- Microsoft Excel has been a go to software for climate plan tracking, but there are more effective and reliable solutions available.
- We look at the problems behind using Excel for climate plan tracking and why it isn’t a long-term solution.
- A tool like FutureproofedCities offers greater reliability, cost-efficiency, and usability compared to excel sheets.
Many cities globally have now established sustainable energy and climate action plans. These plans have set out future targets for emission reductions, renewable energy developments, reducing waste, creating biodiverse cities, and many more actions! Putting these plans into action is important, and for a plan to be worthwhile, the actions have to be successfully implemented. A key factor for successful implementation is correctly tracking actions and setting target measurements. At the moment, a popular climate tracking tool for city teams is Microsoft Excel, and its usage is common practice within the sector. However, Excel has its drawbacks and may not be the best option for climate action tracking. There’s a better way to track your climate action plan.
😒 5 negatives of using Excel to track your climate action plan
Excel is a useful tool and has seen rapid adoption by many. But it has limitations. There are five main negatives of using Excel for your climate action tracking.
- Comprehensiveness – For a climate action plan to be effective, it needs to be comprehensive. This means that it should include all data relevant to the plan, financial, and societal calculations of potential actions, projected outcomes and progress visualization. The extent of the calculations and data requirements alone may be too much for an Excel sheet’s processing power, rendering it slow and ineffective for daily use.
- Sharing – A key aspect for a climate action plan is the ability to share the plan with stakeholders effectively. City officials will need to be briefed on the plan’s progress on a regular basis. They will be interested in information related to target achievement and spending, and citizens will also have an interest in the plan as it demonstrates the environmental friendliness of their city and what they can do to help. Excel doesn’t allow city teams to share this important information easily. A better way, a user could get the plan directly from an interactive webpage.
- Data Sourcing – When new climate data becomes available, it typically is manually inputted and changed within Excel. Newer software can be much more effective at data sourcing, automatically collaborating relevant data through a website API’s, for example. Also, city teams might have to deal with Excel macro updates. A common practice is to use Excel macros to semi-automate some processes. However, macros are hard to update and they often crash when updating. This leads to endless file versions and manual fixes.
- Human Error – This is a reality for any organizations that rely on Excel spreadsheets for modeling, planning, and analytics. Excel is only as good as its user, which inevitably leaves room for human error in calculations. This has a significant impact on its output. Centralized tracking platforms have much stronger reliability and governance with respect to underlying calculations and analytics.
- Transferability – City officials and administrative employees will change on a regular basis to new positions. Problems arise when the accountability for an excel-based tracker needs to be transferred to a new employee. Data, excel sheets, and organization can be lost with employee changes. A more task-specific software can alleviate this issue by having a standardized and easy-to-follow format that is accessible through an administrative login.
☀️ An alternative? FutureproofedCities a better way
A city’s climate action plan is complex, having numerous data sources all while needing to be communicated effectively to stakeholders and citizens. FutureproofedCities has developed a tool that caters to these requirements, while maintaining simplicity and reliability of complex analytics. The platform also helps to improve engagement from private citizens which has been a common struggle for city teams—sharing their climate actions with citizens.
FutureproofedCities regularly outperforms Excel. In this chart, you can see how it’s a better tool for your climate plan tracking.
The unfortunate reality is that overcoming the climate crisis is an enormous challenge for cities. It’s not just organizing the action, but it’s also selling the plan to stakeholders and working through the plan systematically. Microsoft Excel limits city teams from accurately tracking actions, importing data, and sharing the successful outcomes with citizens.
☀️ A tool like FutureproofedCities is the upgrade. While Excel may have served us well in the past, it's time to move to more advanced and efficient methods.
Antonio is the Climate Action Specialist at Futureproofed. His specialties include mitigation and adaptation measures research, urban climate adaptation, local climate data, and more. When he's not hard at work helping cities become more sustainable, he can be found cycling across Flemish fields.
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