A Swiss army knife isn’t a hammer…

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Microsoft Excel: who don’t use it? It’s part of the incredible Microsoft Office package and is a powerful tool that allows you to perform a range of calculations quickly and easily. The term ‘Excel manager’ was introduced for a reason and if I’m being honest, even I use Excel for certain reports. It’s just so easy and flexible.

That said, Excel can also be a bother, especially when it’s used for the wrong purposes. I know that some things can be used for a range of different purposes – even those for which they weren’t intended – but you have to draw the line somewhere. That’s why we don’t use Excel for our accounting. That’s why we have a CRM package. That’s why we have a tool to manage all of our software sprints and releases. Excel gives us a great foundation, but the other tools have extras that add even more value.

I liken Excel to the ubiquitous Swiss army knife. It can do almost anything, saw, screw, slice, pull splinters, pick teeth. But there’s one thing it can’t do: hammer. Incidentally, I’ve used better pliers, screwdrivers, toothpicks and saws before, too.

The same is true for Excel: it can do everything, but it can’t do everything well. So what should you use instead? A tool that was designed for the task at hand. A specific tool that offers the right information at the right time.

I should explain why I believe Excel is not as suitable as MXSuite when it comes to maintaining a ship. After all, you can easily create a task list in Excel. You can also add a due date per task and automatically calculate new due dates. Despite all of this being possible in Excel, MXSuite was developed based on the practical challenges encountered by clients in daily life. We created a solution for these problems in the form of MXSuite.

What does MXSuite offer that Excel doesn’t? Some of the benefits:

  • MXSuite offers user management. All users are assigned rights, which means a user can’t just change or delete a task. I know, you can also secure an Excel sheet so that no one can add, edit, or delete information; however, one of the advantages of MXSuite is that everything can be configured per user, per task type and per action.
  • Sometimes it can be useful to search through your history. Why is there a recurring pattern with this generator? Did that happen before? Building a detailed history can be extremely useful both internally and externally; for instance, if a machine is defective and the manufacturer requests proof of maintenance.
  • To take things a step further: suppose a shipping company is busy making next year’s budget. Knowing which components are required to carry out each task makes it easier to create an accurate overview of the annual costs.
  • We experienced this first-hand when a crew member marked a task as complete in MXSuite even though it wasn’t. What’s worse: he wasn’t authorised to perform that task in the first place. We managed to solve the problem with the client by making sure crew members can no longer perform tasks they aren’t authorised to carry out. I don’t know how we would have solved this in Excel.

These are just a few examples in a long list of benefits. And let’s be honest: the €400-a-year price tag doesn’t hurt either!

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