Every business has to start somewhere, and in those early days money is everything. This is the main reason why so many new businesses decide not to jump into deep waters with unknown software, but instead keep their books in a format that has proven it can stand the test of time: spreadsheets. We do not fully approve the use of spreadsheets considering the boom in the use of cloud-based solutions, but they can serve as a good start for moving onto the cloud later on.
Creating Spreadsheets vs Spreadsheet Templates
Whether you choose to create your own spreadsheets or download templates from the internet is up to you; however, using spreadsheet templates is a little more convenient for many reasons. The most obvious is that keeping records in a pre-made spreadsheet templates saves your business valuable time – a luxury that making a spreadsheet from scratch won’t allow. Not only are these spreadsheets ready to use the moment they are downloaded, but their overall appearance immediately tells anyone what their purpose is, whether it’s an invoice, a ledger, an inventory, a journal or a business report.
In addition to that, these templates are created in the most widespread Excel file format, making them compatible with almost any program that can handle spreadsheets, like Smartsheet. And last but not least, pre-made spreadsheets are virtually anywhere: just type ‘business spreadsheets’ or anything similar into Google and you’ll be met with countless results, some of them even directing to pages where everything about managing business records is properly explained.
The Sharing Problem
Even if we admit that accounting done entirely via spreadsheets is still manageable, there is one thing young businesses will have to face sooner or later: real-time cooperation. Thankfully this problem can be solved as well, since cloud-based programs like Dropbox or Google Docs are capable of providing shared folders available for anyone with the right permissions. In fact, the entire concept of Smartsheet is based on the idea of being able to work on a spreadsheet that is already opened by another colleague. The same can be said about Office 365 which provides the well-known interface of the desktop Office programs combined with the convenience of the cloud.
The only problem with these solutions is that their update schedule is far from user-friendly: people using the same spreadsheet only get a notification when any of them modifies the document, meaning that multiple copies of the same file might end up in the shared folders, resulting in extra time wasted on the merging of different spreadsheets. Not to mention the dreaded domino effect, where one seemingly insignificant mistake is enough to confuse others and leave faulty records behind.
Spreadsheets in Online Accounting Software
The lack of partial automation and proper communication between different documents, not being able to work on the go, and not being warned if data is entered incorrectly to their respective boxes are some of the reasons why spreadsheet accounting is coming to an end. But when a business makes the big move to fully online accounting, all of these problems vanish.
With everything in the cloud, the moment a modification is made all co-workers can continue working on the updated data without the need to merge already opened projects, thus reducing the possibility of making an error down to zero. Cloud-based accounting also means mobility, since online accounting programs only need a browser or a mobile app to be able to continue the work even out of the office.
But the biggest reason for using accounting software is compatibility: spreadsheets can be either uploaded directly to the accounting solution after minor modifications or can be imported from another program thanks to clever integration options.