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Published: May 01 2017

The Perils of Manual Data Entry in Facilities Capital Planning

When we talk with facilities directors and planners about facility capital budgeting and planning, we often find that many first tried using spreadsheets to manage their capital planning and facility condition assessments processes.

Initially, they find spreadsheets useful for storing, organizing and reporting data.

However, when it comes to effective capital planning for large portfolios, facilities professionals soon learn that spreadsheets lack key capabilities, including:

  • Built-in cost estimation based on industry norms
  • Objective project prioritization
  • Centralized data storage
  • An ability to scale

While spreadsheets are easy to use, they have significant limitations for professional facilities managers. Manual data entry is slow and often results in errors, as discussed in the Journal of End User Computing article, “What We Know About Spreadsheet Errors”:

  • Spreadsheets, even after careful development, contain errors in one percent or more of all formula cells. In large spreadsheets with thousands of formulas, there will be dozens of undetected errors.1
  • Even when a task was selected to be very simple and almost completely free of domain knowledge requirements, about 40% of all spreadsheets contained errors, and the [Cell Error Rate] was about 2%.2

Spreadsheet errors can have a major impact on business results as inaccurate data is propagated throughout an organization. Manual data entry, especially into spreadsheets lacking standardization and controls, is inefficient and ultimately yields numbers that cannot be trusted for accurate decisions.

The perils of managing your asset portfolio with spreadsheets. Download the white paper – The 5 Limits of Spreadsheets for Facilities Capital Planning.

With built-in logic and automation, facilities capital planning software such as VFA.facility can help you improve efficiency and reduce errors. Embedded cost estimation standards can improve forecast accuracy and ensure consistency. The use of smartphones and tablets for mobile data collection can also enable rapid data capture and seamless uploading directly into centralized software, reducing errors and saving time.

Capital planning software can help you objectively model multi-year capital plans that optimize building portfolio investments and align with your mission.

1,2Panko, R. (May 2008). What We Know About Spreadsheet Errors. Journal of End User Computing, 15-21.

Want to read more on this topic? See these blog posts:

How Spreadsheets Limit Facilities Capital Planning Collaboration
Facilities Managers Won’t Find Cost Estimation Norms Data in Spreadsheets
Spreadsheets Lack Functionality Facilities Managers Need
How Capital Planners Measure Performance (It’s Not with Spreadsheets)

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