Sometimes one’s job may change so that you suddenly become responsible for keeping track of the company’s recurring software and IT expenses. This often happens to IT managers or admin staff at smaller companies going through expansion, or more traditional businesses increasing their use of SaaS services.
If this new responsibility happens unexpectedly, you may be in a position where the necessary systems are not in place to deal with this new task. A logical first step is to use a spreadsheet for tracking the expenses. These kinds of spreadsheets evolve over time as the questions they need to answer inevitibly become more and more demanding.
Initially the only question is “What is the list of services we use and what does it cost each month?”. Before long you will have to answer “Give me a weekly breakdown of our commitments, taking into account the non-monthly payments, converted to our local currency and grouped by the credit cards used for the payments.”
Building a spreadsheet that can answer these questions is not difficult but it does take time to figure out which bits of information are required, and this can be very time consuming. Each time a new data field is added to the spreadsheet you need to log into each service, or locate the contract, or motivate the person that has access to the service to log in, and obtain the extra information to update your spreadsheet. It may sound contrived but when you get to fifteen or twenty services such an updating process can easily take up most of a day.
The obvious way to prevent such a waste of time is to have your data requirements ready before you start to collect the information. It is difficult to think of all the necessary fields you would need without having used your spreadsheet before but taking time to think about it will definitely save you some time.