additional trends in the future, the information simply won’t be available. For example, calculating the average time it takes a particular subcontractor to complete its work can only be compared using a spreadsheet if completion times had been recorded since day one.

This call to stop depending on spreadsheets is relevant to construction because of the large number of stakeholders involved in each project and the mobile nature of onsite professionals.

However, by using software to track outstanding work all along, then the simple action of marking something as completed would likely have been generating timestamps. These timestamps sit undisplayed until there is a need to see the information reported. As software analytics dashboards continue to improve, they are not just displaying data from today onward, but from the first day the software was used.

These are just a few of the reasons for the decline in the use of spreadsheets to track important project metrics in the construction industry. For a deeper dive into the ROI by using software to manage punch lists, download our free eBook, Evaluating the ROI of Punch List Management Software. 


The author is a structural engineer with a background in concrete restoration. She is an active mentor to young women in construction and in 2013 was named to "The Next 36", a nonprofit dedicated to helping grow Canada's long-term prosperity by fast-tracking the growth of talented young innovators. Hasegawa has always had an interest in how new technologies can improve efficiency and productivity in our industry. With this passion, she founded Bridgit, a mobile and web communication platform in 2012. 


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