Show us your spreadsheets

I went along to a ‘pub standards’ meet-up last night. Actually it was a ‘sub standards’, the mini one which happens in between the monthly pub standards meet-ups. On I spotted that muz was attending this, so decided to gate-crash at short notice.

The pub was hopelessly crowded, so didn’t mingle with everyone, just chatted to muz, and one other guy. ‘Chris ???’ from Yahoo. Some very interesting conversations, so I’ll be tempted to go along again I think.

Muz made an interesting point. “Show us your spreadsheets” is a good thing to say, to kick off an investigation into how an organisation’s data is flowing in ways which could potentially be more efficient (i.e. when seeking potential IT development projects)

MS Excell spreadsheets are so pervasive in many organisations. Often spreadsheets are where the information is input, stored, processed, and output/reported, so perhaps they should be the first place to look when figuring out what a new application could do for them. What’s more, spreadsheets are extensively misused and over-used in situations where terrible cock-ups can ocur by people failing to, for example, email a spreadsheet to a certain person, save a spreadsheet with a certain filename, in accordance with various interwoven human-enforced processes.

On the flip-side, it has to be said that MS Excell is pervasive for a reason. It’s extremely intuative to learn and use, and incredibly versatile as information management tool for taking on almost any task. Can’t remember which friend once said to me “Excell is the only software that microsoft really got right”. It’s easy to see why people who work at a desk with PC and do nothing but stir information around, would choose to learn MS Excell, and stick with it for every task. If these people would learn to program, or learn how data driven web applications are architected, they would no doubt see the world differently …but that’s our job.

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