When Excel is not the best choice

When Excel is not the best choice

Microsoft Excelis without a doubt the most famous software in the world for managing spreadsheets. With Excel we can process data at a full 360°: organise in tables, display in graphs, calculate with matrix formulas, 3D formulas, nested formulas and much, much more.

In short, to paraphrase a well-known commercial, we could easily say “where would the world be without Excel!”.

So, what’s the problem?

Well, there are cases where using Excel isn’t exactly the most functional, simply because it was designed for different purposes! Would you ever try to unscrew a screw using a knife? Of course, maybe after a few attempts and a little effort you might succeed. But why not just use a screwdriver?

Using a less suitable tool risks worse performancewhich will inevitably spill over into our work.

Here are three situations in which the use of spreadsheets may not be an advisable choice.

1.Excel is not a Database

The usability, security and retention of data in the  Digital Transformation  are crucial.  Recording archiving,  analysing  and modifying data daily and easily therefore becomes a priority for the company.

It is possible to carry out all of these tasks in Excel by managing spreadsheets as databases.

However, the program has some limitations:

  • it takes a long time to compile, manage and backup data;
  • it is complex to create and maintain relationships between a lot of data in different spreadsheets;
  • as the data increases, the performance of the program decreases;
  • shared management and modification may be difficult;
  • it is subject to human errors.

2. Excel is not an Editor

Filling Excel cells with long and detailed text can be very frustrating for those who have to read the file.

Excel does allow you to choose font, size, colour, spell-check, insert images and links, but it is not a text editor and cannot be used as such. A text editor allows you toorganise content hierarchically (Title, subtitle, paragraph) and with Excel this is not possible. Quotations, indexes and footers cannot be inserted. Moreover, Printing an Excel spreadsheet is a real nightmare.

3. Excel is not designed for collaborative work

In company contexts it is common to share work in Excel files. For example, different departments may record data and activities that will later be useful to other departments and to which the latter will add their own data.

Multiple people working on the same file poses significant risks: loss of data; confusion over different file versions; rescue difficultiesnot being able to edit the file at the same time; just to name a few. With the online version, some limitations have been eliminated, although not all companies can use it due to policy.


Excel is a powerful program that performs best when analysing data, carrying out calculations and functions, and creating tables and charts. Using it for purposes that go beyond its “mission” may run the risk of reducing the efficiency and performance of the intended activity.

As mentioned, each activity has its own support tool. Using a workflow tool that has been developed specifically for managing workflows between departments, with selective archiving of data and information, with traceability for total security, with the option of synthesising information in intuitive reports and much more is undoubtedly the best choice, and especially because it easilyintegrates with other programs, such as Excel, creating a true digital map of the company.


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It enables companies to: have documentation that is protected, always up-to-date, organised and linked to the source processes; assign and implement workactivities directly on the platform; easily share information between departments; keep processes under control using KPIs; and compile reports  and dossiers  that will be useful for inspections.

The platform can accommodate several processes (e.g. Audit, Change Control, Complaints, CAPA, etc.), creating a true digital map of the company. It also integrates with other systems, such as ERP, simplifying the compilation and updating of data.

PRAGMA4U is the result of S4BT’s many years of experience in the pharmaceutical world. For this reason, the system is fully CFR 21 – part 11 compliant and was created with the specific intention of complying with
to the high quality standards of the legislation and standards that also greatly concern data integrity.


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An aid to inspection work

Simplify the management of Complaints, from filing, through investigation, follow-up, judgment and final report.

The module is designed to provide step by step Quality Assurance support
in the implementation and supervision of the process and the assignment of tasks to the departments involved. The module supplements the CAPA procedure, which the user can open directly from the Complaints procedure.

PRAGMA-WFM documents and traces all activities and information in the Complaints process. In each phase, you can also attach files in various formats to support activities and investigations.

During inspection phases, the functionality dossier enables the real-time generation of a document that provides information and lists the activities of the process and related processes


Documents and traces activities

It simplifies the management of internal and external audits, from planning, through execution, to the management of remarks.

The module supplements procedures for handling CAPAs , Non Conformitiesand Change Control that the user can open directly from the audit to resolve the observations found.

PRAGMA-WFM documents and traces all activities and information of the Audit process. For each process step, it is possible to assign tasks to the people involved, and attach files in various formats.

Duringthe inspection phase, the dossierfunctioncan generate a document in real time which records the information and activities of the Audits and related processes