Spreadsheets are an excellent office tool that’s easily accessible and cheaper compared to leading software in the market.
However, is it worth using for your business?
Spreadsheets are not 100% error-free
While spreadsheets have plenty of advantages for the typical user, worksheets for a cemetery business is another thing entirely.
I think we all can agree, spreadsheets are superior to manual, handwritten records. However, managing your cemetery business with spreadsheets in the 21st century is not enough.
First of all, spreadsheets are NOT error-free. Don’t take it from us, take it from Forbes–according to Forbes, 9 out of 10 spreadsheets or 88% of all worksheets contain errors.
Also, with the rise of the more visually stimulating, enhanced user-experience and business-focused software in the market, Excel is slowly becoming out of date. Managing your cemetery records using spreadsheets may be unhealthy for any business; including cemeteries.
Why Excel Isn’t The Best Fit For Cemetery Management?
1. It's Just A Spreadsheet
Excel, despite the hype, is a sophisticated spreadsheet program, nothing more. And for your business, you need software that is specific to your records and mapping needs. Cemetery record management indeed requires purpose-built software, instead of the general, jack-of-all-trades that is Excel.
Normal spreadsheet functions won’t cut it in cemetery management since it is technically difficult to accurately link the many different layers of relevant information, together. While you may be able to input data onto a spreadsheet, linking the report is a whole different type of story.
Excel is built to perform computations on large amounts of numbers. Whereas managing cemetery records requires a comprehensive approach to data management, relating records, and error avoidance/checking with strict requirements for data integrity.
For example, it is challenging to organise essential data on Excel, such as the right of interment, headstone text and photos, physical plot location, diagram references, contact details, and others. One reason for this is because it’s wasn’t designed for supporting many-to-one relationships of a cemetery records database.
2. Limited Mapping Function
Human-made and natural disasters can easily damage physical maps. These maps may also contain a significant number of human errors, especially if they’re decades, or even in most cases centuries old.
That’s why cemetery management software can benefit greatly from a program that can offer both records management and mapping at the same time.
Excel is a spreadsheet program that sadly does not contain any out-of-the-box pretty diagram or mapping functions. Meaning, it won’t be able to keep up with your workflow, especially when it comes to mapping essentials such as providing a clear link between records and physical ground location, giving you a visual representation of your monuments and allowing you to accurately map your plots in the real world and in real-time.
We have found many cemeteries attempting to represent their cemetery plot layout with a grid of colored cells in Excel. Sadly this represents a romantic notion of what they think their grave looks like and is a long way from accurate representation. Instead, the idealised grid misses double plots, skewed or sidewise plots, messy sections, jammed in plots that shouldn’t belong but the family insisted on claiming, and many more difficulties.
That said, administrators who have managed the cemetery for 10+ years can have a good understanding, even use this kind of map; it just makes it quite challenging to share with anyone.
Perhaps most significantly, there is no way to help members of the public and future customers locate a plot, as the Excel map and records are not able to be shared in any meaningful way.
3. Using Spreadsheets Is Time-consuming
One of the reasons for utilizing cemetery software to take care of both your cemetery records and mapping concerns is to save you both time and money.
This purpose-built software system is capable of tracking relevant data; while ensuring all information is 100% accurate. Everything then becomes immediately accessible; which helps you cut time spent on sifting through unorganized record piles, whether on paper or Excel.
On the other hand, spreadsheets would make the entire cemetery records process even more complex and quite frustrating.
Whether its Chronicle or another cemetery software program, if you want to save more time, and grow your cemetery business, it’s safe to advise, focus on utilizing a program tailored to your specific needs.
4. Poor Security Management
Another reason why spreadsheets are not the best fit for your cemetery records is the lack of security features. With worksheets, all it takes is just one wrong backspace or keystroke to lose valuable information. In some cases, it can be impossible to retrieve lost data in Excel, especially if the information was lost inadvertently.
One example that I am confident we have all done is to save accidentally, then close the spreadsheet, only to realize several days or even weeks later that something doesn’t look correct. Whether it’s a formula breaking or data accidentally deleted, something doesn’t look right any longer. Even worse, you’re not sure how to retrieve it, because you’re not sure what day or event it was lost; if it was even periodically backed up from the start.
Let’s face it spreadsheets are not a fool-proof, secure way to store data. If someone wanted to, they would spend little effort in stealing or corrupt your data.
But what about password protection? While Excel files can be password-protected, it’s all or nothing, which means that it’s either people are locked out or given full access to the data. For managing cemetery records, you will require a program that can offer different levels of access for tighter security.
5. Lack of Data Quality
It’s no secret that spreadsheets are inaccurate. According to the article by Forbes, even the most carefully prepared worksheets have human faults. And this isn’t surprising given the level of human interaction required in creating records on spreadsheets.
While industry-related business programs aren’t 100% flawless, they do eliminate the possibility of most human errors found in spreadsheets through cross-checking, intelligent algorithms, and data validation. Since you won’t have to do everything from scratch (as with Excel), you can significantly reduce the number of human errors (like duplicate content and transcription errors) in your cemetery records.
It’s easy to overlook already sold plots if not appropriately recorded in spreadsheets. Although this may seem trivial, even unintentional errors like this could be damaging to your business.
It will also be harder to have confidence in meeting regulatory requirements using an application that’s not optimized for your cemetery management and mapping needs.
6. Not Designed for Multiple Users
While perhaps spreadsheets are working for you as a single user, it lacks the capability for team collaboration.
Since spreadsheets are designed for a single user, it has limited capabilities to share the records to another user in your team. Given its limited capacity and power, it isn’t ideal to adopt spreadsheets for teams, despite everyone having an idea of what it is and how it may function.
Using a program not optimised for access by multiple people will sooner or later result in an inconsistent workflow, out of date records, duplicate files and confusion, because of the difficulty in adopting the spreadsheet for cemetery records management and mapping
7. More Suitable Cloud-based Programs In The Market
What if you need the name of a funeral minister or a specific plot number? Apps for managing cemetery records like Chronicle can make information search more accessible and more convenient because of the ole mighty “Cloud.”
Chronicle, being an online cloud-based cemetery management and mapping software, enables users to access information across multiple platforms (Windows, Linux, Mac) whenever you want and wherever you are in the world (Mobile, Web, Desktop). And since Chronicle is cloud-based, this also enables you to make information easily accessible by the public.
You can cut time lost by the tedious manual sifting through records when you have a powerful cemetery management program by your side.
While spreadsheets contain some cloud capabilities, it doesn’t have field-by-field accountability. What this means to you is that users will not be able to view edit history and more importantly, who changed the records and when.
For this reason, you can’t share the records to the community since there’s a considerable risk of being easily manipulated. The bottom line: spreadsheets aren’t powerful enough to handle cemetery records despite its partial cloud function.
8. There Are Better Cemetery Management Tools Available
You shouldn’t use worksheets for your business because there are programs that are purpose-built to industry-specific organisations, like cemeteries.
Chronicle Cemetery Management Software, unlike Excel, is explicitly built for cemetery owners, management, and the entire team. Our software has functions specific to cemetery database management, like multiple burial tracking, real-world plot references, and many other easy-to-use features.
While you can store data in spreadsheets, it would take complex programming to make it work for your business. And since worksheets weren’t designed for a specific type of data management (i.e., cemetery management), it would be challenging for even the most advanced user to adequately link the data and make it work seamlessly throughout your business.
Experience the Power of Dedicated Cemetery Management Software
Spreadsheets, like Excel, is a powerful program for specific purposes, but it’s not appropriate for managing cemetery records. What you truly need is a program that interconnects two fundamental functions of both high-integrity records-keeping and real-world cemetery mapping seamlessly into one powerful application.
Whether you need real-time access to your inventory or if you want to share the exact plot location to a client, having a dedicated cemetery records management program like Chronicle is the better solution.
Spend less time with spreadsheets or original maps and use this time growing your business, interacting with the families you cater, and of course, increasing revenue.
Chronicle cemetery software, your one straightforward solution for both records and cemetery mapping problems, request a demo today and experience the difference!
Want to see what it’s like to work with Chronicle today? Connect with us for more information on how Chronicle works here!