"... So that’s one sense in which Excel could be dangerous: that we’ve tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands, of financiers and bankers throwing trillions of dollars around the markets on the basis of their incomplete spreadsheets and their ignorance of how they’re doing it wrong. Pretty scary really". This was reported in Forbes.com here.
Yes, Microsoft Excel is indeed a very dangerous software - if not used probably. In the hand of untrained Excel users, it will lead to costly errors that will lead to errors in decision. Some of the common errors include using the wrong formula, did not update the spreadsheets, did not add up a column or row etc etc. It may sound like silly mistakes but these are indeed common and costly errors.
Even if it does not lead to error in decision making, untrained Excel users wasted hours in spreadsheet design. They treat Excel as a manual books with columns using rudimentary formulas, have multiple sheets and cross linked all these sheets, treat dates are words instead of numbers etc etc. These actions can go on for years without realizing it. To make it worse, the company employs more staffs to update the spreadsheets - which could have been fully automated in the first place.
Are you or your staffs using Excel? If yes, you need to be aware of how dangerous Excel is. Here are some of the symptoms that you or your staffs are using Excel dangerously:
1. Spending too much time on spreadsheets (e.g. copy / paste, repetitive formulas etc)
2. Have to enter the same data more than once (usually in multiple sheets or files)
3. Using calculator to double check the spreadsheets (really, it happens)
4. Did not use pivot table (using pivot table is efficient as it does not involve formula)
What is the best way to avoid this dangerous software? The best is to avoid using Excel, if possible. If your requirements are complex, it is best to invest in a rigorously tested customised software or suitable ERP system (which links your point of sale, inventory, accounting, reports etc).
If you must use Excel (which is understandable), then make sure that you or your staffs are adequately trained. In other words, do not just let anymore in your company (especially fresh graduates whom you do not know what to do with them) to design spreadsheets. Train your staffs or get professional help.
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