Why you should ditch spreadsheets - an alternative explanation by Hal and Dave

An imagined conversation between Dave and Hal...

“Hi, Dave speaking”.

“Dave, it’s Hal. Look, I’m just trying to plan the company’s way out of lockdown but I’m having real trouble with my marketing projections spreadsheet. It’s just going crazy, it’s not working properly. It keeps saying I’m trying to divide by zero and half my references are invalid! All over the place. What does it mean, divide by zero? Why would I be doing that? Stupid thing!”

“Hal, it’s your formulae I expect. You’re probably not allowing for the insane numbers we’ve got at the moment.”

“Well, can I email it over to you? Maybe you can see what’s wrong?”

“Look Hal, you know what’ll happen. You’ll send it to me but then you’ll carry on fiddling with it while I’m looking at my copy, so then we’ll end up with two different spreadsheets that’ll be a pig to recombine into a working one.”

“Honestly Dave, I won’t.”

“You will.”

“You can trust me Dave, everything will be alright”, said Hal softly.

“No! You will, you know you will because you always do. You spend more time messing about with that spreadsheet than doing any actual work. Dividing by zero gives infinity, and that’s almost the amount of time and money you’ve wasted on the damn thing! You’re supposed to be Marketing Manager, not IT Developer. If you were doing your proper job, we might have a bit more business on the books to help us get out of this crisis.”

“So that’s a No then?”

“Yes!”

“Oh.”

“Hal, it’s high time we replaced your spreadsheet with a custom-written solution that works properly, that we can all access and share on the web. And the guys out on the road could have a decent mobile app they can use to access it without having to scribble notes and wait until they get back to the office to put in sales leads. Then you can concentrate on doing what you do best, so we can keep all the guys on the shopfloor busy and productive.”

“So who do we go to then?”

“Well, Switchplane’s the biggest firm in the area that does custom solutions. All their guys are directly employed and they stick to well thought out project planning. They know their stuff.”

“Dave, we should talk to them.”

“Thank you, Hal”.

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