This is a question we get asked all the time. Spreadsheets do feel like a natural place for a progression framework.
In many ways spreadsheets are perfect.
They are incredibly flexible. Everyone in your team already knows how to use them. They can be incredibly detailed. We've even heard it said that, "If your product is trying to replace the spreadsheet, build a different product".
And for the record, loads of companies use spreadsheets for their frameworks. But there are significant limitations.
One of our founders Jonny was a design manager who helped grow his department from 4-40 designers. One project he discovered the need for was a progression framework to help solve his designers concerns around career development. He spent an "incredibly painful" (his words) three months writing a framework from scratch in a spreadsheet. He then rolled it out to the team and... no-one used it. Two months later no-one could even find the link to it.
Spreadsheets are terrible for helping team members engage with their framework
If your team members don't engage with their framework, then there is no point having one. They wont provide the progression visibility for the team that you're after, and they wont keep people from looking elsewhere for progression. All that you'll achieve is ticking the box of having one.
Spreadsheets are fundamentally generic. They offer no help in visualising the content within them. So it's hard to know where you sit compared to your role, or to other roles in the organisation.
They also don't help you track how you are developing from one position on the framework to the next or assist in the conversations around development that are fundamental to progression. They just exist.
Spreadsheets are a nightmare with version control
Spreadsheets don't help you have consistency across the business. Every team, or indeed individual will have a different spreadsheet. How do you control the editing process? How do you control the different versions that exist? If every team member downloads their own version to track what they're doing, who has visibility over all of them? What happens if you want to make changes? Which you will - frameworks are a product not a project.
Spreadsheets don't give you any assistance with the build
Before all of that pain, in the build process the total flexibility of spreadsheets can prove tricky as well. They don't provide any best practice opinions as to how to build a framework. They don't provide any structure within which to do so. They also encourage a direct relationship between skills and hierarchy, which makes skill writing all the more difficult.
Since we were founded it's been our mission to solve these problems and make Progression (much) better than a spreadsheet.
I've got a spreadsheet already, do I need to start from scratch?
No. Most of what you've written will be usable. We have a csv upload function to help you get your skills into Progression so you don't have to start from scratch.