<img src="//bat.bing.com/action/0?ti=5439530&amp;Ver=2" height="0" width="0" style="display:none; visibility: hidden;">

Blog

How using Excel to manage your Application and Review process is hurting your program’s reputation

How using Excel to manage your Application and Review process is hurting your program’s reputation

OpenWater’s advantage as a comprehensive solution for Associations is in its ability to manage any application and review process using software built for just that – managing application data and corresponding reviews. We often get a lot of people who ask about OpenWater, and upon hearing of our functionalities, say: “Oh, it’s pretty much what a regular formbuilder would do. Why can’t people just use Google Forms for that?”

Google Forms is an extremely robust tool. It’s also free and widely-available, making it an extremely attractive option for organizations for which cost is a huge deciding factor. ‘So what if all the applications we’re getting dumps into one massive excel spreadsheet? We’ll just have an intern plough through the submissions and deal with it from there.’ But what admins aren’t taking into account is that Google Forms or any other free formbuilder softwares just aren’t built to handle mid-to-large scale program applications that most organizations and enterprises that work with us are handling on a day-to-day basis.

Aside from it being an outdated way of sorting through information that may come in the form of hundreds of thousands of applications, you might actually be doing your program a disservice by co-opting a tool that’s just not built to handle the load you’re putting on it. So it’s not just a matter of efficiency – of trying to make this process faster and easier – but a matter of effectiveness, one that has a direct line of impact to your program’s reputation.


1. Excel creates a problem with Disconnect.

Not only does Excel make it extraordinarily difficult for you to format everything, it also makes it tougher for admins to keep track of all the moving parts in your program. The lack of an in-built communication system within Excel makes it a requirement for you to set up another method of communicating with your applicants and reviewers. If you think that’s an issue, traversing the problem of having to keep track of multiple email/paper-based submissions and attachments that are coming at you from all different directions is even more extraordinarily difficult, especially if you’re working on multiple computers with multiple admins.

2. Excel can’t manage a Review System.

Most of our clients come to OpenWater because of this. While Excel is a pretty useful tool in and of itself when it comes to computing data, with any sort of scoring system that goes beyond basic plug-and-play, it’s hard to program without running the risk of messing up a certain cell and ruining the hours of work you’ve put into formatting all your information (which, by the way, seems like a job you shouldn’t have had to do in the first place!).

On the other hand, for OpenWater, we have a dedicated review-side of the system that allows reviewers to log in, view assignments, and submit scores – all without the need to fill a single cell on a spreadsheet. It allows reviewers to easily connect with admins – or the other way around – to request for assistance or clarification at any point without the need to rely on a separate communication platform.

3. Excel risks your program’s reputation.

An experienced program administrator would flinch at just the thought of something going wrong with a formula in one small cell on a master spreadsheet – mostly because of the likelihood of something like that happening using a tool like Excel.

The biggest issue with using Excel as an administrative platform mostly has a lot to do with small things that seem really insignificant at the start becoming big things that impact the program in larger ways further down the line. If anything goes wrong with excel, which is entirely possible, admins run the risk of losing important applicant/reviewer data. To re-fill that lost data, you might have to go back to applicants and ask them for additional information or clarification – putting your program’s reputation on the line.

On top of that, the lack of an in-built communication system makes it almost impossible to send out customized email blasts quickly to get in touch with people to get the time-sensitive information you need. Before you know it, you might have missed a deadline or two.


By choosing to use Excel, you’re putting your client’s data at a lot of risk.

Putting all of this together and looking at how fragile Excel can be as a hosting tool, we would even go to say that by using Excel as your main application and review platform you’re putting your applicants’ and reviewers’ data at a lot of risk. Data privacy is something that has a direct line of impact to your program’s prestige and reputation, and it’s definitely something worth investing your time and attention into.


It’s time to ditch the spreadsheets.

What OpenWater does is provide you with an online, cloud-based system that organizes everything for you, automates your communication, and simplifies the collection of submissions – making the review process a breeze. But it’s not just the convenience and the efficiency of it that draws our clients to us – more so the fact of the matter that any organization or association that runs a program of some sorts need a system dedicated to both ends of the application and review process. OpenWater provides a central solution to that, which is why top organizations trust us with their programs.

Interested in scheduling a demo? Click here to learn more about the OpenWater growthstack.

Read more: Client Spotlight – How AsMA Turned Their Fellowship Program Around using OpenWater

Read more: WebinarWednesdays – How American Association of Public Opinion Researchers Uses OpenWater

Annika is a Content Marketing Associate at OpenWater, where she helps our clients better navigate the challenges they may encounter in the associations world. She has a passion in helping organizations and nonprofits share their stories with the growing technology sector. When she's not typing away on her keyboard in our Arlington HQ, she's steering boats on the Potomac River or running the streets of DC.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *