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Recently an MLSCI client approached us with a problem.  Government auditors were seeking information on sponsored programs from several years earlier.  The data resided with a vendor who they no longer used and that was no longer in business.


While many companies rely on outside services and logistics partners, there are real risks on relying on those companies to manage YOUR data in THEIR systems.


MLSCI systems, such as MedAvantageTM, interface with many 3rd parties but the data is always maintained in a single repository.  This not only provides  "one version of the truth" but also ensures that critical data is owned by the client, today and tomorrow.






As we help our clients achieve operations and compliance excellence, one of the first things we do is work to get a solid understanding of how their business operates on a day-to-day basis. One common thread we see with nearly all struggling customers is a heavy dependency on Excel spreadsheets. We have encountered medical affairs teams who rely on over 100 spreadsheets just to run their daily business! Let’s take a moment to explore the main reasons why companies use Excel and some reasons why relying on spreadsheets can be a risky way to run your business.


The Risks of Running Your Business on Excel


In our experience, one of the main reasons companies use Excel is because their existing systems don’t allow them to view and understand data while providing the information they need to make timely business decisions. Other times they believe the costs of an integrated system are too high for the size of their business (let us show you how quickly even a small organization can quickly have a positive ROI).  There is no doubt Excel is an extremely powerful tool, but below are several reasons why relying on spreadsheets is a dangerous way to store business critical information:


  • Studies have shown 80-90% of spreadsheets contain serious errors. We have all heard stories of spreadsheet typos or oversights costing companies millions of dollars. Spreadsheets are easy to use and can be created by anyone. Unfortunately, errors are very easy to make but catching them can be very difficult.
  • Version control becomes a big issue when spreadsheets are emailed back-and-forth or stored on individual computers.  It doesn’t take long before there are multiple versions floating around and your company is not working from one version of the truth.
  • Analyzing data that integrates across multiple functions becomes very challenging. Typically, each team will create its own spreadsheet containing different information about the same study. One might hold contracts data, while another might hold study status. Another might hold completely different data on the same trial or concept request. Trying to analyze all of the data related to that study becomes extremely difficult.
  • Spreadsheets can become corrupted very easily. As spreadsheets grow, more and more changes occur, usually adding more and more data. As these changes occur and data gets added, spreadsheets become unstable. The more unstable they become, the greater the risk for data loss.
  • It is not uncommon for different groups within an organization to create very similar, even identical spreadsheets. Typically, controls are not in place to prevent a third group from creating the same report. This duplication of effort is a clear waste of resources and a significant hidden cost of manual reporting in Excel.


The Benefit of One Integrated System


MLSCI is a big proponent of integrating all information into a single, managed, data repository, therefore eliminating the need for external spreadsheets. Having one system eliminates many of the pitfalls companies run into from working with multiple spreadsheets. It ensures quality and also provides one version of the truth with visibility to the same data throughout the company.   This is vitally important for many reasons including audit and compliance.


If you are running our business on Excel and are open to learning about some possible systems that could help streamline your operations while enhancing compliance, contact the experts at MLSCI today.  Our solutions will save you both time and money



The Fallacy of Managing Critical Studies in Spreadsheets.


Main Line Software Consulting Inc.  © 2016