Why Spreadsheets are the Worst HR Software

A new era was born when Excel was introduced in 1987. But what other piece of technology that was invented in the 80s do we still use in business today? There are very few, if any, that still perform how we need them to.
Why Spreadsheets are the Words HR Software
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The Dinosaur Called Spreadsheets

As a reference, here are some other bits of technology that came out of the 80s:

  • The cell phone (The kind that literally looked like a brick.)
  • The walkman (Awesome in its day, but now it’s obsolete.)
  • The disposable camera (30 pictures you have to develop, or hundreds of high quality digital phone photos. Take your pick.)

Technology has come a long way over the last 35 years. It can now help people and companies in ways that only Marty McFly from Back to the Future could have imagined. So why do we still use spreadsheets? Yes, functions have been added over the years, but they’re still just spreadsheets. 

Here is why it’s time to let spreadsheets out of your business, especially when it comes to hiring.

People Don't Like Them

Spreadsheets are suffocating. They’re a graphic designer’s nightmare. There are huge bodies of text and numbers, there is no white space, and they’re just boring. This makes spreadsheets hard to look at and work in for long periods of time.

Tools that nobody enjoys using are much less effective than those that are inherently interesting. There are other options for HR software that do a better job at keeping track of information, and they’re more enjoyable to work in. So find a tool to do the job better and let your employees feel productive.

"Tools that nobody enjoys using are much less effective than those that are inherently interesting."

They're Slow to Build

Building a spreadsheet is a form of programming. When you put together a spreadsheet, you are programming it to do something for you. This takes a lot of time, time that could be spent on something more productive if you got hiring software that was already programmed to do what you need it to.

They're Usually Broken

There are as many ways to mess up a spreadsheet as there are cells in the spreadsheet. 

A copy and paste error cost JP Morgan over $6 billion. A simple typo made the 2012 London Olympics think they could sell 20,000 tickets to a swimming event instead of the 10,000 they actually had available. An omission error of a single minus sign by a Fidelity Investment employee resulted in a dividend estimate that was $2.6 billion higher than reality. 

Users can accidentally ruin spreadsheets just by using them. It’s too easy to accidentally delete text in a cell, mess up a formula, forget hidden cells, or copy and paste something incorrectly. If you’re a small business just trying to keep the doors open, these types of mistakes could cripple you. 

Earlier, I mentioned that building spreadsheets is like programming. In order to do it properly, programming has to be done slowly and meticulously. In traditional programming, the product is thoroughly read, tested, edited, re-read, and so on. It’s a continuing process. 

Spreadsheets are usually a one-time thing done by someone with no formal spreadsheet training. The user just builds the spreadsheet and starts inputting values. This sort of spreadsheet use has led to 90 percent of spreadsheets having errors, costing U.S. companies billions of dollars.

You’re human and you make mistakes. Plan on that. Get HR software that has your back covered.

They're Hard to Share

Google has made a lot of progress here, but shareability is a big issue with other spreadsheets. Most spreadsheets have to be shared by email or something similar. This type of sharing makes it nearly impossible to collaborate on spreadsheets in real time. 

Hiring should be done collaboratively, and candidate info should be updated continuously as data is gathered. This simply can’t be done effectively using your typical Excel spreadsheet.

They're Not Inherently Secure

Spreadsheets are not inherently secure. This is a big issue in hiring and HR because companies hold very sensitive employee and candidate information. It falls on the company to make sure that this information is protected. Spreadsheets simply are not the best way to do that. 

"Spreadsheets are not inherently secure."

Spreadsheets are not historical data storage units. Sure, there are a lot of columns and rows to fill, but big spreadsheets are not user friendly at all. The only way to keep your spreadsheet usable is to keep it small. This means losing historical data as it’s updated.

Don’t compromise on these points. Get HR software that is secure and lets you keep data in an organized way.


The creation and development of spreadsheets was a huge step in technology. But it’s time to take another step. Good HR platforms are user friendly, are secure, retain historical data, and are collaborative. Take a look at Eddy as an a great way to do this and bring your HR team into 2020.

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