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Is Excel Right for Managing HR Department Data?

August 8, 2014 Evan Webster  
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The popularity of Microsoft® Excel® within Human Resource (HR) departments is undisputed: 90% of HR professionals use Excel to accomplish their daily tasks, according to a 2012 WorldatWork/Deloitte consulting survey.

The application’s flexibility, user-friendliness and powerful modeling and analysis capabilities make it ideal for most HR processes.

For example, models, formulas and spreadsheets can be adjusted on the fly in Excel to fit the specific and evolving needs of any company.

Additionally, Excel’s powerful modeling and analysis capabilities are so easy to use that professionals with widely ranging languages, skill sets and accessibility needs have become deeply familiar with the application.

As a result, external consultants are not required to maintain the hundreds, if not thousands, of spreadsheets and workbooks many companies have on hand.


The most important components of HR technology

In a recent post on, Meghan M. Biro explains that in order to recruit, retain and engage the highest quality talent, companies need to adopt user-friendly, cost effective HR solutions that are flexible enough to meet their specific needs.

She recommends that companies:

1. Match their needs to the technology.

An increasing number of vendors are touting the advantages of new, sophisticated technology that has been specifically designed for HR’s use.

However, only after spending vast amounts of money and resources do companies find out that many of these solutions are too broad, rigid or specialized to meet their needs.

Biro points out that companies need to use software that is right for them and meets their unique needs, rather than give in to the temptation to purchase the most recent or advanced solution on the market.

2. Look for smart, often simple, solutions that are user-friendly and deliver targeted results.

Biro points out that the past two decades were characterized by rapid technological growth and breakthrough products that changed the way businesses operate. However, research indicates that companies are becoming increasingly interested in the refinement of core technologies rather than innovative products.

Biro encourages companies to stay away from technology vendors selling fancy, complicated solutions because they can be difficult to implement and require IT and/or consultant intervention for changes.

Biro suggests that, before purchasing a product, companies examine its core deliverables and determine whether it will be easy to use and support the creation of stronger, more efficient teams.

3. Ask themselves: Is it easy to implement? Will employees adopt it?

Biro stresses that if technology is overly complicated or is not user-friendly, employees may not want to use the solution.

4. Ensure the solution helps, rather than hinders, data analysis.

Biro points out that software analytics, single stack software and any tool that enables teams to collect data and share it with other departments with ease and consistency leads to good decision-making.

The faster information can be distributed and analyzed, the faster departments can come up with good questions and receive informed answers.

HR departments benefit from analytics and software that give them real-time insight into their company.

To Excel or not to Excel?

Excel meets the above criteria, but it is a relatively fragile application that is unable to support communication or provide users with access to real-time data. In addition, the application’s lack of version control can result in serious errors slipping through the cracks.

What if there was a way to remove these limitations so that HR departments could continue to benefit from Excel’s flexibility and the investments their companies have already made in the application?

There is a solution that enables users to stay in Excel while offering a central data repository, a workflow engine, business rules and a range of other features that many HRIS solutions have.

Click here to read the full article.

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