Four reasons why you shouldn’t be using a spreadsheet to Manage your Restaurant

There was a time that the humble spreadsheet was the go-to tool for handling the large amounts of data associated with running a restaurant. However, as technology changes, new and more efficient methods of handling that data have emerged, including integrated systems that can deal with this data in a more secure and effective manner.

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But using a spreadsheet is not simply outdated, it can even be dangerous for your business! Here are four reasons why you shouldn’t be using a spreadsheet to manage your restaurant.

They are useless for tracking changeable quantities

Before we get too negative, it is worth pointing out that spreadsheets are actually pretty good at doing what they are designed to do, which is tracking fixed and discrete parcels of data over time.

What they are not good at, however, is tracking changeable quantities, and this is where their service falls apart. If you run a restaurant business, you’re going to have plenty of changeable quantities, such as wholesaler ingredient prices and stock volumes. It takes a lot of manual work to keep track of these quantities and to keep your spreadsheet up to date, and you should count yourself lucky if no errors slip through the net!

An integrated system that tracks your suppliers’ prices and updates your records accordingly will eliminate this risk.

They are prone to data corruption

Data corruption in a spreadsheet is like the Alien in the movie with Sigourney Weaver; it is difficult to track, difficult to identify (until it’s too late) and can cause untold damage. Data corruption occurs when the wrong information is logged into the system. This information is then fed through calculation after calculation until it has spread like a virus and corrupted all of your data.

Corrupted data leads to a reduction in profit, which can do tremendous harm to your business if left unchecked. The key to avoiding such a catastrophe is not to use a spreadsheet at all, instead opting for a system which is less vulnerable and can analyze discrepancies quickly and effectively, rooting out the cause of the corruption automatically.

It can take ages to correct an error

Restaurant businesses need to handle vast amounts of data. Inputting and then maintaining this data in a spreadsheet is a cumbersome and unwieldy process and can make identifying mistakes or discrepancies in the data difficult. It might be hours or even days before you realize something is up with your spreadsheet, by which time a great deal of costly damage has already been done.

Unless you plan to employ a team of people to scour your spreadsheet on a daily basis, checking and re-checking for errors, it is very difficult to root out potentially harmful discrepancies. If the wrong quantity is added or the data is corrupted, this error becomes buried in the spreadsheet when the next set of data is added, and then concealed again by the next set and so on. It is still there, messing up your calculations, but it is difficult to find and put right.

Integrated data handling systems make it far easier to find errors in inputted data, and can correct these errors in no time.

They are inefficient

Maintaining a spreadsheet is labor-intensive and requires direct human input to record data. This in itself is an inefficient process, and ties up a member, or members, of your staff that could be working on other, more useful tasks.

The amount of labor increases when you’re trying to find and rectify a problem with your data. Your team will need to waste valuable working hours scouring the data and trying to salvage as much as possible, and the whole process will become an exercise in damage limitation.

In order to boost efficiency and maximize profits, restaurant businesses need to move away from traditional spreadsheets. Integrated systems analyze and handle data more effectively, updating automatically and freeing up extra working hours that can be spent on other areas of your business.

Additional information: Image courtesy of cooldesign at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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