In every business, strategic planning is essential and required to collect information that leads to better decision making. Since it’s inception, the deregulated energy industry finds Microsoft Excel as a powerful and popular tool among energy brokers, aggregators & suppliers to collect the sales, pricing, accounting, commission, and back-office data. Yet there are some major limitations with Excel. In this article we will share the pain points we have seen from brokers and suppliers utilizing this tool.
First let’s look at the positive side
- Spreadsheets are frequently the go-to tool for collecting and organizing data.
- Information can easily be placed in neat columns and rows and then sorted by information type.
- With the powerful analytical tools included within Excel you can analyze large amounts of data to discover trends.
The downside of Excel
- Manual process consumes lots of efforts & time
- Higher employee dissatisfaction – employees spend half their time filling, searching for data or dealing with minor calculation errors.
- No CRM automation – no alerts, notifications or automation for communication (internal and external). It serves as a poor CRM tool.
- Difficulty in collaboration across the team – even with share point and tools designed to have two people in a spreadsheet at the same time – data could accidentally be deleted or changed. Depending on operating system, Excel often throws errors.
- Loss of historical data – in something as simple as a copy/paste of a file, sometimes those files get lost. Backups are not something most brokerage firms have built into their process. This could be detrimental.
- Information in disparate places – spreadsheets aren’t designed to hold unlimited data, so often, to keep the size of them manageable, data gets stored in different places. This makes it difficult to generate valuable insights into your business.
- Lack of security – Excel is not designed for security. Anyone with access to a computer can download all your information with a single stroke.
- Prone to human error – Excel does not have built-in processes to catch trivial human errors. Something as simple as a missed calculation sign or misaligned row can damage owner/investor confidence or cause a considerable loss of opportunity amounting to thousands of dollars.
Evolution of the technology
The quicker you let go of spreadsheets, the sooner you can enjoy the growth of your business. To make the business process more user-friendly and comprehensive, companies are choosing software solutions, instead of relying solely on spreadsheets. These defined processes allow for easy onboarding and a competitive differentiator when looking for new industry talent. This claim is supported by the increasing demand for software services in the energy industry.
Sparkplug – The Energy Broker CRM has been adopted by 40+ brokers. Sparkplug is an end-to-end business management solution for energy brokers and consultants. It is a progressive tool that infuses automation throughout the complete energy brokering process starting from lead-to-quote-to-contract, through renewals and including the monthly commission reconciliation process. Here is an article we published recently that showed sparkplug client revenue growing 280% in their first 12 months of utilizing the software. Sparkplug grows energy brokers’ businesses– Revenue too!
Choosing the right tools for inputting, tracking, analyzing and storing data will help businesses owners and managers make the best choices for their business. Many consumers think that they cannot afford specific software solutions tailored to their needs. But now with the age of cloud computing, the software is available as Software as a Service (SaaS) at a low monthly subscription cost, where you do not need to invest a large sum of money to get started. To learn more contact us.