From their introduction to the masses via VisiCalc and Lotus 123, spreadsheets have become ubiquitous in business. Back in the day, electronic spreadsheets were reason enough to sink hundreds of dollars into the Apple II or, a little later, thousands for a brand new IBM 5150 with optional monitor and a whopping 64K RAM. And most of those early adopters would have told you — would still tell you — that it was worth every penny.
The Pros and Cons of Using Spreadsheets to Track IT Assets
Maybe it’s a holdover from their early status as the holy grail of business apps, but there’s still a subset of businesspeople whose answer to every business problem is a spreadsheet. But powerful and versatile as they can be, are they the BEST answer to every problem?
Take IT asset management, for instance: more than a few businesses track their IT assets using Excel, which tends to work well for awhile, at least until that spreadsheet is copied. After that, it’s over — multiple versions of the spreadsheet proliferate like a rapidly mutating virus, and soon enough, no one really knows what you have or where it is.
Cloud services like Google Apps and Dropbox can help combat versionitis, but even spreadsheets stored in a centralized location are still prone to data dependency errors, convoluted formulas, meager reporting options, and flat-out fraud, among other issues. Spreadsheets, fantastically useful though they are and cloud-based though they might be, aren’t up to the complexities of managing IT assets even in small enterprises, let alone mid-sized businesses or public sector agencies.
A dedicated IT asset management solution not only addresses the weaknesses of spreadsheets but also provides insight that’s difficult, if not impossible, to gain any other way. That insight becomes efficient and appropriate purchasing. It can translate into lower insurance premiums and higher ROI. It makes tax time a lot more pleasant for all concerned. And if your dedicated IT asset management solution lives entirely in the cloud, the way SAManage does, there’s no hardware or software to maintain and the costs can be dramatically lower compared to onsite alternatives.
If you’re using a spreadsheet to track IT assets, take a moment to consider the advantages and disadvantages of that approach. If it turns out that the limited functionality, versioning problems, reporting weaknesses, and all the rest trump the dubious cost, deployment, and other advantages, you owe it your business to look into a system designed from the ground up to help you get the most out of your IT asset investment.