Let me start off by saying that this blog is in no way meant to bash Microsoft Excel—at least, not in a way that is completely disparaging. It’s more about being forced to use a program like Excel for something that it’s not designed for, something I’m sure all of us can relate to on some level.
For instance, in speaking with my marketing associates, they always seem to lose their collective minds when asked to create a visually appealing document using Microsoft Word—a great program in its own right, just not for design. Excel is no different. Designed originally for financial applications, the spreadsheet program can do some truly magical things, but trying to use it to manage workflows in a professional service team environment is a little like using a shovel to dig a new highway—too much work with poor results and even worse timing.
However, for so many service team professionals, this is exactly the world they are forced to live in. Relegated to the back rooms of their company with little or no infrastructure to manage their teams and service work, yet still required to meet deadlines, manage a budget, and project the right brand persona to their customers.
But there is hope. With so much new technology on the rise, the days of forcing square pegs into round holes (as it relates to using ill-fitting software) seem to be on the decline. In part, this is due to having more solutions to choose from and to the ever-increasing need for metrics and business intelligence. In short, necessity breeds ingenuity, eventually.
For service teams around the world, this provides a light at the end of the proverbial tunnel. No longer do they need to bend business processes to fit program uses that sit far outside the scope they are meant for, nor do they need to suffer the wrath of management because they lack system-based accountability.
With the advent of service team automation platforms, creating and adhering to highly defined processes that enable true measurement and management can be done without headache or heartache.
There is, of course, a warning that goes along with this, however. When choosing the right service team automation solution, make sure you vet the product beforehand. My advice: for one, make sure the platform has been used by manufacturing teams around the world. This global usage and inherent manufacturing appeal can speak volumes because it means the solution is flexible enough to address everything from type of manufacturer and type of service team to social and cultural work habits, expectations and more—something a spreadsheet or ERP or CRM RMA module will never be able to do.
Most importantly, make sure the solution is actually purpose-built for the job at hand—cultivated using specific input from the world’s top manufacturers and their service teams—and encompasses the feature sets and capabilities that are relevant to real-world service and repair teams.
In short, the personal hell of Microsoft Excel is now a thing of the past, as long as you choose wisely.