Today the BBC News website has a little feature on spreadsheet “snafus”.
I doubt if the writer of that headline realized how well the acronym “snafu” applies to spreadsheet usage everywhere ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Snafu)… Too true.
It’s about time people took the risks of spreadsheets seriously (although most still won’t). I only hope that some corporations or governments (and especially Microsoft) will take this issue to heart and rather than banning all spreadsheets (which wouldn’t surprise me – until they realize they really can’t) make the effort to develop the protocols, best practices and skills to get the safest results out of this irreplaceable technology.
If you need help, and you see a value in getting it, there are many of us out there who can help you with this risk – for a respectable fee of course.
A large part of the problem IMHO is that because Excel is considered a “loose cannon” in organizations and as such has not had any value placed on getting genuine professional help on their spreadsheets. Corporations do no training past the intro level and never bring in spreadsheet “experts” to upgrade their models and the skills of their staff.
To me it is this attitude that is the biggest threat to Microsoft’s whole BI “story” wrapped around using Excel as the source for Enterprise BI solutions. Although it’s undeniably great technology, it’s going to be a tough sell IMHO because it is in the Excel spreadsheet. Frankly Excel is the Rodney Dangerfield of the technology world .. it gets no respect.
This is a serious problem that smart companies must address – and soon – before their auditors shut down all spreadsheets and before anyone makes a SERIOUS commitment to PowerPivot and SharePoint’s PowerPivot based BI offering. Sarbanes-Oxley was a shock to the spreadsheet ecosystem but didn’t have the impact it should have IMHO. There is however a rising level of heat on this issue now (thanx largely to the Reinhart and Rogoff “Austerity SNAFU” – look it up)
If you love your spreadsheets it’s time to get serious about them or you will lose them and the result will be chaos – even worse than the chaos that some see in today’s spreadsheet world.
“Corporations do no training past the intro level and never bring in spreadsheet “experts” to upgrade their models and the skills of their staff.”
You nailed it. IT is always too busy to respond to user needs and pretty much ignores Excel altogether. In my experience the finance department becomes the default Excel experts and we “help” others when we can. The other day someone said something about Excel eventually going away and I just looked stunned, like a deer in the headlights. I thought they were on drugs, basically. I cannot imagine my world without it. I am good at Excel but I am not an expert – basically I know just enough to be dangerous. I am mostly self-taught and I cannot function without it. I think that is the story pretty much everywhere.