Why Management by Spreadsheets Hinders Data Reliability, Hampers Growth

Why Management by Spreadsheets Hinders Data Reliability, Hampers Growth

A Forbes report published a year ago confirmed that, in 2022, one in five businesses (globally) failed within the first year. The 2023 State of Entrepreneurship in South Africa Survey – prepared by the Entrepreneurs’ Organisation (EO) South Africa chapter and published in BizCommunity – confirms that most entrepreneurs surveyed (53.2%) had one successful business; this despite having started between three and five businesses (39.9%). This echoes the global small business success (and failure) statistics.

These results clearly illustrate one undeniable fact. Small businesses need greater support to remain viable. Even more so to thrive instead of just survive. Perhaps one of the greatest challenges to overcome and achieve success, is the mindset that small business owners have towards their own growth. Too often, we see small businesses suffering because management is thinking too small, avoids digital transformation, and operates with misguided beliefs that they cannot afford automation.

The truth is actually quite the opposite. Small business in South Africa (and the world over) can’t afford not to automate. Why? Because the alternative means continuing to manage the business with spreadsheets, which is risky, time-consuming, and effectively hampers business growth. There is no agility, certainty, and true business intelligence to be found in a manual spreadsheet. The reality is that paper-based processes and management by spreadsheets won’t deliver deep, real-time insights. This means there is no decision making power, and effectively preparing for the future just isn’t possible. So why keep it up?

Most small businesses assume automation is too expensive. However, when this cost (which can be more affordable than expected) is offset against the benefits of staying competitive in a digital world, the argument for automation will win, every time.

The worst thing a small business can do is not prepare for growth. If the organisation’s systems and processes won’t stand up to increased demand, the business will never be able to deliver supply. So, even though all the hard yards have been taken drive initial growth, the business will soon begin to decline if it cannot keep up with greater market demands.

Now the question becomes; what should small businesses look for in an automation solution? Business Process Automation (BPA) is driven by modern, cloud-based, and innovative Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) offerings. What these businesses need is streamlined operations, data centralisation and security, transparency across teams, and greater decision making power. When every facet of the business’ operations is completely visible, it is empowered  to respond to economic changes, better manage supply chain challenges, ensure compliance, and leverage agility and flexibility to move with its market’s fluctuations. Automating financial data also makes planning for the future much easier, and more accurate.

What’s really needed is a mind-shift; moving from “automation is expensive, it’s beyond what my business needs” to “innovation is the solution, automation will facilitate sustainable growth”. With this approach, and the right ERP solution employed, the business will be agile enough to keep up with increasing demand, wise enough to make sound decisions based on real-time insights from reliable data, and scalable enough to keep growing beyond even what its founders had imagined.

Written by: Lihle Bikitsha, Enterprise Applications at iOCO