A Spreadsheet Is Not A Database

A Spreadsheet Is Not A Database

There are some serious misconceptions about how to best use certain types of software. It’s rather common now to see CEOs, financial wizards and others use presentation software as simply a place for their notes. Too often, what’s on the screen could have been given to the audience members to read instead of the presentation software being used as it was intended; To visually augment what is being said. All those bullet points on all those screens … it’s just not right.

Likewise, many office workers and managers look at a spreadsheet program as a database instead of the accounting tool it was meant as. The first spreadsheet program was called VisiCalc and, as it’s name implies, its intent was for calculating visually. It was never intended to simply hold data. However, that’s what many people use it for. They then wonder later why they can’t get it to do what’s necessary once growth occurs and other features are needed.

A database can not only store data in table structures, those structures can also be made “relational”. An table containing orders might only contain the order number and the date it was initiated. Another table might provide customer names and addresses, simply because each customer might have multiple orders. Another table might then contain order details, or lists of the items within the orders listed in the Orders table. And finally, a view might tie all these together so each individual order can be viewed as a single record.

A spreadsheet can’t do that, because a spreadsheet isn’t a database.

As in carpentry or auto work, computers are also best operated by using the right tool for the job. Maybe it’s time to step away from the spreadsheet.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *