Spreadsheets

Everybody is constantly using spreadsheets in my industry. This is a fact of life - if your system is good enough not to be spreadsheet based, then the interesting work moves up and out of that. If your system isn't quite good enough, then you use spreadsheets to patch the flaws.

The thing to remember is that all but the most short-lived spreadsheets are going to have to do work of communication tools. Your report has to be read, your control has to be traceable back to source, your analysis has to be vetted.

Most people forget this.

So try to look at your sheets as if they have specific jobs to do. Make them sensible, but make it so if you took a guess at how it works you're right.

Guidelines like this should be your MO, not exceptions:

  • Repeat and Link, rather than linking off-page
  • Show your units of measurement
  • Use a cover sheet
  • Use titles and headings
  • Build up formulas from cells
  • Mark out assumptions

Build your habits.