Change, even if it’s for the better, is outside of most of our comfort zones. Despite knowing there are better ways of doing things, even the best of us can get stuck in a “better the devil you know…” mindset. Old ways are a comfort blanket that’s hard to release. We understand.
How comfortable are you with change?
If you’ve ever put yourself through a detox you’ll know the withdrawal symptoms can be overwhelming and uncomfortable. Much the same when changing established processes and ways of working in a business – only it’s not coffee that you find yourself craving, but the comfort of your old Excel spread sheets.
Counselling teams on their Excel withdrawal has been a common theme throughout my last 11 years working with marketers and agency teams.
I remember one particular instance back in early 2014.
I was in a meeting with a global agency holding company and the process so far had included a tailored SaaS platform presentation, the creation of a compelling business case and a deep dive into the professional services required to support change management from both sides.
This last bit is of paramount importance when investing in a new business-wide tech roll-out; I don’t believe there is an enterprise platform in existence that can address all requirements and improve upon processes without the support of best-practice consultancy.
Following all this, we received the all-important ‘green light’ from the CFO. Today’s meeting was to discuss the proposed go-live with key users for the following week. Making the shift to our award-winning creative project management workflow tool would mean one thing, however; leaving behind their Excel spread sheets.
Change is hard. We know.
It sounds simple enough – but knowing what I know from countless of these conversations with creative teams I was careful to reassure them that “we understand that change management is significant, and we’ll also be providing Excel withdrawal counselling as part of this journey”, only half joking.
“..we understand that change management is significant, and we’ll also be providing Excel withdrawal counselling as part of this journey”, only half joking.”
To be clear – this was not a simple spreadsheet that an Excel novice like me would create. It was one of the most sophisticated I had seen (and believe me, I’ve seen a few.)
It comprised everything you would expect from an Excel grand master including advanced formulas, pivot tables and integration points across the agency’s SharePoint and intranet environments.
Really? Is a spreadsheet your single source of truth?
It was also, worryingly, the business’s single source of operational and financial truth. If it somehow got corrupted or those that understood it were ever unavailable to the business without notice, it would also be their biggest point of failure. And this agency – like I’ve seen many times before and since – was no start-up.
I remember explaining that from next Monday the team would no longer need to use Excel and would instead be moving to our user-friendly online creative workflow and resource management platform. It would provide them with everything they needed in real time.
Faces fell. It was a look of apprehension, which seven years later, I still see. That moment of jaw-clenching panic is why I still go to great lengths to approach change management with empathy and only when appropriate (reading the room!) a little humour.
“…even the best of us can get stuck in a ‘better the devil you know’…’ mindset.”
Change, even if it’s for the better, is outside of most of our comfort zones. Despite knowing there are better ways of doing things, even the best of us can get stuck in a “better the devil you know…” mindset. Old ways are a comfort blanket that’s hard to release.
If you Google the top ten uses of Excel, they include a number of vital business functions from financial analysis to people management to performance reporting. There’s no denying that Excel is a powerful and important tool. I for one would be lost without it for managing my Christmas card list.
Scoping – there is a better way.
One of the most popular and lasting uses for Excel in agencies is for building scopes of work. A great number of project management and workflow tools offer SOW guides or templates in their blogs and customer support documents (Monday.com, Workfront and Netsuite to name a few.)
But we believe that agencies and marketers need – and are ready for – something better. The creative industry demands an innovative and disruptive scoping platform to replace their single-source-of-truth spreadsheets.
Five years ago, we embarked on a new mission to build the first SaaS scoping tool for agencies and marketers. SCOPE is a pioneering tool, which enhances agency performance and opens the doors for greater creativity and focus on value. A true win/win between marketers and their agency partners.
As all innovators and disruptors know, the way forward will only be made possible by clearing the path for new ways of working. It’s time to detox from spreadsheets – and we’re here to help you through your Excel withdrawal.