Why construction companies are no longer using Excel

Digital solutions to manage your tool park

why construction companies are no longer using excel

Within the construction sector, many businesses have been slow on the uptake of technology across their internal systems and processes. 

This means that many construction companies - from local tradesmen to large national businesses - often don’t have any way of tracking their assets, and those who do are frequently reliant on Excel spreadsheets to track their assets and manage their tool park. This approach, however, can lead to a number of construction site productivity and cost-related issues - particularly as companies grow their operations. 

As digital asset management systems become more widespread, this old way of thinking is now changing. In this blog, we’ll explore why construction companies are increasingly moving away from Excel spreadsheets to manage their tool parks.


Why do so many construction companies rely on Excel?

While there are more sophisticated systems available for managing a tool park, Excel is a useful option for smaller companies or new businesses who require a straightforward system to log their assets. 

Excel does tick a lot of boxes for companies in this sense. Not only are spreadsheets accessible to people across the business (in theory), but the software itself is free to use, and most people have at least a basic understanding of how to operate Excel. 

By virtue of providing completely blank spreadsheets, Excel is also highly customisable, as businesses can include their own fields and columns depending on their specific requirements and the information they want to log. This is particularly useful if businesses want to keep track of service checks on their assets, alongside costs of tools. Unfortunately, as soon as a company starts to grow, this becomes quickly insufficient. 

Ultimately, Excel is so widely used in the construction industry due to convenience. It’s only over time that the limitations of spreadsheets become visible. 


What are the issues associated with using Excel for tool park management?

The major problem with using Excel to manage assets is that it doesn’t actually provide an effective or viable solution to the task you are trying to perform. 

At its core, this is because Excel spreadsheets are impossible to keep permanently up-to-date. Most companies who use Excel to manage their tool park assign one person the task of managing the spreadsheet. If that person is busy with other tasks, not in constant contact with workers, or away from their desk for any period of time, the sheet quickly becomes out of date. This can be understandably frustrating for everyone - with warehouse staff feeling under pressure as workers struggle to find the tools they want. 

Over time, Excel sheets start to contain more and more gaps in knowledge - particularly as columns get added or removed, and different factors become important to a business. In fact, 90% of large Excel spreadsheets contain significant errors - meaning they are simply not reliable or trustworthy. 

This is often due to human error. For example, information like purchasing costs may be logged from the beginning, but other details, such as repair costs and dates, as well as maintenance schedules, may be missing for older tools if these categories are added at a later date. Often the person who initially created the spreadsheet is not familiar with all the needs of an effective asset management strategy and will miss vital information, which can’t be found at a later date. 

When it comes to auditing and compliance, this can be a real issue, as there is no central source of certification and maintenance records. 

This means that, as a central log of your assets, Excel spreadsheets are never an accurate representation of your tool park. In essence, the system becomes an outdated list of your tools, as opposed to an effective database of information.


Why are businesses seeking change now?

There are a number of reasons for construction companies starting to embrace digital asset management systems. The range of options available now means that businesses don’t have to stick blindly with Excel. 

More significantly, however, due to the increased pressure to reduce costs and improve productivity, companies are seeking answers across their operations. 

Often it’s not always apparent that Excel is the source of the company’s productivity issues, because the system is so ingrained within the business and the symptoms can be expansive. For many companies, it only really starts to become apparent that the system is not working when they start to explore questions regarding productivity and cost in depth. 

By exploring these questions, more and more construction companies are finding that the answers lie in their approach to asset management. In many businesses, due to the above issues with Excel spreadsheets, their asset management has become an obligation as opposed to an effective system for managing the tool park.

What are the benefits of a digital asset management system?

Companies switching from Excel to a digital asset management system are finding a range of benefits, which extend beyond increased productivity and reduced costs. 

On-site, construction workers are able to find and access tools faster, due to the asset management system being capable of tracking tools. This provides workers with up-to-date information on the whereabouts and status of every asset - not only increasing construction site productivity, but helping to reduce stress for both workers and warehouse managers. 

For warehouse staff, asset management systems provide a range of benefits - particularly in terms of documentation and administration. A good digital asset management system will provide a centralised database for documents and certifications, making it easy to confirm the safety of tools before starting on a construction site or conducting an audit. 

At a management level, optimising the way assets are managed improves productivity and efficiency, which leads to reduced downtime and increased profits. Enhanced organisation also helps to create a professional culture, which is both essential for growth and for presenting a positive corporate image to partners, staff and clients. 

These various benefits of digital asset management software mean that more and more construction companies are moving away from Excel spreadsheets towards a more efficient and effective solution. 

At Hilti, our productivity experts have helped thousands of Hilti customers to streamline their tool parks and optimise the way their assets are managed. By identifying the areas of waste in your business, and the hidden costs throughout your tool park, we can help you to make changes that will improve productivity while reducing your costs.


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