LearnPublished April 19, 2024

6 reasons why your business should build an app from your Excel spreadsheets

A Microsoft Excel app outperforms even the most advanced spreadsheet, helping turn your data into action

Jesus Vargas

Jesus Vargas

Founder, LowCode

6 reasons why your business should build an app from your Excel spreadsheets

Online spreadsheets were pretty revolutionary when they first came out. But these days, modern companies need more robust solutions to really thrive. The truth is that spreadsheets (even with the fanciest formatting options, formulas, and pivot tables) have some major limitations.

As data becomes more intricate and extensive, those Excel files become prone to errors and difficult to manage. Having to manually enter data kills productivity. The lack of real-time collaboration is a pain, and the automation capabilities are pretty limited. With shortcomings like those, it's easy for costly mistakes to slip through the cracks.

No code tools like Glide make it possible to build a custom Microsoft Excel app, right on top of your business data. The right tools are the cornerstone of success for both small businesses and big enterprises. Here are six big reasons why you should move away from spreadsheets and take advantage of the power of custom apps. 

1. Complex features—you work with more than numbers

Spreadsheets are great for crunching numbers, but businesses deal with way more than just data and calculations. You're managing complex processes, juggling different systems and tools, and serving users and customers with diverse needs.

Excel features fall short when it comes to handling all those intricate tasks and workflows. Let’s face it: at its core, it's really just a worksheet for numbers and formulas. But with custom apps, you get a complete solution tailored precisely to how your business operates.

Custom apps allow you to build sophisticated features far beyond what a spreadsheet can offer. These include dynamic forms, approval workflows, integration with other business tools, booking systems, e-signatures, and customer portals—the possibilities are endless.

Apps also give you many more tools for data analysis and visualization. You can display your spreadsheet data in graphs, charts, or tables that app users can change in real time to better understand your data. You build an interface that turns all of your collected databases into fully functional data analysis tools. 

2. Team collaboration, anywhere, anytime

It's been a while since businesses only operated in one office from 9-5. Now, it’s more common for teams to need to be able to collaborate no matter where they are or what device they're using. When it comes to enabling flexible, efficient teamwork, Excel just doesn't cut it.

Sharing and simultaneously editing spreadsheets is a headache. You've got version control issues, cells overwriting each other, and a total lack of visibility into who made what change. Custom apps, on the other hand, are built from the ground up for real-time, multi-user collaboration. Your team can work together on projects, processes, and data whether they're in the office, at home, or on the road. Apps provide a single source of truth that's always updated across the board.

With user permissions, granular access controls, and activity tracking, you don't have to wonder who edited what. Offline functionality ensures work can automatically sync up once you're reconnected. No more emailing files back and forth or dealing with outdated versions. For teams spread across locations, time zones, or working flexible hours, custom apps are the best way to collaborate with ease. 

Apps also let you share your data with more people without necessarily sharing all your data or giving many people the ability to accidentally edit or delete it. Instead of giving a client or colleague’s Microsoft account access to your entire Excel workbook, you can give them a gated app interface or form that they can use to interact with your database or visualize only the information they need access to.

3. Apps can integrate with other tools

Your business relies on many different software tools and platforms to get work done: your Microsoft Office suite, CRMs, cloud storage like Google Drive or OneDrive, communication apps like Microsoft Teams and Slack, and more. Meanwhile, Excel remains in its own walled garden, which makes it difficult to connect and share data across those other solutions.

Custom apps break down those barriers. They can integrate directly with tools from Microsoft and other major companies, and they allow your data to start flowing between your different platforms. You shouldn’t be manually copying and pasting information across separate apps and spreadsheets; an app can take care of that for you, and you will avoid errors and inconsistencies.

For example, a custom Glide app could connect to your Office 365 subscription to automatically generate reports from data in Excel, Word, and Outlook. It could also sync staff schedules from scheduling software with your company's shared calendar and connect them directly to your project management tool.

4. Work smarter: automations and AI

One massive advantage of custom apps is their ability to automate repetitive tasks through workflows. In Excel, you're stuck manually generating reports, entering data over and over, or clicking through routine processes. 

With apps, you can automatically generate customer invoices as PDFs the moment an order is marked as fulfilled. Approval requests for expenses or projects can automatically route through your pre-defined chains based on the rules you set. Employee onboarding tasks like creating accounts and email lists can fire off automatically when a new hire's information is entered. 

Apps can also do so much more than just basic automation if you bring a powerful player to the table: artificial intelligence. You can use Glide AI to extract and map data from documents, photos, and forms. Businesses can save time and reduce errors in data entry.  This can be particularly useful in industries such as finance, healthcare, and legal, where there is a large volume of paperwork. 

5. You will scale up, and apps can handle your growing business needs

As your business expands, those spreadsheets that worked for you early on can quickly become overwhelming. Excel files bog down as data scales up, formulas get more complex, and more teammates need access. Pretty soon, you're dealing with slow performance, version control issues, and even missing files.

Apps are made to scale with your company's growth. The apps you build on Glide run on a robust, secure cloud infrastructure designed to handle increasing demands without performance degradation, making them an agile, adaptable solution for the long run. Your app can keep pace as your data and user base expand. 

6. User-friendly = better productivity

At the end of the day, the tools you use need to work for your employees, not against them. A custom app will provide a clean interface tailored specifically for how your teams need to work. 

The learning curve is minimal since apps mirror the familiar experiences we're accustomed to on mobile devices and the modern web: data inputs happen through simple forms, and processes follow logical flows. They require minimal onboarding or training and help your team work more efficiently.

What you can achieve with a custom Microsoft Excel app built on Glide

Glide empowers you to go beyond the limitations of spreadsheets in many ways. With a custom interface, your data becomes interactive and readily accessible. You can build powerful, consumer-grade web apps for almost any business need, such as custom portals for customers, internal tools for operations, e-commerce stores, advanced databases, data-driven dashboards, and more.

Glide's visual development experience makes app building very intuitive. You define your data structure, design your layouts through the interactive editor, and bring it all to life with logic and integrations. Apps that would take months can be created in a fraction of the time. Glide also includes the Glide API for custom functionalities, the Call API for external service integrations, and numerous SQL database connections to use your existing data infrastructure. 

The apps you build are web apps with adaptive design. This means our apps will adjust their layout and functionality to work seamlessly across any device and operating system —whether it's an iPhone operating on iOS, Android phone, Windows or Mac laptop, iPad, etc.

At LowCode, we've seen all kinds of businesses struggling under the weight of complex spreadsheets that seemed like a good idea at first. That was the case for Margaritaville, a massive hospitality brand with over 100 franchised locations. Their iconic bar programs relied on a single offline Excel file to house hundreds upon hundreds of cocktail recipes - each with unique measurements, portions, and calculations. 

Working only with a spreadsheet was beyond problematic: just one person had access, updates required manual edits and email distribution, and outdated versions could easily circulate. It was a process prone to human errors that lacked scalability and didn't offer the visibility and user experience they needed.

The solution was Glide: it allowed us to build a custom app for Margaritaville in only 4 weeks. Management can now roll out entirely new menus 83% faster than before - a process that once took days is now accomplished in a couple of clicks. Bartenders can simply browse through the latest recipes on their mobile devices, accessible from anywhere. We even used one of our favorite Glide integrations, PDF Monkey, that allows them to print recipes directly from the app when needed.

Spreadsheets are for data - tools are for people

There is an opportunity to build a simple, effective app for almost any Excel spreadsheets or Google Sheets you have at work. Let spreadsheets store your data, while custom apps provide a human interface that fits your team’s workflows and specific needs. 

Use Glide University to get comfortable building with no code, or use a template to get a head start crafting your app’s interface. If you’re really pressed for time, you can even hire an Expert to help you create more complex tools for your business.

At LowCode Agency, we're experts at developing powerful, enterprise-grade apps for companies like yours using Glide's no code platform. We want to help you reach new levels of scalability and competitiveness for your teams, and Glide is our favorite tool because it allows us to do just that: bring you the perfect custom tool in a fraction of the usual time and cost. 

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Jesus Vargas

Jesus Vargas

Jesus is the founder of LowCode Agency, bringing close to a decade of experience in web development. With over 273 successful projects under its belt, LowCode Agency has helped hundreds of businesses save time and money, improve their performance, and gain a competitive edge. Clients include Zapier, American Express, Medtronic, and many more.

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