There was mass panic at a British high street retailer recently when the launch day loomed for its much-hyped new shopping system. But there was one massive snag – the new computer system wasn’t ready. In stores and warehouses up and down the country they had to improvise with spreadsheets. It was a system everyone understood – and it worked.
This story confirms two things many of us already suspected. One, computers and suppliers often let you down. Two, when the computer says no, you can always rely on common sense and a spreadsheet. The Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales, recently found that 42 per cent of British businesses still handle critical business processes using spreadsheets. However, there are limitations, spreadsheet users trying to share one copy of data can rapidly get out of synchronisation, losing time, patience and data.
One Birmingham based start-up company has developed a powerful solution to this problem. Synapse has created technology that works around this data sharing issue, according to founding CEO Brian Donnelly. “Spreadsheets are incredibly popular. The business user is in complete charge of her spreadsheet creations and can model the processes she wants perfectly, without the mismatch caused by asking IT or software vendors for help,” says Brian.
Synapse, with its growing team of local computer scientists, and helped along with the UK Government SMART R&D Grant funding of £500,000, has created a unique solution to the problem. “We saw this problem repeated all over the world. Customers, fed up with inflexible software solutions, built their own spreadsheet workarounds. There were drawbacks but the only thing on offer from IT was to buy more inflexible software solutions. We decided to solve the fundamental problem at source,” explains Brian.
Synapse connects every business users’ desktop spreadsheet to their secure Cloud Server; as each person types in new data, it appears, in a controlled fashion, on everyone else’s desktop spreadsheet. “A leading high street bank asked us to fix a severe PPI resolution problem they were experiencing. We connected more than 400 of their advisors to our Cloud Server black box and solved their problem immediately, saving them time and money,” says Brian.
Synapse is now making its solution available as a mass market product for Group Companies struggling with spreadsheets to complete their monthly financial close and consolidated accounts. So, there is hope for the companies that complain they are drowning in spreadsheets.