Curated by: Sergio A. Martínez

Why is the software industry so dependent on Microsoft Excel? That’s a good question. While its dominance is often attributed to its influential features and ease of use, many other key reasons can explain why Excel is so popular across all sorts of industries: Compatibility with other software, for example, is a pretty important feature. Excel files can be easily opened and edited in a variety of external programs, making it a convenient tool for users that need to share and access the files at a moment’s notice.


Secondly, its ability to handle large amounts of data is significant, capable of easily managing huge spreadsheets, making it ideal for businesses that track lots of information. And perhaps more importantly, Excel is affordable, making it a great choice for users and organizations on a budget, being part of the basic Microsoft Office suite. So, with so much to offer, it’s no wonder that Excel is still a top choice for businesses around the world, seen as the go-to software for maintaining records and performing calculations. It’s hard to picture a modern workplace that doesn’t incorporate this application in some way, which begs the question: is this tool the right one for a company?

On one hand, this software is notoriously difficult to use, with many companies investing heavily in Excel training and support, making it difficult to switch to another platform. Even experienced users can find themselves frustrated by its complexity, and Excel doesn’t even offer a lot of flexibility compared with more specialized software applications, being difficult to customize to meet specific needs. And that’s without mentioning how Excel does not have the same level of security as more robust applications, which can be a serious problem if confidential data is being stored in Excel files, which everyone can open and manipulate on any computer. 

Then why do so many companies continue to rely on it? What happens when this piece of office software falls short of the needs and challenges of a company? And what alternatives exist to bridge this gap?

What actually is Microsoft Excel?

When Excel is not enough 2

At its most basic, Microsoft Excel is a software application that allows users to create and format spreadsheets. It is part of the classic Microsoft Office suite of productivity tools, and it’s widely used by businesses and individuals for tasks such as financial modeling, data analysis, and tracking inventory levels. Among other things, Excel offers a user-friendly interface, and its powerful features make it a versatile tool for many different spreadsheet needs. That’s it.

However, there’s a more in-depth answer to what Excel actually is: one of the biggest culprits when it comes to software errors and inefficiencies within any organization. In simple terms, the main problem with using Excel for software management is that it wasn’t designed for that purpose; this application is great for tracking data and performing calculations, but for managing complex software projects, it’s lacking in features, if not downright counterproductive. And we are not alone in this belief.

Excel is one of those tools that every company starts off with.  In the initial stages, it allows companies to organize and manage many of their operations effectively and efficiently. It may not be perfect, but it does the job”, says an article by tech developer Strappberry. “There is no doubt that it is a useful tool that helps in many administrative, accounting, and financial tasks. However, as business data grows, the limitations of this software begin to show.

When it comes to software development in specific, the problem with using only Microsoft Excel is that it’s not designed for managing these kinds of complex projects. It doesn’t have the features or functionality that you need to effectively manage a development team. One of the biggest problems is that Excel doesn’t handle dependencies well; when you’re trying to track which tasks need to be completed in what order, Excel quickly becomes a tangled mess. The other big problem is that Excel doesn’t provide any way to visualize the project as a whole, which can make it difficult to spot potential problems or areas where the project is falling behind schedule. It doesn’t offer any real-time collaboration features, so if multiple people are working on the same project, they’ll need to constantly send updated versions of the spreadsheet back and forth, which can quickly become confusing and lead to errors.

Additionally, you could lose all of your data if something goes wrong with your Microsoft Excel file. So, while Microsoft Excel may be a good tool for some things, it’s not enough to effectively manage a software project, let alone an entire organization. The problem only compounds across companies and industries, resulting in an application that can quickly be overwhelmed in serious business environments. You need a more robust solution that was specifically designed for managing software development projects.

Taking matters into your own hands

When Excel is not enough

No, Microsoft Excel is not enough to maintain a software organization, so having an alternative to manage any workflow of a company is going to become increasingly critical in today’s competitive market. And one of the best ways to do so is by having a strong internal toolkit

By developing its own tools and platforms, an organization can gain a significant edge, because it gives the organization better control over the development process. By creating tailor-made solutions for its own specific challenges, the organization can ensure that they are always ahead of the curve. In addition, these tools enable an organization to better control its destiny, allowing it to tap into the talents of its employees by designing systems and tools that take advantage of the talent inside the organization, instead of trying to slot them into learning applications such as Excel. 

However, above all of this, the most obvious benefit is that it can help to improve the efficiency of the company’s development process. By having access to tools and resources specifically designed for the company’s needs, developers can save a considerable amount of time and effort, as well as solve some of the most pressing security issues with Excel, by implementing applications that can be built from the ground up with the scalability and security that any organization needs. In addition, developing internal tools can also help to foster a greater sense of cooperation and collaboration within the company. When employees can work together more effectively, it can lead to better results overall. 

Although Microsoft Excel is a powerful tool that can be used for a wide range of tasks, it does have its limits”, says Adolfo Cruz, PMO Director and Partner. “Excel is designed to work with small to medium-sized datasets, and the complexity of formulas that can be used is pretty limited. This can make it difficult to perform certain types of analysis, such as financial modeling, and it’s not well suited for collaborative work, which is important for a larger organization. Sure, you can share spreadsheets, but there is no built-in support for tracking changes or managing versions. In all, Excel is best suited for individual work, but for a larger organization, it’s better to have something more special.

And what he means is that developing internal tools can also help to create a competitive advantage for the company. By having access to unique and innovative resources, a software development company can set itself apart from its rivals, and with something that’s entirely its own, developers can feel more connected to their organization. In short, developing internal applications that can’t get overwhelmed by the challenges of an organization is the best way for any software company to achieve true success. That way, we can leave behind a dependency on Excel that will only hurt in the long run.

The Key Takeaways

  • Excel is a pretty popular tool with a legitimate application inside and outside the software industry, but it’s also limited.
  • While capable of handling large amounts of data, being cheap and easy to access, if not to use, Excel cannot scale up properly with more complex projects, such as software development.
  • Although it’s not the only tool with this problem, it’s a great example of this problem, which can lead to all kinds of security and workflow issues that can harm and hold back an organization.
  • The best solution, then, is for a company to develop its own internal tools, making sure they are tailored to its unique problems and challenges.

Scio is an established Nearshore software development company based in Mexico that specializes in providing high-quality, cost-effective technologies for pioneering tech companies. We have been building and mentoring teams of engineers since 2003 and our experience gives us access not only to the knowledge but also the expertise needed when tackling any project. Get started today by contacting us about your project needs – We have teams available to help you achieve your business goals. Get in contact today!