So, you’re working hard in a fast-paced PMO but could you be working smarter? Often (on most occasions) when we ask, “What tools are you using in the PMO?” whether it be for scheduling, resourcing, managing RAID logs, reporting financials or for documenting the serial numbers of the lightsabres distributed to the PMO team, the answer is typically Microsoft Excel. This article will look to explore why PMO Professionals should stop using Excel.

This view is not just based on my own experience. The State of Project Management Annual Survey(2020) found that just under 17% of respondents were using Excel to manage their resource plans, the Total Economic Impact™ (TEI) of Microsoft Office 365 PPM report from Forrester also stated that “in many instances, Microsoft Excel was the tool of choice for Project Managers to track project progress and performance.”

This is understandable as Excel is so accessible and versatile that it gets adopted as the tool of choice.

I’m guilty of this too, whilst working in the PMO of a FTSE 100 organisation back in 2006, I found myself using Excel to create Gantt charts that even ‘Banksy’ would have been proud of (slight exaggeration).

Despite this, I did very quickly realise that this was not the most practical approach as I spent what seemed like an eternity trying to keep everything updated so that I could spend an infinite amount of time manually producing and churning out reports.

As I sit here and reminisce, you might be sitting there pondering over whether Excel is the correct solution to manage your multi-million-pound global change programme. The short answer is ‘NO’. The Forrester TEI report that I quoted from earlier went on to state that the use of Excel “…impeded visibility into projects for leadership, finance, and project management offices (PMOs), hindering the ability to strategically manage project portfolios.”

To some extent, you might already be self-aware of this fact but to help you to understand the benefits of moving away from Excel I’ll be sharing a series of focused articles over the next few issues of PPM Intelligence depicting Excel vs Microsoft PPM to highlight the benefits you and your organisation could realise if they stop using Excel.