Event management software comes in all shapes and sizes, but do any really compare to Microsoft Excel?
In many people's estimation these days, if a software solution is new and seemingly improved as opposed to being tried and tested it may receive a more favourable welcome. Even more so if it seems, dare I say it, easy.
But as many who really know value when they see it, if an endeavour doesn't require hard work and authentic labour to get you the results, then it's probably missing something, or rather quite a lot.
Event management is a heavily bureaucratic environment, with the hefty burden of official documentation and formal communication playing a large part in the daily routine.
With multiple stakeholders involved in delivering any event programme or project, the demand for: collating, assembling, condensing, analysing and reporting on every performance metric and presenting before an audience of multiple collaborators, all within a short space of time is huge.
Many modern-day technological solutions and applications offer apparent advantages and efficiencies for a busy event professional with almost instant plug-in-and-play responsiveness. But where do they measure up to the malleability of a tool with the many facets of Microsoft Excel?
Some key advantages to using Microsoft Excel for event management documentation
Being able to programme a computer to do exactly what you want it to do surely is the point!
Whilst many software applications built especially for event management handling have a relatively wide array of functionality, none offer the real capabilities afforded by Excel to really get document looking and working how you need them to.
Everything from aesthetic designs to match the corporate identity of your organisation, to functional nuances serving the most appropriately tailored insights and dashboard summaries to the stakeholders involved is possible in Excel.
Whilst cloud based applications are accessible on an online subscription basis for users, Excel is a desktop based software which most computers in a commercial environment will already have installed as default.
The ability to manage/control, with delegating of permission, the reading and editing of Excel files by end users of all kinds can be easily achieved with Excel password protection measures.
(3) Import/Export [Working With External Data]
One of the most frustrating issues when working with 3rd party cloud-based software applications is the inability or perhaps unwillingness to all you to import and export universal file formats of data.
Many have user packages which are defined by activity levels and often only after gaining irreplaceable momentum with using such an online app, do you find a stumbling block of having breached your budgeted threshold of service provision and being unable to seamlessly export your data for continuity of business elsewhere.
Such hitches are very much counterproductive and in many cases can cause you to incur tangible damages to the management of your event.
(4) Software Automation and Integration
The value proposition of using cloud-based event management software applications often is heavily reliant upon in-built automation efficiencies.
APIs (or Application Programming Interfaces) also offer the opportunity for users (with the help of a computer programmer) to blend the proposed benefits of their choice event management solution with the functionality of familiar softwares which users are already subscribed to, such as Gmail (for email integration), for example.
Again, whilst typically simple to bolt on in this way with the cloud-based variety of tools, Microsoft Excel has its own in-built automation and integration language called Visual Basic VBA or Macro.
This language can be scripted to perform almost countless functions which in themselves can produce great commercial benefit in event based management environments.
(5) Conditional formatting
With reporting and written management communications, being able to clearly and distinctly discern one set of facts or figures from another within one document can make all the difference in understanding or ready identification under pressure.
Most online apps offer some degree of formatting, mostly in the way of preset formats. Yet rarely do they offer the ability to configure exactly what shape the formats take when specific conditions are met.
Microsoft Excel has highly effective formatting settings which are calibrated by the user to signify that one set of conditions or another are being or have been met.
(6) Cell Styling
Where there are a certain collection of figures which are collated in a table even perhaps, cell styling can make all the difference to ease of reading for your end users.
There are 'very comfortable to look at' presets of cell styling which within the click of a button you can drastically renovate the appearance of an otherwise drab looking report, and encourage a more enthused response from your stakeholders in that meeting which always overruns, or ends in loggerheads.
(7) Sort and Filter
Raw data needs a fair bit of pulling around in order to make it 'make sense' to most readers. The sort and filter functions in Excel are a great instant deck shuffler for most situations where you need to instill wholesale re-ordering within a click.
Many degrees deep you can choose by which column and criteria you wish to have your data skewed. Smallest to largest and A-Z are the common themes in these cases.
(8) Pivot Tables
If you want to drill down into your data for your audience, in order to draw out meaningful insights and analyses, then Pivot Tables are your function.
Pivot Tables are ideal for summaries and providing sliced snapshots of a busy project or business operation.
You can tailor pivot tables to extract exactly the information you want and pull them into shape, complete with conditional formatting (...and more) for your viewers ease of use.
Regardless of how digestible most reports are, a well-appointed illustration here or there to...well... 'illustrate' the point...can make all the difference to granting your readers understanding.
An arrow or directional pointer here or there, shapes or banners, for example - whatsoever would simply convey the message can easily be inserted within Excel, in situ, whilst the report is being created.
This feature is not commonly found in web-based management software.
Charting in Excel is a native and very well configured function.
The conversion of your typical or ad-hoc datasets into 'glance-simple', bite-sized schematic overviews is a core competency of Microsoft Excel. This has historically been performed with ease by Excel.
Staple graphical outputs are classically: pie charts, line graphs, bar charts...etc.
Again, highly customisable presentation, allows an entirely tailored construction process for the user.
(11) HTML Hyperlinks
Ever need to integrate HTML hyperlinks for online reference documents within your management summaries and reports?
MS Excel allows you to hyperlink objects, images and text however you like. This is not so neat a function in cloud-based software applications.
(12) Page Layout
Custom page layouts are easily performed by Excel, with the classic settings such as portrait or landscape available.
More complex adjustments such as configuring exact page dimensions are also possible, alongside inserting background images within worksheets, custom headers and footers etc. to add professional framing to the enclosed detail.
(13) Arranging Page Elements
Page elements can be arranged one in relation to one another for achieving the most impactful impression. Layers of page elements can be sorted in the pane viewer.
This page arrangement control ensures the most aesthetically pleasing end product for your digital management documentation. Compared with most web-based apps, Excel's ability to compose multi-layered elements in your reporting goes far & beyond.
Multifaceted number crunching is a known strength of MS Excel.
Most cloud-based management apps are simply not as vari-functioned as Excel, which is very much in a league of its own. Covering all types of advanced mathematical hoop jumping, it also is pre-programmed to handle advanced financial, logical, date & time, text and lookup/reference functions.
With intra & inter-calculating sheets, Excel offers the most integrity and yet advanced handling of any event management software.
(15) Duplication Removal
Databasing wouldn't be databasing without a heavy incidence of duplicate entries.
With a keen eye for data quality and accurate report summaries for well-informed decision making, you'll want to make the most of this function.
Project based datasets are always under scrutiny for quality, especially when you have a multi-disciplinary team of business partners in allied management functions like marketing, finance etc. who also are under pressure to get their numbers right.
Dupes skew the picture and can mislead giving false impressions and interpretations. Excel cuts this out.
Data entry is often the root cause of failure in data quality with projects.
Multi-stakeholder entry points for data and free text input fields leads to cumulative grey areas and loss of data integrity. Untenable data legacy problems can permeate, leading to almost unending quality problems ongoing.
Pre-defining the entry criteria with preset dropdown options restricts data to being within a predictable range, thus users are not permitted to enter unrecognisable entries into database.
The validation setting in Excel allows for such a dropdown selection of options, entirely programmable according to your unique requirements.
Annotations in the right doses can add an informative impetus to keep users understanding the functioning of the templates.
Either rollover or click to pop up - comments within Excel are attributed to the editor and are hidden to allow an uncluttered view of the report...whilst leading the reader into a much clearer picture.
Protection of content and version control keeps the publication of your event management documents orderly.
With multiple individuals involved with drafting and updating of event management documentation, having continuous logs on who makes version changes and highlighting what changes are made, date stamped, will grant an audit history of authorship activity.
Delegating permission for who is able to alter information within any given document is important for controlling the informational trustworthiness of any project. Within Excel, passwords may be assigned for the protection of cells, sheets or workbooks accordingly.
Where can you find ready-made, Excel software-based management tools?
Selmore Event Hire has developed an exclusively available suite of Excel software management tools for event management professionals, which are available by download.
They are highly customised and built using industry standard project management methodology.
Categorised in: A Guide To Event Business Management
This post was written by selmore