Managing workflow outside the PM suite

Do people still use spreadsheets or databases to manage workflows and staff resourcing ?

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From recent posts on PM on Accounting web (particulary this great report by the esteemed editor in chief) , I am curious as to how others manage workflow outside of their software, assuming that their "preferred" software features for workflow and staff resourcing (ie year end, VAT, Mgt accounts & Tax deadlines) are either inadequate or too complicated for staff to use. Not really interested in another app just for workflow, per se.

Does anyone still use spreadsheets? 

Replies (5)

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By Moonbeam
23rd Jul 2021 09:56

As a one person business, with no-one else to manage, spreadsheets are fine to manage my workflow.
However, once I got some staff on board, I would want something in the cloud to do that.

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By tom123
23rd Jul 2021 12:11

In the big wide world that is not practice, we use whiteboards, printouts etc.

Beware that computers can be a bit "out of sight out of mind"

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Replying to tom123:
By Hugo Fair
23rd Jul 2021 12:43

Whiteboards are still the most flexible/responsive methodology ... unless you're prepared to invest in expensive software (and the resources to manage it).
Why? Because any system (paper, spreadsheets, etc) is fine for setting out the schedule at the beginning, but things never go quite to plan do they! So what you need is something that can be easily adapted in the light of updated news/statuses ... which is where a big, grown-up planning/scheduling package comes into its own.
But in a smaller (typically one-office) environment, a whiteboard provides all the same benefits (whilst relying on you to make sensible choices for re-scheduling) for next to no cost ... and provides a constant reminder to everyone of progress.

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23rd Jul 2021 13:55

You are right in that all to often PM software, because of excessive complexity, become the job, rather than working on what the client needs.

I never understood why the PM companies do not offer a lite or menu version of their product, so that you can strip out the parts that you will not use, and be left with something intuitive to use, at a price that is a little more taxfiler (pre IRIS).

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27th Jul 2021 11:30

I used a spreadsheet to manage practice deadlines, my staff (4 of them) each used a spreadsheet to manage their own work-load.

Never had a problem, my staff and myself could quickly see where we were up to, what needing doing next etc.

Workflow company software eg: Monday that I see advertise a lot, bank on the fact that most people don't know how to put together a decent spreadsheet. Same reason for bookkeeping too, most of our small clients were all on bookkeeping spreadsheets too, which we found a lot more profitable and faster to do the bookkeeping and do year end accounts from. Again, its all about what your spreadsheet looks like and what it does, rather than spreadsheets being good/bad per se.

I did however use PM for timesheets, and for sucking in data from Companies House, plus Co Sec work such as board minutes creation and dividend vouchers as they are quicker than faffing around with template Word docs (that staff might accidentally still leave last year's date on, or the previous clients address!). I would have had to spend weeks developing macros to generate lock-up reports from Excel, and other reports, so I left that for the PM software. I wouldn't have used the deadline system (in IRIS or Keytime, having seen and used them both in the past) as they take too long to complete, and from my experience, are onerous to check they are up to date and staff hate them more than spreadsheets from my experience.

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