“I spent more time with Excel than with my wife……….”

“I spent more time with Excel than with my wife……….”

I confess to being a “Quote Magpie”. I take copious notes at meetings and highlight little phrases and insights that capture my imagination, and then re-use them, without betraying confidences.

The phrase above caught my attention, and indeed that of everyone else, at the Capventis Qlik Sense Tour in Dublin on June 21st. The hottest, longest day of the year, and we were focused on building BI apps and gaining insights into our data. The speaker was describing how his company was struggling under an ever-increasing array of Excel spreadsheets being used to consolidate accounts from 18 trading entities, and how deploying Qlik Sense had removed the tedium and provided speedier, more accurate numbers.

It reminded me of the extent to which, in my own career, I’ve been caught up in Excel tasks and prompted me to think of “good” and “bad” times with the tool.

“Bad” times were those when the task was to repeat something done previously, whether it be monthly accounts, revenue run rates, monthly partner outpayments or various reconciliations. Different data inputs, essentially the same outputs, but oftentimes requiring re-working due to input errors, broken links, incorrect formulas etc. My excuse for not putting more effort into automation was that by looking at the data as I was collecting it and inserting it that I would spot anomalies and therefore find issues in the business that were impacting on profit.

“Good” times with Excel involved building models to explore everything from pricing decisions to budgets, from marginal cost calculations to sensitivity analysis and understanding key business drivers. All involved trying to make data-driven decisions, while at the same time understanding the key factors that influence business outcomes.

So how best to determine whether our time away from our wives or partners, spent with Excel, is good or bad?

  1. Are you rehashing the same spreadsheet, just updating inputs?
  2. Are there a few little things that only you are aware of that need to be altered every month?
  3. Is it prone to error?
  4. Are you copying data from multiple sources?
  5. Do you seldom actually spot issues as you complete the task?

 

If you answered Yes four times or more, think seriously about ways in which you, and others around you, can save time by automating your reporting by using BI tools such as Qlik.

What you do with the time you save is up to you…………

 

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