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Old 09-15-2016, 10:10 PM
Gerrinson Gerrinson is offline
Accounts Payable/IT Helpdesk
Join Date: Oct 2007
Posts: 1,085

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Spreadsheets, Bungled Style:

In my experience with IT & Finance, I've learned that automation is good. The fewer times you touch a piece of data, the fewer times you hand key information, the better. Cranky was strongly opposed to spreadsheet automation. Probably because coding complex formulae and macros was beyond her skill set. Don't understand = bad!

Several of us inherited spreadsheets from her as tasks were shuffled around and we all learned several things:
  1. Cranky absolutely hated teaching anyone how to read her work. "If you look at it, it's pretty easy to see how it works" was a favorite phrase she used with me. Also it was never true.
  2. Hand keyed information was EVERYWHERE. You need the same piece of information on 7 different tabs? Hard key it on every one!
  3. Basically all of her formulae broke down to adding and subtracting. Multiplication & division had to be in seperate cells for each one, then add/subtract the results. It was painful to try to follow the logic trail.
  4. One several of the important and hard to follow sheets, I found that some cells were added & subtracted from the same formula multiple times. It makes no sense to add A7, then subtract A7 later, than add A7 in again later on.
  5. And all of those assume the spreadsheet actually generated the correct answer in the first place. Half the time she would print them out to paper, then run tallies on an adding machine and attach the tape 'correction' to the printed copy of the spreadsheet. Because that makes sense.

I questioned many of those decisions and there was always some reason is just 'has to be this way to work'. There were several hubbubs generated when I made changes to logically streamline things and she went snooping later and wasn't able to understand what I had done. It generally went like this (written from my perspective, but other people had the same basic conversations with her):

CB: Gerrinson, I was reviewing the <task that is no longer hers> and the spreadsheet doesn't make sense.

Me: I linked everything to the tab named Data Entry - the data is entered there and feeds through. The Summary tab shows the final output. The rest of the tabs are labeled for <specific calculations or supporting documents>.

CB: The way I did it was <old way> and these formulas just don't make sense. I think you missed something here.

Me: NABL already reviewed and checked it off. The output report matched your final numbers when I fed in the data from <prior month> so it works fine.

CB: There was no tape for corrections, so did you double check it?

Me: I adjusted the entries to process the data so there are no corrections needed. It's all basically automated now, just paste in the data and there you go.

CB: Well, I'm going to work through it, this doesn't seem right.

3 - 4 hours later, CB would come up with a handwritten and incorrect result that she would take to NABL as proof someone made a mistake. And then NABL would review it and find CB's mistake. Good times, good times.

Small funny, well, to the rest of us:

We had to take mandatory Excel training - the whole company. My dept. was signed up for the most advanced class, since we are power users. When we got into the class, there was no one else but Finance staff. Then we read through the agenda and crossed out the skills we used on a daily/weekly basis. That left 2 new features of Excel 2010 for us to learn out of 28 planned. Needless to say, the training session was short and sweet.

During that time, CB had to stop several times to stretch her back. I've got no actual issue with this - back pain sucks. When the class was finished, 2 1/2 hours early, we were all on our way out when the trainer stopped CB.

Trainer: I just wanted to say congratulations! When are you due?


The rest of us:

The poor trainer followed her down the hallway apologizing, but CB was livid. The rest of us were highly amused. Another reminder to never assume a woman is pregnant unless the kid is born right in front of you.

See, I included a story where CB wasn't the sucky one!