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19 September 2023

How to use Low-Code to Transition away from Excel

As businesses evolve and demands for real-time collaboration, automation, and scalability increase, there arises a need to explore Excel alternatives that can handle more complex requirements.


For decades, Microsoft Excel has been synonymous with data management, financial analysis, and myriad business operations. Walk into any corporate office, and it’s almost a given that you’ll see at least one computer screen filled with the familiar grid of Excel rows and columns. Its unparalleled versatility, user-friendly nature, and the sheer power it packs in its formulae and functions have made it an irreplaceable tool for many. Excel has stood the test of time, assisting businesses from their start up stages to well into their enterprise levels.

However, as we move further into the digital age, the business landscape is rapidly shifting. Today’s enterprises are not just driven by data, but by real-time data. The emphasis is now on seamless collaboration across time zones, on-the-go access to data, and highly customisable solutions that can evolve as quickly as businesses themselves. Excel, for all its merits, was not originally designed with this new age of business in mind.

This revelation doesn’t detract from the immense value Excel has provided over the years. Instead, it simply underscores that businesses must also evolve in their tools and processes. As the demands for more integrated, collaborative, and scalable solutions rise, companies are searching for alternatives that can keep pace with the modern, dynamic business environment.

Low-code development platforms have emerged in this search. Offering the promise of rapid application development without deep coding expertise, these platforms are presenting businesses with a new paradigm. They provide an opportunity to not just match the capabilities of tools like Excel, but to significantly surpass them.

Let’s take a closer look at low-code solutions, examining their potential and understanding how they can be the next step for businesses ready to leverage them as an alternative to Excel.

Why Transition?

To truly understand the impetus behind the transition from Excel to low-code platforms, we must first dissect the evolving business landscape and the inherent limitations of traditional spreadsheet tools in this modern context.

  • Scalability Issues: At its heart, Excel is a desktop application. While it is capable of managing thousands of rows and columns, there’s an upper limit. Large datasets can lead to performance slowdowns, and in extreme cases, crashes. Businesses, especially those growing at a rapid pace, can quickly find themselves outgrowing Excel’s capacities, leading to inefficiencies and potential data losses.
  • Limited Collaboration: The digital age is characterised by its interconnectedness. Teams are often distributed across cities, countries, or even continents. Excel’s primarily offline, file-based system can pose challenges in such scenarios. Even with online versions, simultaneous collaborations can be clunky, and there’s always the looming threat of accidentally saving over a colleague’s data or managing conflicting versions of the same file.
  • Data Integrity Concerns: Excel files are susceptible to human errors. A single misstep—a deleted row, an incorrect formula, an unintentional drag of a cell—can result in significant data inconsistencies. For businesses where accuracy is paramount, such as in financial sectors, these errors aren’t just inconvenient; they can have substantial real-world implications.
  • Complexity and Maintenance: As businesses evolve, so do their data management needs. Over time, Excel sheets can become a maze of macros, complex formulae, and links to other sheets or files. Maintaining, updating, or even just understanding such intricately woven sheets can be a nightmare, requiring expertise and often leading to inefficiencies.
  • Security Concerns: With the increasing emphasis on data protection and privacy, Excel’s rudimentary password protection and lack of advanced security features can leave sensitive business data exposed. In an era where data breaches are not only costly but can also tarnish a company’s reputation, relying solely on Excel for data storage might be a risk too significant to take.
  • Integration Challenges: Modern businesses rely on a plethora of software tools—from CRM systems and ERP solutions to marketing automation platforms and e-commerce gateways. Excel, being a standalone application, often requires manual interventions or third-party solutions to integrate with these tools, leading to potential data silos and workflow disruptions.

Recognising these challenges doesn’t equate to belittling Excel’s contributions. Instead, it is an acknowledgment that the realm of business operations has expanded and diversified. The dynamic nature of contemporary enterprises calls for tools that are not just repositories of data, but active facilitators of business objectives. And it’s in this space that low-code platforms are carving their niche, promising a future of streamlined operations, enhanced collaboration, and adaptive scalability.

Enter Low-Code Platforms

Low-code platforms are development environments designed to minimize the amount of traditional hand-coding in application development. They offer visual development tools, allowing users to design and build applications using drag-and-drop components. Through this, they democratise the process of application creation, empowering not just seasoned developers but also business professionals with limited coding experience.

Key Features of Low-Code Platforms:

Rapid Development: With drag-and-drop functionalities, businesses can quickly build and deploy applications.
Customisation: Low-code platforms can be tailored to specific business needs.
Scalability: These platforms are built to handle increased data loads and user numbers.
Real-time Collaboration: Multiple users can work simultaneously without the risk of overwriting data.

Advantages of using Low-Code Platforms:

Rapid Development & Deployment: Traditional application development can be a long-winded process, often spanning months or even years. With low-code platforms, this timeframe is drastically reduced, enabling businesses to respond agilely to market demands and internal operational needs.
Cost-Effectiveness: By reducing the time and expertise needed for application development, businesses can realise significant cost savings. Moreover, with a reduced reliance on specialised development talent, companies can better allocate their resources.
Customisation & Flexibility: Every business is unique, with its own set of challenges and requirements. Low-code platforms, with their vast array of tools and extensibility features, empower businesses to craft solutions tailored specifically to their needs.
Enhanced Collaboration: With a more approachable development environment, different teams—from IT to marketing to operations—can collaborate effectively. This cross-functional collaboration can lead to richer, more holistic solutions that cater to a wider set of stakeholders.
Scalability & Maintenance: Built for the modern digital age, these platforms are designed to grow with businesses. They offer cloud-native architectures, ensuring scalability as user numbers or data loads increase. Plus, with regular updates and a structured environment, maintaining and updating applications becomes less cumbersome.

In essence, low-code platforms are not just tools; they represent a paradigm shift. They encapsulate the very essence of the digital transformation wave—making technology more accessible, adaptable, and aligned with business goals. As businesses grapple with an ever-changing environment, these platforms stand out as beacons, guiding them towards a future of innovation, efficiency, and growth.

How to Transition using Low-Code Software?

Transitioning from a familiar tool like Excel to a new platform can seem daunting. However, with a systematic approach, businesses can seamlessly make the shift while ensuring that their operational needs continue to be met efficiently. Let’s delve deeper into a more detailed transition plan:

  • Assess Your Needs: This step goes beyond the surface-level acknowledgment of wanting a more scalable or collaborative solution. Engage with different teams and departments to gather insights on their daily tasks, challenges, and requirements. Are they looking for automation? Better integration with other tools? Enhanced visualization capabilities? This holistic understanding forms the foundation upon which you can build your new solution.
  • Choose the Right Platform: The low-code market is burgeoning with options, each offering its unique set of features and functionalities. Once you’ve identified your needs, match them against potential platforms. Consider factors like scalability, user-friendliness, integration capabilities, support, and cost. Remember, the best platform is not necessarily the most popular one but the one that aligns best with your specific requirements.
  • Pilot & Prototype: Before committing to a full-fledged migration, consider running a pilot project. Choose a small team or department and have them test out the chosen low-code platform. This phase allows you to understand the platform’s real-world implications, training needs, and any potential hiccups in the transition process.
  • Migrate Data: Migrating your data from Excel is one of the most critical steps. Ensure you have a backup of everything before initiating the process. Use built-in tools, third-party integrations, or even manual data entry if necessary. Ensure data accuracy post-migration through comprehensive checks and validations.
  • Train Your Team: Every new tool, no matter how intuitive, comes with a learning curve. Invest in training sessions, workshops, or webinars. Encourage team members to explore the platform, and ensure that there’s a support system in place to address any queries or challenges they face.
  • Iterate & Improve: Once your application is live, the journey doesn’t end. Gather feedback continuously, both from the end-users and the stakeholders. Low-code platforms excel in their ability to rapidly adjust and iterate. Make use of this feature by continually refining your application based on real-time feedback and changing business needs.
  • Plan for Continuity: Ensure there are processes in place for continuous monitoring, troubleshooting, and updates. As your business grows and evolves, so will its operational needs. Having a dedicated team or point person to oversee the platform’s performance can prove invaluable in the long run.
  • Celebrate & Share: Recognise the efforts of everyone involved in the transition. Share success stories and positive outcomes, both internally and externally. This not only boosts morale but also showcases your business’s adaptability and forward-thinking approach.

Transitioning away from a tool as ubiquitous as Excel may come with its challenges, but with a structured approach, the rewards in terms of efficiency, scalability, and business adaptability can be immense. Remember, it’s not just about adopting a new tool, but about evolving your business processes to align with the future.

The Future Beyond Excel

While Excel will remain a powerful tool for various tasks, the dynamic business environment demands more adaptable and scalable solutions. Low-code platforms, with their agility and customisation capabilities, are positioning themselves as the tools of the future.

Take Action

Are you experiencing limitations with Excel as your business needs grow? It’s time to transition to low-code platforms. Let Velocity to guide you through this transition, implementing low-code solutions that will revolutionise your operations.

Looking to reduce or eliminate Excel?

Contact Velocity IT today, and let us guide your transition away from Excel, deploying tailored low-code solutions that elevate your business operations.