Turning Excel files into SaaS applications: How to monetize your Excel spreadsheet

Posted on March 15, 2024

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As the go-to tool for data organization and analysis, businesses have long built bespoke Excel tools to power many of their most fundamental internal business processes, from pricing calculations, project estimation and management to financial modeling. But along the way, a new business opportunity has emerged — leveraging such bespoke spreadsheets as products in their own right. However, in its native Excel form both the marketability and deliverability of these “products” greatly limits the business potential. What is needed is a way to repackage these Excel tools and make them available as online SaaS products and sold on a subscription model to end users.

Done correctly, these repackaged tools hide their spreadsheet underpinnings while also eliminating the fundamental limitations inherent in sharing spreadsheets.

Here, we’ll explore the process of transforming Excel spreadsheets into income-generating Excel-based SaaS products.

 

Excel to SaaS

Businesses spend countless hours crafting intricate spreadsheets and refining business logic. However, the limitations of traditional Excel deployments have become increasingly apparent. Progressive organizations are now seeking to harness the value locked up in their Excel assets by converting them into unique web applications, delivered on a cloud subscription basis, that can be monetized by the owner.

Maximizing Excel returns

With this development, businesses can leverage existing resources for maximum returns. The meticulously built formulas, data models, and workflow logic that define an organization’s Excel workflows represent a substantial investment of time and effort. While these tools may provide value deployed internally or even on websites to entice customers into purchasing a product or service, a more direct revenue stream can be unlocked by repurposing the same tool within a SaaS framework. This enables businesses to transform it into a direct revenue-generating asset.

By embracing this transformation, organizations can not only extend the lifespan of their Excel investments but also position themselves for sustained growth and profitability in an increasingly competitive market.

 

Common applications of Excel to SaaS

Excel tools are often used for various calculators, product and service pricing, order forms, financial planning and modeling, and project management, among many other diverse applications. In many cases these tools are generic and can be used by a wide audience without any customization, while in other cases, specific local or applicable costs, such as for raw materials or manpower rates, need to be downloadable to provide the correct computations. EASA applications can easily be set up to accept downloadable data files, which can contain the local applicable costs, options, or other variables, providing customization to fit individual needs.

Here are some of the common applications of Excel to SaaS we frequently encounter:

Financial calculators and planning models

Excel tools, ranging from budgeting templates to complex financial forecasting models, can be transformed into intuitive web applications. Users can access powerful financial analysis capabilities, enabling them to make informed decisions regarding budgeting, investment strategies, and long-term planning with ease.

Businesses can monetize these tools by offering subscription-based access to advanced financial analysis features. This empowers users to optimize their financial strategies and make data-driven decisions, gaining a competitive edge.

Product and service configurators

Small businesses operating in industries such as manufacturing, construction, or custom services often rely on Excel-based configurators and estimators. These tools facilitate the rapid and reliable generation of quotes, estimates, and project plans. The configurators are often generic and can be easily adopted with minimal changes by other companies in the same line of business, presenting a revenue opportunity when made available within that market.

Furthermore, for local variables such as varying cost of materials or manpower rates, rather than manually editing individual spreadsheets, EASA applications can be developed with data upload facilities. These facilities save information within a database linked to each customer, providing easy customization of the application to meet specific customers requirements.

Academic planning tools

Academic institutions and educational organizations can improve their planning processes by transforming Excel-based tools into comprehensive web applications. These applications assist students, faculty, and administrators in tasks such as course scheduling, program planning, and instructor availability management. Users gain access to intuitive interfaces that facilitate efficient decision-making and resource allocation within the academic environment.

By offering subscription-based access to comprehensive academic planning solutions, businesses can monetize their tools while providing educational institutions with streamlined scheduling, resource management, and decision-making capabilities.

 

How to monetize your Excel spreadsheet

Businesses looking to transform their Excel spreadsheets into web apps have several options. However, each approach comes with its own set of challenges and considerations that must be carefully evaluated.

Coding a tool from scratch

Sending native Excel files

Sharing spreadsheets using Google Sheets

In summary, while these options provide avenues for businesses to monetize their Excel spreadsheets, they each come with significant inherent limitations. Businesses must navigate these complexities strategically to maximize the value of their Excel assets and ensure the success of their SaaS endeavors.

 

Partner with EASA to convert your Excel spreadsheets to SaaS

While options such as coding from scratch, sharing native Excel files, or utilizing platforms like Google Sheets may seem viable on the surface, they often come with significant drawbacks, ranging from development expenses to security concerns to a complete inability to reliably deploy these Excel products.

So, what’s the solution?

Excel-to-web services offer the optimal path forward. By harnessing the power of Excel-to-web platforms like EASA, businesses can seamlessly convert their Excel spreadsheets into custom web applications without the need for costly and slow development efforts or compromising on security and usability.

When converting with EASA, users can utilize their original spreadsheets as the “logic” engine while replacing the Excel- based user interface into a browser-accessible and secure web page. This process allows businesses to completely hide the fact that a spreadsheet is operating behind the scenes, presenting a more elegant product. Upfront investment and time is minimized, edits and updates are simple and straightforward, and the application runs reliably and completely free from the normal Excel limitations such as version confusion, exposed IP,  and undesirable edits. The end user never comes in contact with the actual spreadsheet. 

Transitioning Excel spreadsheets into subscription-based SaaS products via an Excel-to-web platform opens up a brand new direct revenue stream for businesses. By monetizing their existing tools and intellectual property, organizations can achieve a high return on investment while providing added value to their customers.

 

Stay ahead of the curve in an increasingly competitive marketplace by converting Excel to SaaS. Learn more about the EASA platform or request a demo today.