Spreadsheet used as a database/application.

One department in our company still maintain their customer records and contacts in a spreadsheet document. They do lots of analysis and reporting on the data for their service. The data is also used for other purposes. There are numerous proper applications on the market which also offer the same functionality for their line of business but they seem adamant in keeping their trusty spreadsheet as their main 'system'. Can there be any risks limitations or shortfalls in using a spreadsheet almost as a proper system/database just so we can make them aware and consider they review whether a spreadsheet is the right tool for recording their data. It sounds an odd approach but need to ensure we have identifed the problems in their solution, if indeed there are any.
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pma111Asked:
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Rob HensonFinance AnalystCommented:
Audit trail of changes, what changed and by whom.

Once a change is made and saved the original data is lost other than resorting to recovery from a backup.

@Fabrice -
Spreadsheets can't ensure that data type remain correct, neither ensure data integrity, nor data constraints or default values.
Data Validation can overcome maintaining data type, formula/VBA based checks can check for integrity.
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Geert GOracle dbaCommented:
moving the file to some place different "by accident", grab a bag of chips, sit back and then see all hell breaks loose

should be easy to convince them to have backups, or a better system, etc after that
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Aaron TomoskySD-WAN SimplifiedCommented:
recoverability. Assuming it's on a server fileshare with the appropriate permissions, script copy/version that thing often.
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pma111Author Commented:
Single use was one we'd thought of e.g. cannot be updated by multiple officers at a given time.
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Aaron TomoskySD-WAN SimplifiedCommented:
If it's in share point online (ms teams), multiple users works fine and it versions.
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pma111Author Commented:
Its just on a traditional windows file server
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Fabrice LambertFabrice LambertCommented:
Hi,

Spreadsheets can't ensure that data type remain correct, neither ensure data integrity, nor data constraints or default values.
They can't handle triggers either.

Plus, if reading spreadhseets trough SQL work fine, adding, deleting, updating rows can be a nightmare.
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Serena HsiMarketing ConsultantCommented:
There are some lower cost CRM systems out there like ZohoCRM. And if you're a nonprofit, there's Salesforce for NonProfits.
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