When spreadsheets aren’t “free”

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Executive Summary

People often think spreadsheet-based assessments are “free”.

However, whilst spreadsheets can be a good way to get started on basic surveys, they are never “free”.

They incur hefty tangible and intangible costs – typically doubling the time needed for an individual assessment – and these costs expand even further as assessment activity scales-up.

Typical assessment tasks (showing necessary vs spreadsheet time spent)

Spreadsheets therefore end-up preventing the scaling-up of assessment activity:

  • They introduce additional complexity.
  • They’re not designed or optimised for creating or filling-out assessment forms.
  • They create significant additional “administrative” tasks.
  • People can end-up blaming the process and not the spreadsheet.
  • etc, etc.

Most of all, spreadsheets create limited “headroom” for value-adding effort, leading to workarounds being found, and attention being diverted away from what really matters.

All of this limits how many assessments can be run and how thoroughly the assessment process is embedded in the business.

When trying to successfully measure collaborative relationships, the relationships themselves end up suffering – a very high price to pay for a “free” tool.

Collaborative relationships are vital. Assessing and measuring them is crucial to their success. Why risk compromising that success for such a short-sighted and short-term perspective of what is “free”?

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