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  • Writer's pictureRachel Flood

5 Steps To Better Business Systems - Introducing the Stop Using Spreadsheets Method.

Raise your hand if you would like to spend less time on reporting, feel more connected to your long-term vision, and finally get ahead on your to-do list!

Over the last 20 years of working in operations and system design, I have created a 5 step repeatable process to help folks do just that! This approach has become an essential part of my client practice, and I want to share it with you, so you too can start your journey to a more efficient and effective way of doing your work!

This 5 step repeatable process can be applied to any initiative and will help you to dig deep into your needs, better understand your goals, be confident in how to best use your tech tools, create processes that integrate your data and files, and create a culture of continual process improvement.

Using the SUS Method I have helped many small-but-mighty shops like Elektra Women's Choir to clear out the noise of disorganized systems and create the organizational (and mental) space to focus on what matters!

I created the SUS method to give myself a repeatable framework that I could optimize for the operations redesign projects that I lead with my clients, and it is 1000% the secret to my success!

I have also found it to be nearly UNIVERSALLY applicable to doing work of any kind!

Be it a full ops redesign, a new project or strategic direction, or even a new process or cleanup project, the 5 steps of the SUS Method will give you the tools you need define how you plan to do what you want to do, how it will fit with what you are already doing, and how your software and tools can best support you, BEFORE you start doing it!

In other words this method can help you to SUS things out so you can take the best possible course of action from the outset!

Before starting any project or initiative simply work through these 5 steps:

  1. Discover what you need.

  2. Research what is possible.

  3. Design with data in mind.

  4. Implement together.

  5. Refine over time.

Working through 5 steps will help to clarify your goals, centralize your files and data, and make your reporting 1000x easier!

But ... what does that have to do with spreadsheets, right?!

The reason it is called the Stop Using Spreadsheets Method is because the very first place to start applying the SUS method is to use it to replace ALL of your spreadsheets!

Using spreadsheets for EVERYTHING is the #1 unifying characteristic of all of my clients.

Folks that come to me for help use spreadsheets for budgets, spreadsheets for project management, spreadsheets for contact management, spreadsheets for invoices, spreadsheet for time tracking or even spreadsheets of all of the different spreadsheets they use!

And after 20 years in operations design, I can tell you without a doubt that using spreadsheets for everything is the #1 sign that your systems are not working well!

Using too many spreadsheets means you spend too much time collating information for reporting or invoicing and you rely too heavily on manual data entry. It is also likely that your teams and programs are deeply siloed, your files are disorganized, and there is no clear big picture for anyone so frustrations are running high for everyone!

And from a data management perspective managing important data in spreadsheets is also super dangerous!

Research shows that 88% of ALL spreadsheets have errors in them. 88%!! That is a lot or errors!

Therefore the data in spreadsheets is unreliable and should ALWAYS be treated as suspicious! (or as the kids today say SUS!)

Your key metrics and information should be managed using a database instead of the spreadsheet. Databases have the controls you need to be sure your information is correct, whereas spreadsheets do not.

But if a spreadsheet isn't a database then what even is a database?!

Asana is a database. Quickbooks Online is a database. Hubspot is a database. There is structure built-in that defines how the information can be stored. There are rules (and audit logs) about how the information can be entered, deleted, added, or updated. AND who can do the entering, deleting, adding or updating!

Good databases also always have built-in reporting that will make your life easier! So trust me on this one, make the switch to using databases for your needs over spreadsheets now, and thank me later!

Does that seem daunting? Don't worry, the SUS Method will get you there.


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