James Galley

Web application developer

PHP, Yii, MySQL, Node.js - JavaScript, HTML, CSS & SASS - Linux, AWS & serverless

Replacing Excel spreadsheets with web applications

It's common for businesses to build up processes that are managed using Excel spreadsheets, however they can become unweildy and inefficient.

By creating a web application to replace your Excel spreadsheet processes, you can use the power of web technologies to improve your business.

Spreadsheets must rank highly on a list of most important inventions of the computer age. Since VisiCalc was created for the Apple II in 1979, spreadsheets have made business possible.

In my experience of working with businesses of all sizes, and in my own businesses, I have seen first hand how spreadsheets can provide essential functions to running a business. Not only are they useful for computing and validating numbers accurately or creating quick proof-of-concept models, but they can also provide ways to organise and track information and for planning. Excel spreadsheets can become embedded into business processes, forming crucial pieces of business operations.

Screenshot of a spreadsheet application

However there often comes a time that a spreadsheet is no longer fit for purpose, for a variety of reasons.

Benefits of web-based apps vs spreadsheets

Replacing a spreadsheet process with a web application can bring a number of benefits:

  • Restrict the users, offering different permission levels and tracking their actions
  • Integrate the processes and data used in the spreadsheet with other business systems
  • Access the data or perform the processes remotely over the internet
  • Turn the process into an offering or service you can resell to your own clients

All of these limitations of spreadsheets can be accomplished by building a web application to replace them. In some cases it may even be possible to use off-the-shelf software, but create new data flows via API's or other interfaces.

I have built numerous web applications using Excel spreadsheets as a model, reverse engineering complex spreadsheets to replicate and improve on their functionality in PHP and JavaScript web applications.