5 Reasons to Stop Using Spreadsheets for Critical Event Planning

Over the years, the main tools used for critical event planning in financial services have remained more or less the same. Until recently, spreadsheets coupled with emails, meetings and phone calls have been the best available tools for event orchestration. But with newer, more innovative methods being developed, could it be time to move on from spreadsheets?

We can give you five good reasons to stop using spreadsheets for critical event planning:

1. They’re not made for collaboration

Spreadsheets can be a great tool for individuals to record and organize data, but critical events require input from multiple parties. Plans created by committee usually require getting everyone together in a room to provide their input and an event organizer bringing this information together into one coherent plan, then going back to the group for feedback. All of this is time consuming, expensive and complicated. A more collaborative planning tool would reduce a lot of the organizational efforts in this area.

2. They’re two-dimensional

Plans made on spreadsheets are really just repositories of data, with the plans made up of prescribed activities and times. When something has to be changed during a run, such as timings, this is only shown in a spreadsheet if it is updated manually, which is laborious and time consuming. If spreadsheets are not kept up to date manually, people will be working from incorrect data. Spreadsheets are flat rather than dynamic and become out of date as soon as reality deviates from the plan, which could cause tasks to be done at the wrong time or in the wrong order.

3. Comms aren’t built in

Not only is the data decentralized, but keeping everyone up to date and ensuring that the event is on track is difficult. Spreadsheets are really no more than two-dimensional to-do lists that need to be coupled with other forms of communication to make up an event. However, phone calls are difficult to coordinate with large numbers of people and for emails to be effective users would need to be constantly monitoring their inbox. If the plan has to change or something goes wrong, the effort involved in keeping people informed causes even more time to be wasted, further exacerbating the problem.

4. They’re admin-heavy

All of these issues add up to an increased administrative burden for the event lead. Tasks such as manually updating planned timings and emailing or calling everyone to check on them take up valuable time and can be distractions from the big picture. This can be extremely frustrating and increase the risk of event failure.

5. Audit and compliance can cause headaches

Even after the event, spreadsheets continue to cause problems. Piecing together the event after the fact using only the information from spreadsheets (where the planned timings and decisions may not match what happened in reality), emails, phone records and human memory is a laborious task that is unlikely to yield the most accurate results. Endless meetings and work on reconstructing the event immediately after the long and stressful weekend will exhaust the already overworked event team.

The level of manual intervention required to keep spreadsheet plans updated means this data may not always be reliable for audit purposes. Spreadsheets also do not capture information on why decisions were made, making it harder to learn from mistakes and avoid repeating them.

Need one more reason?

6. There’s a better alternative

Cutover is an enterprise SaaS solution that allows teams to plan, rehearse, run and analyze an event on one centralized, collaborative platform. Teams can plan and rehearse their activities directly within the platform, collaborating remotely and always with a single, dynamic version of the plan.

During the live event, users and stakeholders get real-time communications via automated SMS and emails to know when things have kicked off and which activities are up next. Live status dashboards are provided to the event manager, executives and stakeholders in real time.

A black-box system of record enables an audit trail for the purposes of regulation, post-event analysis and learning, without the need for laborious reconstruction.

Using Cutover for critical events planning in the place of spreadsheets and other manual methods reduces the time and effort involved and increases the likelihood of success through human and machine orchestration.

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