The Limits of Spreadsheets for Your Seed Business
Published by: Amy Doherty on: 9/07/18
Spreadsheets have served and are serving the needs of seed production businesses across the world; they are customisable, quick to setup and simple to use with plenty of options for formulas, tables and charts. But, they have limits, especially when it comes to the complex needs and requirements of the seed industry.
Unnecessary admin work
How much time do you and your staff spend fiddling around with spreadsheets? The answer could be a lot. Spreadsheets create a lot of small admin tasks, such as inputting data more than once into different sheets and trying to pool data from various documents into one. Seed management software could transform your business and how it works, as Cultura Seed Solutions Product Manager Vincent Veneziale explains:
“An integrated system enables you to free people from the drudgery of wrestling with spreadsheets and allow them to focus on the important and productive things that would help to grow the business profitably.”
In contrast to disparate spreadsheets, a single centralised system will ensure that data gets instantly fed from your various departments straight to you and your senior staff.
On top of that, your various systems will work together; for example, once an order goes through, your sales system will automatically speak to your stock system and make sure that the requested seed is available in the inventory.
Errors and inaccuracy
Spreadsheets need to be set up correctly to make sure that calculations are made and data is input accurately. They rely heavily on human labour, so human errors are far more common. The lack of cohesion between your spreadsheets also lends itself to errors, due to confusion and lack of uniformity.
The more automated your system, the less likely human errors are. Your batches will probably need unique identifying numbers, which a seed management software package will generate automatically when you first input it into the system, so you don’t need to input them into every spreadsheet they need to be in, decreasingly the likelihood of error.
Spreadsheets aren’t designed specifically for the seed industry, so they might require a bit of playing around and setup time to ensure that you can record the required data. A department might have certain acronyms or ways of referring to things that only make sense to staff in them, making it unnecessarily difficult for staff from outside the department to interpret the data.
Seed management software is specifically designed to work with businesses like yours, so it already has all of the essential systems and features built-in, ready to use. Once you input your seed data in, it will be stored centrally and made accessible to all staff and systems which need it, making it much easier to pull up data for reports and audits.
Data loss and security
Spreadsheets also fall down a bit when it comes to preventing data loss. A single laptop could have an entire company’s record of seed production for the last five years on it – if it breaks then they suddenly have quite a big problem. Even if they have backups elsewhere in the office, a flood or fire could destroy both copies in one go. Theft could be another issue, and spreadsheets don’t come with any security features built-in.
Backup and recovery is something that is standard with seed management software – your data will be kept safe by a robust recovery system if disaster strikes. Additionally, role-based security ensures that staff can only access the parts of the system they need to carry out their jobs. Your seed business will be in a far better position to withstand natural disasters, equipment breakdown and theft.
Because of the strict requirements and regulations that the UK, EU and US governments have it when it comes to seed production, it is essential that you can easily and quickly trace the origins, production, storage and cleaning of your seeds.
If the auditor comes in and asks for information on the originator of a particular batch of seeds, it could take a lot of time and manpower to find the particular spreadsheets for the seed type, specific batch and the originator. It becomes more of a compliance issue if the diaspora of spreadsheets means that you cannot find where that batch came from.
Specialised software will ensure that you are compliant with regulations by making sure that key quality information is recorded and made easily accessible to staff or government officers who need to see it. If we go back to our seed batch example, the unique identifier means that it is tracked all the way through the process, end to end.
Finding information on the batch, such as where it came from, when it was produced and how it was cleaned is as simple as typing a search query into the system. In order to stay on top of your seed purity, it is essential to keep track of your seed originators and processors, and seed management software is a far better way of keeping a record of this than various disparate spreadsheets.
The case for seed management software is getting stronger and stronger as the suites and packages you can get become more advanced and easier to use. This is software that is designed specifically to help seed businesses manage all of their operational processes with greater ease, efficiency and with better accuracy, all from one central system.
Spreadsheets are certainly still handy and can do a lot, but the bigger your company gets and the further back it has to hold records, the more suitable a centralised, seed management-specific software package becomes. Generation is our seed management software and if you would like to know more how it can help your seed business, then please get in touch on: 01257 257 811 or send us an email firstname.lastname@example.org today.« Back to Blog