Using SaaS to get rid of those spreadsheets!

August 15, 2023

There is a time and a place for spreadsheets. Don't get me wrong - Excel and other spreadsheet applications are very good at what they do. I've even seen games being reproduced in them. When it comes to managing contacts, sales pipelines, tasks and project management, there are far better options out there in the form of Software as a Service (SaaS), and they won't cost you as much as you think. Let me explain.

Excel is excellent - for some things....

Excel has always come bundled with Microsoft Office. Microsoft Office licensing has never exactly been 'cheap', so if you are a small or medium-sized enterprise (SME), of course you are going to use the software that you've just spent money on to get as much as you can out of it. This is especially so when you search for software to achieve a particular task (for example, a Customer Relationship Management solution), and the licence fee goes into the hundreds, possibly thousands.

However, we now work in a more user-centric cloud based environment. Software as a Service (SaaS) and integrations give SMEs more choice in how to make software work for them, rather than making the company work around the software. This in turn gives users more control over what they use (so long as administrators are happy for them to use certain features), resulting in higher levels of productivity.

Spreadsheets are boring

Which brings me back to the topic of this blog post. Let's face it, spreadsheets can be very boring to use when managing contacts, tasks and projects. It may be easy, and it may be convenient, but is that because that's "the way you've always done it"?

I've been in business coming up to three years. I've used a spreadsheet to calculate turnover and costs, profit, how much tax I owe and how much I can pay myself each month. I hate it, but I've yet to find something that will replace this. What I don't use spreadsheets for is managing contacts, finding out what tasks I have outstanding and when my projects are due. I find myself a lot more productive using products that are developed solely for certain business functions. They are all browser based, so it's as easy as switching tabs to get to the services I need.

Using SaaS

There are plenty of SaaS products out there that will help you be more productive with certain business processes. Here are a few tips to help you get started.

  • Managing contacts - A Customer Relationship Management (CRM) would be your best option here. There are many CRM products out there, such as HubSpot, Close and Arkflux.
  • Managing Digital Marketing campaigns - Most CRMs will also offer a Digital Marketing System feature of some kind included, or as an additional paid feature. However, some products like HubSpot and MailChimp will offer services predominately focused on Digital Marketing and engagement.
  • Project Management - Project Management Software (PMS) is a great solution to replace your spreadsheets. PMS can be a difficult choice to make, largely because different industries operate in different ways. I personally like Notion - not only is it lightweight and user-friendly, but it is also completely customisable to how you want your project management to look like. There are other tools that SMEs can use to manage their projects, such as Trello or Monday.
  • Task Management - As projects rely on tasks, most PMSs will offer task management as part of the package. However, if you're not ready for a full Project Management solution, there are some free tools out there which will help. Microsoft offers a tool called "To-Do", while services like Trello will allow you to create tasks that you can assign due dates to and receive notifications when tasks are due or overdue.

Free vs Paid SaaS

A lot of the products I've mentioned above offer a free version. For some companies, free is all you will need, but you might find yourself needing (or even wanting) to use some of the more advanced features the product has to offer. If you do end up spending money, look at the next level up from free. I find most of those subscription levels to be very cost-effective. Let me give you an example - HubSpot CRM Starter Suite will cost you around £30-£35 a month which will give you a lot of great features, which I personally feel is very good value. If you just want to use the "Sales Hub", you are probably looking around the £15-£20 price point. That's not bad at all.

Now is a great time to get rid of those spreadsheets and get productive!

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