Spreadsheet Application Migration (P&G)

Using spreadsheets for operational applications is a very expensive free solution.

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Why replace spreadsheet applications with Salesforce?

The ease with which spreadsheets can be used to build simple applications is both a blessing and a curse.  It allows you to build a quick and dirty solution to a situation, but it often then grows into something well beyond its original purpose.  Since it usually does so over time, the users of the system take it for granted, its limitations are endured, and it is rarely migrated to a more suitable environment. 

What do spreadsheet applications lack?


  • Complex data relationships
  • Complex data validation
  • Complex data integration
  • Lack of data integrity checks

Controls and Integrity

  • Fine-grained permissions  
  • Compliance  
  • Automated notifications, reminders, and escalations
  • Audit Trail
  • Exception handling
  • Transparency of calculations and rules 


  • Workflow design and visualization
  • Workflow analytics


  • Who’s working on what when
  • Collaboration in context    


  • Consistent methodology 
  • Good design 
  • Task assignment 
  • Scalability

When do you know it’s time to replace the spreadsheet?

  • The spreadsheet becomes part of a core process.
  • The spreadsheet plugs a gap between processes.
  • Multiple worksheets have a tangle of forms and formulas.
  • Information is dispersed among multiple applications.
  • Spreadsheets are emailed around for data collection and synthesis.
  • Spreadsheets are placed on a shared drive for multi-user access and update.
  • Spreadsheets produce error-prone recurring reports.

  • Employees spend an inordinate amount of time cutting and pasting, updating, consolidating and re-entering data onto spreadsheets.
  • Only one person understands how the spreadsheet works.

  • Employees enter the same data into separate spreadsheets in order to see information in different ways.
  • Frequently finding out-of-date information in spreadsheets. 

  • Spreadsheets become large and unwieldy.

What are the benefits of switching to Salesforce?

Migrating an operational spreadsheet to Salesforce solves all the problems mentioned above.

In addition, there is much more functionality available, much better multi-user support, and much greater flexibility.

What are the challenges replacing spreadsheets? 

The obvious challenges include:


  1. Designing a data model to match the spreadsheet data.
  2. Overlaying a workflow over the implied spreadsheet workflow.
  3. Designing forms for data entry.
  4. Building dashboards and reports.


Less obvious but just as important challenges include:


  1. Providing the users with the same simplicity that a spreadsheet affords, like the ability to go to a single screen and enter whatever data they need to enter, without having to scroll through menus or access multiple screens.
  2. Providing users with the flexibility to easily modify workflows, forms, and data structures.

How does Work-Relay work?

Work-Relay has the tools and services needed to migrate spreadsheet applications to Salesforce in a timely and cost-effective manner.

Case Study


A consumer goods company was managing their Design to Print projects using operational project tracking spreadsheets (Excel). Each project has multiple milestones ranging from initial design templates to copy and final art. Based on the project definition, some milestones may not apply and can be skipped.

The objective in converting this into a Work-Relay process-driven application was to track both process and project metrics as users update data and complete milestones, and to keep the user interface simple – essentially mimicking the single worksheet Excel experience but overlaying process on top of it to manage task assignments, automatic calculation of milestone dates, and be able to audit project progress using detailed reports and dashboards.


The spreadsheet only offered a current snapshot of where milestones were in a project, with no audit history as milestones were completed. Absent this data, it is difficult to track time spent in each milestone, where the bottlenecks are, and where opportunities for improvement exist.

Also, the single shared spreadsheet was difficult to manage with multiple users accessing it at different times, and presented scaling problems as the number of projects increased.


We created a Work-Relay application called “FlowBoard” to allow a spreadsheet-like experience for users to view and update data, and advance milestones from a single screen. Different users interact with the application based on their roles, so Project Managers set up and oversee projects, Department Owners are responsible for completing the requirements for their assigned milestone. Other users throughout the organization have access to project data in read-only format.