Spreadsheets are a nightmare for most people, but it’s still the go-to for compiling large amounts of data to share with others. There’s plenty of newer software that’s trying to reduce the complicated nature of spreadsheets, but at the end of the day, you’re still having to deal with cells and maintaining data integrity. Because if spreadsheets get passed around and utilized by many people, there’s a very good chance that mistakes will be made. Sure, you can lock sheets and cells, but those added steps only make spreadsheets more complex.

We were recently faced with a challenge of processing over 25 different spreadsheets with thousands of rows of data to decipher what information we needed to utilize, and then pull those pieces of information into yet another complied spreadsheet. Each row was a short voice over script that describes various alcoholic beverages, as well as additional details about the product. And anyone who’s pretty familiar with Excel will know - spreadsheets and thousands of paragraphs of text do not play well together.

There had to be a better way!

Instead of continuing to use the antiquated method of passing spreadsheets back and forth as email attachments, we built a collaborative web-based platform that utilized the data from just one CSV. Through Expression Engine and the management of user permissions, we were able to bring everyone together to work on one platform. What used to be a complicated and scattered process of dozens of emails and phone calls, simplified down to these 4 steps:

1. The client can upload their voice over script CSV into the app, which eliminates the need to email a spreadsheet.

2. After the upload, the project manager is able to proof the import and assign the scripts to various voice over artists.

3. The voice over artist can sign in and work on their assigned voice over scripts by recording them one at a time and uploading the MP3. The MP3 is then automatically saved onto our server with its corresponding script label. This was a hugely efficient step in the process because it eliminated the need to share storage accounts like Dropbox, for voice over artists to deliver their MP3’s.

4. The final step is when the project manager approves the voice over audio, which triggers the app to then transmit those MP3’s to the clients’ Amazon S3 account.

By automating as many steps as possible and allowing everyone to edit or add to the voice over script database in the same place, the workflow became significantly simpler and easier to manage. The client is relieved because it’s easy for them to get scripts recorded quickly. The project managers are thrilled to not have to “decode” spreadsheets and manage voice over artists individually. And the voice over artists are happy to work on a system that keeps track of what scripts need to be completed and automatically delivers MP3’s. Everyone wins.