electronic-database-management-vs-excelTraditionally, environmental engineering firms and those with whom they work on site investigations have relied on Microsoft Excel to sort and manage data and to prepare tables to create comparative reports, charts and graphs, in order to understand the existing situation and then assess options for remedial action.

An environmental database management systementirely transforms the way your work is done. Not to mention the quality of your results. Let’s compare the two.

Excel lets you:

  • Create KPIs or Key Performance Indicators. But your investigative work requires comparing data to other findings as well as regulatory guidelines or other parameters.
  • Automatically perform calculations. But you have to redo the formulas every time you alter a query before you can rerun it.
  • Collect and update large amounts of data from multiple sources. But who’s going to double-check that data and convert the metrics for consistency? You or your staff. No wonder projects take so long. Is this the best use of your time?
  • Analyze data. What if someone makes a mistake, or omits something? You’ll have to start over.
  • Create charts and graphs for modeling. But Excel cannot produce geographic visualizations.
  • Upload your files to the cloud so someone else can share them using web-based or mobile access. You can even work simultaneously. But all you’re really sharing is Excel files and reports. Excel is great for creating financial reports,  managing budgets, etc. You need to do those things, but that’s far from all you need to do when you’re working on an investigation.

Newer versions of Excel offer enhanced analytical and data management capabilities as well as more types of sharing. Excel 2013 promises more advancements. Of course you may not even have the latest and greatest version, and you have to pay to upgrade every time you want more powerful features.

However you dress it up, Excel is still limited. It’s spreadsheet software. It doesn’t encompass the scope necessary to comprehensively and specifically serve environmental engineering and related scientific investigation or even the non-scientific aspects of your projects.

You need to see the lay of the land – literally – not just the numbers.

It doesn’t have to be that way.

An environmental database management system is the total package, designed expressly with you in mind. It’s a comprehensive tool that proves the value of automation. Here’s how:

  • You can fully organize all your data, from whatever sources and in whatever formats, legacy or newly-acquired in real time. It’s all uploaded digitally and housed in a single, central database. No more time-consuming manual data entry or the inherent risk of mistakes and omissions. No more searching for the information you need.
  • You have 24/7 access, from anywhere there’s an internet connection. Every project team member can use the data they need, anytime. Even if someone else is also using it.
  • Automatically convert units. No more tedious math to ensure the metrics match.

Then there’s “intelligent automation.” An environmental database management system goes beyond sidestepping mundane clerical work to actively support analytical processes. You can pose endless queries and receive lightning-quick responses, so you can evaluate every possible variable and potential opportunity. That supports deeper analysis and exploration of more ingenious approaches to solutions.

And here’s the best part.

An environmental database management system interfaces smoothly with visualization software, so you can rapidly generate multi-dimensional, multi-color representations of the site and see the detailed analysis of each sampling location. And you can modify your graphics as easily as the queries themselves. Get the picture?

Excel just can’t meet these standards. It’s certainly better than nothing, but sometimes it can seem like more of a hindrance than help. On the other hand, when you have the right tool for the job, you can get more done, faster and more accurately. And that can do wonders for your reputation and your bottom line.