Business Development

How Excel is limiting your business development

Excel is holding the construction industry back. Learn why that's happening and what can be done to fix it.

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In today’s construction industry, there’s a variety of software available to help you run your business. Whether it’s an ERP, CRM, or invoice management tool, companies have many different technologies to choose from to improve their operational efficiency. However, this technology hasn’t solved the primary challenges of the industry. Key financial processes remain slow and lacking in accuracy. The workload of the average accounting clerk or project manager hasn’t changed much either. While every other industry is seemingly racing ahead into the digital age, those same gains haven’t materialized for construction. It’s left companies feeling skeptical and turning away from what technology can do to enhance their business. 

The core issue isn’t a lack of capability. The problem has nothing to do with technology. The main roadblock holding construction companies back from reaping the benefits of the digital age is Excel. As it stands, no amount of investment in construction technology has allowed companies to escape Excel hell and free themselves of the problems that come with spreadsheets. Most construction companies can’t even imagine how they would run their business without it. It seems almost impossible. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth.

Not only can construction companies leave behind Excel, but they’ll also see gains in efficiency, profitability, and even employee retention when they do so. Let’s go over how Excel is limiting construction business development and what companies can do to change this. 

Excel is a data bottleneck

Most construction companies are still spending enormous amounts of time in Excel. To some, this may seem like a strange fact. Tools like ERPs and accounting software are supposed to reduce these data burdens on your team. Yet, these tools may increase the amount of time your team spends in Excel. It sounds like a paradox, but it’s the reality that the industry is living in.

The reason why this happens is simple. Ask any employee in your organization how they’re moving data in and out of software. It’s almost guaranteed that they’re exporting, importing, and printing everything from spreadsheets. This is the bottleneck that keeps Excel in the contech ecosystem. Most construction companies don’t have a way to move data between people and software without Excel. This means that every new piece of software results in an additional spreadsheet, and more time spent in Excel. The best tools available can’t make a dent in productivity if you’re required to fill out hundreds of spreadsheets to get a single output.

While construction companies who are used to Excel may not see this as a problem, it’s a roadblock that needs to be addressed. The profitability of your construction company is tied to the accuracy and speed of your billing, forecasting, and financial planning. All of these things rely on data to function. If the data fueling your WIP or your labor forecast is slow and filled with spreadsheet errors, it hurts your bottom line. Even if you could somehow eliminate all data entry errors from your documents, the process would still move at a slow pace. That slow pace of reporting leaves your business in a reactive position. The most recent data you can make decisions with may be weeks or even months behind the present day. To make matters worse, you won’t be able to know how those decisions impact your profitability until much later down the line. Overall, this problem holds your business back from making proactive, data-driven decisions in real time.

Cut out the middleman

Although Excel may be limiting your construction company, it doesn’t have to be that way. Identifying the problem is half the battle. Once your business understands the importance of moving its data, it can begin to search for the right solution. Construction companies need an effective way to move their financial info without sacrificing the flexibility that Excel offers. This solution also needs to be cost-effective, as connectors between software can be both rigid and expensive. When you tally up all these requirements, there’s only one solution that fits the bill: financial automation.

Financial automation tools are the answer to construction’s biggest concerns. From the user perspective, it looks identical to your standard spreadsheet and offers the same level of total flexibility when managing data. The key difference is in how it gets your data from place to place. Financial automation tools can move information without any need for human input. It can extract budgets from your ERP, pull data from invoices into spreadsheets, copy over bids from your CRM, and fully automate just about any financial process. It can even replicate the exact keystrokes of a human user to copy over info into your spreadsheets. If the data exists, the automation can get to it. 

Automation puts an end to double data entry, expensive connectors, spreadsheet errors, and the hours of manpower lost to Excel. This allows construction companies to achieve real-time data flow, a continuous close, and an endless number of operational benefits. It’s the missing piece of the contech puzzle that the industry has been waiting for. It’s time for construction companies to finally escape Excel hell by embracing financial automation for their business.

Finding the right fit

While financial automation is a huge improvement for the industry, construction companies may not know where to start. Taking on a new piece of technology is a significant investment, so it’s essential to get it right. That’s why tech-forward construction companies are relying on Briq for their financial automation needs.

Briq is a financial automation platform made to help construction companies run a better business. Our platform provides all the automation benefits we’ve listed here and more to provide the best construction finance tool. If you’d like to learn more about what Briq can achieve for your business, speak with our experts and get a live Briq demo at