Get Customizable Web-Based Software and Get Productive – 7 Tip Series – Tip 1

We wrote a paper that explains 7 ways you can improve team productivity with customizable web-based software.

We’re sharing the first tip below and will post a new tip every few days. If you would like to read the entire paper now click here to request your copy.

Tip #1 – Stop shuffling spreadsheets and start being more productive
There’s an old saying: “When your only tool is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.” For many companies, the spreadsheet is the hammer they apply to any project. And just as a hammer is a poor way to measure dimensions or cut wood, the spreadsheet – though familiar – introduces more project management problems than it solves when you’re working with a team.

When you and your colleagues do the “spreadsheet shuffle,” your team choreography descends into chaos. Without a centralized location for all your project information – a place where individuals can update their pieces of information in real-time- you don’t have one version of the truth. Instead you’ve got spreadsheets and emails traveling around and potentially people working off of inconsistent/old information.

Spreadsheets hurt productivity in several ways. You waste time reconciling multiple document versions. There is a lack of adequate tracking and audit tools which makes it nearly impossible to find errors. And, spreadsheet applications haven’t been designed to encourage and facilitate communication: they have no features for tracking progress, prompting activity or alerting team members to deadlines.

Emailing spreadsheets is a project work-around, not an effective means for managing work. The best alternative is an online project management application that centralizes project information, provides all team members with secure access to the information they need—whenever and wherever they need it—streamlines data gathering, tracking and communication, and makes it easy to stay on the same page and easy to monitor progress.

Coming Monday– tip #2 – Find your productivity sweet spot

Have a friend who’s suffering from the spreadsheet shuffle?
Send them the link to this tip because friends don’t let friends shuffle spreadsheets.

Are you a reformed spreadsheet shuffler?
Share your story by replying to this post.
Tell us what life was like before QuickBase — and of course after.

To thank you for sharing, I’ll send you something near and dear to my heavily caffeinated heart – a Starbucks gift card. Just be one of the first five people to reply with their story and your next coffee’s on me.

  • Pingback: Confessions of a recovering spreadsheet shuffler | The QuickBase Team Collaboration Blog

  • http://www.smartgrp.com/ Lou Brothers

    When acting as a project manager for clients I often find that spreadsheets predated my existence to track Risks, Issues, Action Items and even the Project Plan on occasion. Migrating these all to QuickBase and then using Dashboards and Notifications has really increased the quality and speed of updates. Since everyone can see the information that pertains specifically to them they can focus on providing updates and ignore the ‘noise’ from everyone else. QuickBase makes an excellent collaboration platform for projects.

    [Reply]

    Kathleen Lamphier Reply:

    Lou – thanks for calling out dashboards and notifications – they are definitely sweet features of QuickBase. Can you say a bit more about how QuickBase has helped the quality of the project updates?

    [Reply]

    Robin Hall Reply:

    Kathy –

    These tips are great, I would suggest doing a did you know that you can do xxx in quickbase. This gives current users different ways to look at things and how to make thier Qbase better. I get all kinds of ideas from viewing other quickbases.

    Customer refferal program woould be awesome.

    [Reply]

    Kathleen Lamphier Reply:

    Hi Robin,
    Thanks for your suggestion of calling out examples of how to implement these tips using QuickBase. Great idea. I’ll work on that. How do you use QuickBase?

    [Reply]

  • http://www.smartgrp.com Lou Brothers

    When acting as a project manager for clients I often find that spreadsheets predated my existence to track Risks, Issues, Action Items and even the Project Plan on occasion. Migrating these all to QuickBase and then using Dashboards and Notifications has really increased the quality and speed of updates. Since everyone can see the information that pertains specifically to them they can focus on providing updates and ignore the ‘noise’ from everyone else. QuickBase makes an excellent collaboration platform for projects.

    [Reply]

    Kathleen Lamphier Reply:

    Lou – thanks for calling out dashboards and notifications – they are definitely sweet features of QuickBase. Can you say a bit more about how QuickBase has helped the quality of the project updates?

    [Reply]

    Robin Hall Reply:

    Kathy –

    These tips are great, I would suggest doing a did you know that you can do xxx in quickbase. This gives current users different ways to look at things and how to make thier Qbase better. I get all kinds of ideas from viewing other quickbases.

    Customer refferal program woould be awesome.

    [Reply]

    Kathleen Lamphier Reply:

    Hi Robin,
    Thanks for your suggestion of calling out examples of how to implement these tips using QuickBase. Great idea. I’ll work on that. How do you use QuickBase?

    [Reply]

  • Ross Honeyfield

    We used to have various spreadsheets for a product shipping schedules. Each spreadsheet would have an estimated ship date, product, quantity, line #, delivery date, and destination. Many times our customer would call and add or modify orders which meant we had to update the spreadsheets and then email them out to everyone. Now, we have our shipping schedules on Quickbase. It’s easy for our team members to view upcoming and past shipments for all sites in real time. If a change is made, they get email notifications. The database has even morphed itself into a shipping document management system too. For each shipment, we can view Bills of Ladings, etc.. Quickbase has been a real help in team collaboration and efficiency.

    [Reply]

    Kathleen Lamphier Reply:

    Ross – Thanks for mentioning document management. It must be a lot easier to have the documents related to a specific shipment actually linked to that shipment versus hunting around in emails and desktop file folders to find them. And wow, I’m just thinking about how many updates and emails could be happening in one day if there were a lot of calls to add/modify orders on the same day.

    [Reply]

  • Ross Honeyfield

    We used to have various spreadsheets for a product shipping schedules. Each spreadsheet would have an estimated ship date, product, quantity, line #, delivery date, and destination. Many times our customer would call and add or modify orders which meant we had to update the spreadsheets and then email them out to everyone. Now, we have our shipping schedules on Quickbase. It’s easy for our team members to view upcoming and past shipments for all sites in real time. If a change is made, they get email notifications. The database has even morphed itself into a shipping document management system too. For each shipment, we can view Bills of Ladings, etc.. Quickbase has been a real help in team collaboration and efficiency.

    [Reply]

    Kathleen Lamphier Reply:

    Ross – Thanks for mentioning document management. It must be a lot easier to have the documents related to a specific shipment actually linked to that shipment versus hunting around in emails and desktop file folders to find them. And wow, I’m just thinking about how many updates and emails could be happening in one day if there were a lot of calls to add/modify orders on the same day.

    [Reply]

  • Ben Tune

    We used an Excel spreadsheet to track all of our projects until we moved to QuickBase on 4/1. Then we kept all the details of each project in separate Word templates. QuickBase is helping us be more efficient because now we can enter and find projects much faster and all of the information is centralized.

    [Reply]

    Kathleen Lamphier Reply:

    Ben – I hear you, emailing spreadsheets and word documents around to communicate project details and having to reference both together to get a full view of a particular project sounds tricky. How much time do you think you and your team have saved by eliminating the spreadsheet and word document shuffling?

    [Reply]

  • Ben Tune

    We used an Excel spreadsheet to track all of our projects until we moved to QuickBase on 4/1. Then we kept all the details of each project in separate Word templates. QuickBase is helping us be more efficient because now we can enter and find projects much faster and all of the information is centralized.

    [Reply]

    Kathleen Lamphier Reply:

    Ben – I hear you, emailing spreadsheets and word documents around to communicate project details and having to reference both together to get a full view of a particular project sounds tricky. How much time do you think you and your team have saved by eliminating the spreadsheet and word document shuffling?

    [Reply]

  • Dylan Beadle

    We used to send these big spreadsheets as email attachments to the whole department on a reoccurring basis. Besides clogging up everyone’s inbox, we usually ended up referring to different versions once in a while, adding to the confusion. Another reason that pushed us into a better solution was that IT decided to strip our macro-based Excel files from the emails, sending us scrambling to find a solution around that new ‘policy’.

    I’m happy we ended up choosing Quickbase, eliminating a lot of the issues we had and adding a lot more new capabilities as well.

    [Reply]

    Kathleen Lamphier Reply:

    Dylan – Thanks for your example of how QuickBase helps keep your team on the same page. At past jobs I’ve had trouble getting a giant file attachment to download to my email when I was on the road. Did anyone on your team have that problem before QuickBase?

    [Reply]

  • Dylan Beadle

    We used to send these big spreadsheets as email attachments to the whole department on a reoccurring basis. Besides clogging up everyone’s inbox, we usually ended up referring to different versions once in a while, adding to the confusion. Another reason that pushed us into a better solution was that IT decided to strip our macro-based Excel files from the emails, sending us scrambling to find a solution around that new ‘policy’.

    I’m happy we ended up choosing Quickbase, eliminating a lot of the issues we had and adding a lot more new capabilities as well.

    [Reply]

    Kathleen Lamphier Reply:

    Dylan – Thanks for your example of how QuickBase helps keep your team on the same page. At past jobs I’ve had trouble getting a giant file attachment to download to my email when I was on the road. Did anyone on your team have that problem before QuickBase?

    [Reply]

  • Andrea Best

    Where to begin?! Our free clinic had several different methods to track the clients we helped. The medical clinic used a 2 table access database – not much more than a spreadsheet, to track clients and visits. The dental clinic had a one table access database, and only tracked summary visit information. The food bank and other assistance used a paper notebook. Nobody could communicate with each other about who our client base was. Monthly and annual reporting was umm maybe not as accurate or consistant as we would like. With Quickbase, I was able to bring it all together. Being Web based allowed each site to access the same Client table (Current phone numbers! YES!!!). All visits and detail can be tracked. Now we can accurately report who we are helping.

    [Reply]

    Kathleen Lamphier Reply:

    Andrea – Wow, thank you for sharing your story. I’m excited that QuickBase is helping your free clinic more easily report on who you are helping – and making it easier to update and share client contact information. I imagine centralized, current information can make it easier to refer a client to another group to get additional assistance. And the client would only have to provide their information one time to one group which saves your client time too.

    [Reply]

  • Andrea Best

    Where to begin?! Our free clinic had several different methods to track the clients we helped. The medical clinic used a 2 table access database – not much more than a spreadsheet, to track clients and visits. The dental clinic had a one table access database, and only tracked summary visit information. The food bank and other assistance used a paper notebook. Nobody could communicate with each other about who our client base was. Monthly and annual reporting was umm maybe not as accurate or consistant as we would like. With Quickbase, I was able to bring it all together. Being Web based allowed each site to access the same Client table (Current phone numbers! YES!!!). All visits and detail can be tracked. Now we can accurately report who we are helping.

    [Reply]

    Kathleen Lamphier Reply:

    Andrea – Wow, thank you for sharing your story. I’m excited that QuickBase is helping your free clinic more easily report on who you are helping – and making it easier to update and share client contact information. I imagine centralized, current information can make it easier to refer a client to another group to get additional assistance. And the client would only have to provide their information one time to one group which saves your client time too.

    [Reply]

  • http://quickbase.intuit.com/ Kathleen Lamphier

    Thank you all so much for sharing your experiences – and for reading my blog post. I will contact each of you by email to get you your Starbucks card.

    By the way, QuickBase, was selected as a finalist for the 2009 Webware 100 Award – productivity category .

    Please feel free to vote for us at http://www.cnet.com/html/ww/100/2009/poll/productivity.html

    [Reply]

  • http://quickbase.intuit.com Kathleen Lamphier

    Thank you all so much for sharing your experiences – and for reading my blog post. I will contact each of you by email to get you your Starbucks card.

    By the way, QuickBase, was selected as a finalist for the 2009 Webware 100 Award – productivity category .

    Please feel free to vote for us at http://www.cnet.com/html/ww/100/2009/poll/productivity.html

    [Reply]

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    A number of valuable web based software solutions are available online; which can improve the operation of a busy office or practice.

    To combat the loss in revenues, resulting from missed meetings and appointments (to both clients and practioners), some professionals have utilized a web based room scheduling software or appointment scheduling software; to monitor client meetings and appointments.

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    [Reply]

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    Emailing spreadsheets is a project work-around, not an effective means for managing work. The best alternative is an online project management application that centralizes project information, provides all team members with secure access to the information they need—whenever and wherever they need it—streamlines data gathering, tracking and communication, and makes it easy to stay on the same page and easy to monitor progress.

    [Reply]

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