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From spreadsheets to software: Thoughts from a former spreadsheet user
04 June 2019

From spreadsheets to software: Thoughts from a former spreadsheet user

When we ask new users “what did you do for your admin before you found our Coacha app?”, a huge majority of them will sigh and say “spreadsheets”. We’re so used to that familiar sound of disappointment by now and take great pleasure in helping clubs turn their lives around.

One recent club was so passionate about making the switch from spreadsheets to software (and app), that we just had to ask them to feature on our blog.

So, from a former spreadsheet user themselves, what does using spreadsheets mean for you and the whole sophistication level of your club?

The club (of 155 members) used 1 single spreadsheet for as much of their admin as they possibly could. Where it was becoming too much, they branched out to other manual systems that just didn’t fit the bill.


Firstly, thank you to the Coacha team for offering this opportunity to share my thoughts on the way we used to run our club. Our old system seemed to fit the bill until our club started growing. I then started to see the dangers of continuing to run our club using only 1 spreadsheet and made it my mission to make a change.

We ran this way for such a long time before I began to see it as a huge problem. I've highlighted my main issues below because I want to share my experience to show other clubs that there is another, safer, quicker way to sort your paperwork!



Potentially not being able to access emergency details

This was the one main aspect of using spreadsheets that gave me anxiety. The thought of there being an emergency and not being able to access the details I needed really worried me. I considered printing out member’s details before each session at one point, but then was reminded of data security by a friend who works in IT.

My laptop battery died during training once & it stresses me out just thinking about it. I had no way of accessing anything; who’s paid, registers, emergency details etc. That was the breaking point for me. It looked terrible, the coaches didn’t know what was going on, neither did the parents and we looked so unprofessional. That’s the point where I knew I needed to make a change.



Keeping on top of member data changes

This used to take me so much time! I wanted members to be able to just share my spreadsheet and update their own details, but obviously this couldn’t happen.

There was a lot of data that became out of date and even some changes to the wrong member data too which nearly caused a lot of problems.

Other external processes

As the club grew, we needed to add more manual processes to our admin like using WhatsApp, accounting systems etc. So, every time I updated the spreadsheet, I had to update the other systems too. It was laborious.



Spreadsheet registers

A friend of mine helped me set up some pretty complicated excel formulas when we first launched. This worked okay when we had 1-15 members, but as soon as we introduced more coaching staff, it was clear it wasn’t fitting the bill. I ended up typing out each register and printing them for the coaches. Afterwards, I’d then have to sit down and input all of the registers into the spreadsheet.

The hardest part

I had to do everything myself because the process was so messy, no one else could understand it. It just took so much time and was so repetitive every single week.




Using spreadsheets for tracking payments

This was one of the most difficult parts of my whole job as it just took so much time! We used to get members/parents to set up standing orders into our club’s account and then check manually to make sure the payments had gone in on the payment date. The hardest part was getting members to set up the direct debit, remembering to chase them and then having to check the payment had gone through every single month.

It was time-consuming, stressful & SO confusing. I spent hours every single month trying to track 150+ payments, keeping lists of who hadn’t paid and chasing them. By the time I'd finished, it was normally time for the next payment to come out and the process would start again.




Contacting members

It was easy enough to send out a WhatsApp message, but I was never 100% sure whether I was missing anyone. Then there was also the difficulty of making sure children were contacted appropriately. Looking back, using WhatsApp to communicate club matters (especially with children) seems so unprofessional. I’m glad we’re far away from that now.

Keeping child protection in mind

I'd differentiate between adult & child by pure memory. But as the club grew and I started to delegate classes to my new coaches, it was hard because I didn’t know a lot of the parents. With so many young children having phones/email addresses nowadays, I was very nervous of contacting them directly instead of their parents. I wasn’t confident that I was always abiding by child protection best practice which was a worry.


Other stuff

Data security

I always had the security of my members' data in the back of my mind. I knew that password protected spreadsheets weren't ideal as there were systems with much higher security that we could be using. I was always very conscious of my laptop getting stolen and worried about what I’d do if it did.


Realistically, we weren’t using spreadsheets for the purpose they were designed for. So, our previous admin brought no safeguarding perks to our club. And working with so many children, this was an area I really wanted to improve on.




I used to dread the day someone asked me if they could see what data I hold on them. Between spreadsheets, standing orders, WhatsApp messages, external lists for uniform etc., everything was everywhere. GDPR coming into place really made me think about the data I hold on my athletes & what I do with it.

So, what's changed?

So much has changed! But overall, the team is more united.

With our new app, I can trust them to do their own registers/look after their own team’s information, so they have more responsibility. This has given them a lot more morale and taken so much work off my hands. I’ve saved hours of time writing out/correcting registers and I’m actually shocked that we’ve saved money too. I don’t have to sit and check every single payment has been made anymore and I’m being informed of more and more failed payments that I would’ve normally missed.

We used spreadsheets to their fullest extent and they still didn’t cover even a quarter of what we needed. Our members are also really pleased with being able to log in and view or change their personal information. Plus, the additional safeguarding and GDPR aspects have been a huge bonus and I'm much more confident in our club's ability to work with best practice.

I honestly can’t believe that I struggled with spreadsheets for so long without even realizing it. One thing I’d say to anyone using spreadsheets for their admin is, even if you don’t initially see them to be a hinderance, ask yourself if you’d like to gain more time and save money.

A few hours a week on admin may not seem like a lot to you if you’ve been doing it this way for a while. But just think of the things you could do with saved hours. I’ve put on 2 extra classes per week and spend a lot more time with my little girl. Overall, it’s the best decision I’ve ever made.