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It’s true, Excel is a powerful business tool that’s great at doing a lot of things. But tracking employee certifications isn’t one of them.

If you’re currently using Excel to track certifications, chances are you’ve had to employ a lot of complex workarounds, and even then you’ve encountered a few setbacks.

These setbacks might seem small at first, like finding you have multiple versions of the same file floating around. But if you’ve neglected your file for even a short period of time, you might come back to find a number of your employee’s certifications have lapsed. That’s not such a small setback.

Excel can introduce a variety of issues into your business if you’re using it to track employee certifications. Here are seven reasons why you should reconsider it for tracking.

Reason 1: Productivity

With an Excel file, only one person (at a time) can perform data entry. (Unless you’re paying for Microsoft OneDrive and have co-authoring capabilities.) This can take a lot of time depending on your industry, the types of certifications you’re tracking, and how much information you need to keep track of. Add to that the time spent coordinating with employees to obtain updated or new certification information. All that time really adds up, creating a productivity drain on your business.

Reason 2: Accuracy

Raise your hand if this sounds familiar: you’re editing a spreadsheet, someone needs to add to it, you save it, email it to them, they make changes, save it, send it back, you make changes, save it, send it back…and the vicious cycle continues.

Excel isn’t meant to be a living document you can edit and update in real time, let alone allow staff to access it and edit it in real time. So you’re constantly playing this catch up game to keep your document “up-to-date.”

Reason 3: Visibility

When using Excel to track certifications, only those with a copy of the workbook can view it. If you want employees to view it, then you have to provide access to it. If you’re tracking any sensitive information or certifications that other employees shouldn’t see, then sharing becomes complicated. You’re stuck trying to create separate files, docs, or emails to share with just a single employee and no one else. Then you’re back to a productivity nightmare again.

Reason 4: Flexibility

You wouldn’t try to use your refrigerator as a dishwasher, would you? Even though they’re both in the kitchen and have to do with food, one isn’t meant to do the other. That’s Excel when it comes to attaching documents. Excel is meant for tracking and analyzing data. While you can “attach” other Excel files or Word files to a spreadsheet, It’s not meant to attach PDFs or images that you might have of employee certifications.

Reason 5: Proactivity

Remember that scenario mentioned earlier? Not checking your certification tracker spreadsheet for some time and finding employee certifications have lapsed? Well Excel’s fifth downfall is a two-parter: 1) it can’t automatically remind you and your staff about upcoming expirations; 2) it can’t draw your attention to the most urgent dates first.

Technically, you could cobble together a partial solution if you’re an Excel wizard who’s mastered macros and advanced conditional formatting. But again, that’s like trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. Excel can’t do it all, and complex workarounds like this are not sustainable or reliable.

Reason 6: Protection

While Excel does allow you to set up password protected sheets, its abilities are limited. Even Microsoft’s support docs for Excel clearly warn against, “distributing Excel workbooks that could contain sensitive personal information like…employee identification.” Additionally, if you lose the password, there’s no retrieval method. That’s not a safe and secure plan to track important information of any kind.

Reason 7: Organization

It’s really easy for companies to rack up an excess of spreadsheets. This is exacerbated by employee turnover, as knowledge and documents get lost between employee transitions. A certification tracking spreadsheet is just one more that can get lost in the crowd.

You don’t have to deal with Excel’s shortcomings though. There’s a better way to track employee certifications. You can track them with CertPanda.

CertPanda is an online software that tracks certifications, licenses, qualifications, and associated documentation. Unlike a spreadsheet, CertPanda allows employees to enter certifications themselves, which helps with productivity and information accuracy. Furthermore, employees have their own secure login, allowing them to view their certifications at any time.

CertPanda is also a master of proactivity. The software not only draws your attention to the most urgent items, allowing you to focus on those dates without getting lost in a hundred others, but it also proactively notifies you before any certificates or licenses expire.

Ready to give up Excel and use a better system for tracking employee certifications? Sign up for CertPanda’s free trial today at

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