The Dangers and Risks of Using Spreadsheets

By January 18, 2018July 16th, 2020Blog

According to Lee Clarke at Dynama, ditching spreadsheets is the first step to success in today’s highly competitive cruise market. Here he argues the case for automation

The cruise industry continues to grow, according to the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) 2017 outlook[i] with river cruises gaining popularity.  Floating palaces complete with spas, beauty salons, pools, libraries, cinemas and freestyle dining are in demand from holiday makers worldwide. As a result, the competition among cruise companies to ensure the right crew is in the right place at the right time to deliver the ultimate guest experience increases exponentially. It also means that some of the most trusted, traditional and well-loved methods used to manage these luxury cruise ships can no longer cope with increased demand.

Take the humble spreadsheet. It never fails to amaze how many people use them to manage crew movement on a day-to-day basis and even plan schedules based on historical experience.  It must be the comfort factor.  Spreadsheets give everyone their own version of the truth, with complete autonomy to update and amend data as often as they like, without interference from anyone else.

However, while spreadsheets might be a great tool at an individual level, they are static and limited in terms of scalability. Just think of the complexity involved when there are fleets of ships manned by thousands of crew around the world in different time zones!

Fortunately, the latest automated enterprise resource planning and workforce optimisation (WFO) systems are designed to maximise crew and resources at all times to boost business success and guest satisfaction. This simple ‘at a glance’ view of the pros and cons of spreadsheets gives five very good reasons to make the switch:

Automated approach to WFO Spreadsheet approach to WFO
Global view with data all in one place Multiple sources of information and views of the truth
Prevents silos No workflows or processes – each department works in isolation
Manages big data No functionality for historical or future analysis
Creates efficiencies Time consuming and error-prone
Information is easy to share Easy to corrupt formulae and calculations


It’s time to ditch those spreadsheets! Deploy automated enterprise resource planning and workforce optimisation solutions to benefit from:

  • Global Viewmodern integrated WFO software brings together every piece of information you’ll ever need to run a successful cruise ship. A centralised repository of real-time data gives a complete picture of crew members and activities – the ship they work on and their skills as well as important travel plans and documentation such as certificates, medicals, passports and visas, berthing locations, availability and training competencies. This aids the development of efficient schedules and guarantees the most appropriately skilled and available crew members are in the right place at the right time. Meeting the requirements of key crew members also boosts morale and aids staff retention in an industry where skilled people are at a premium and loyalty has to be earned.
  • No more silos – automation encourages consistent ways of working across departments and the organisation as a whole. For example, travel administration when built into a resource and workforce optimisation platform, provides a transparent, birds-eye view of travel planning across different departments. So, if the travel and crewing teams work separately, which they frequently do in many organisations, having information all in one place makes booking flights and hotels more co-ordinated. It also minimises confusion, errors and the wasted expense of duplicate bookings!
  • Ability to manage big data – there’s no point in having multiple hand-crafted spreadsheets that hold huge amounts of static information that cannot connect to other data sources or be analysed to support the business. The latest automated solutions are innovative, highly scalable and future-proof. They are sophisticated enough to analyse current resource competencies and model for future requirements quickly and efficiently, whether you have one cruise ship or an entire fleet.
  • Increased efficiencies – automation and centrally stored information removes duplicated effort and reduces administration, time and staff costs. The latest solutions quickly clone existing vessels, positions and related data, making it easy to add new builds to a fleet in this rapidly expanding leisure sector. Lessons learnt from new classes of vessel can be implemented quickly to ensure the correct budget for headcount is incorporated into plans.
  • Improved information and knowledge sharing – a single holistic view articulates appropriate understanding and knowledge to decision makers who can then share and use it more collaboratively. This inevitably leads to more effective planning, preparation, schedule generation and cost control.

The cruise industry’s order book has reached a historic high. Why not take the opportunity to refresh your approach to workforce optimisation? Some of our customers have already taken the lead, for example Princess Cruises and Norwegian Cruise Lines with 17 and 15 ships respectively.

It’s time to step outside your comfort zone, ditch those spreadsheets and embrace a whole new world of automation. In return, you’ll be rewarded with efficient crews and schedules, an improved guest experience and a stronger than ever competitive advantage.

Interested to find out more? Meet our specialist team at Seatrade Cruise Global 2018 and find out how Dynama’s benefiting some of the world’s leading companies in the cruise industry with its automated crewing and resource management solution. Plus receive a free 20 minute demo. Click here for more details.

Lee Clarke is Regional Director – Northern Hemisphere, Dynama


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