The client used a spreadsheet to issue quotations for small furniture orders. The product information came from a central database, but the spreadsheet was clunky and error-prone.
We built a basic application plus database in a couple of days to replace the old spreadsheet. The interface was slick enough to provide a decent time-saving, as well as remove most sources of error.
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We were then able to add further functionality including:
- Appending the standard T&Cs to the quote and produce on single merged PDF ready to be emailed.
- Generating delivery confirmation letters at the push of a button.
- Profit & margin reports across projects.
Although this is a very small and humble example, it highlights how worth your while it is to replace spreadsheets with proper applications.
This development cost under £2000 and paid itself back within a few months.
Take home points:
- Although spreadsheets are cheap and easy to set up initially, their limitations and the amount of time you spend fixing errors means it is often better to go with a proper application.
- Using a proper programming language as opposed to spreadsheet macros makes adding clever functions like merging the print-out into a PDF much easier.
- It doesn’t take much to recreate your spreadsheets in a desktop or web application (because you already know how you want it to work) and it’s perfectly possible for the cost to pay itself back in months or even weeks.