Data Management

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    Is it time to upgrade the way you do work? The productivity gains can be substantial.

Is it time to upgrade the way you do work? The productivity gains can be substantial.

You review your personal technology devices – cell phone, computer, tablet, laptop – every year or two. Your company (hopefully) reviews technology platforms and equipment every two to five years. So why are your internal processes the same ones that have been in place since… well…  do you even know when they were established? The gains to be had in productivity are no less substantial than the advances we’ve seen in technology. The changes that are put in place are usually reactive in nature and necessary to keep up with growth. At some point it’s going to be time to step back and evaluate how work is done from start to finish.
Let’s look at this from a different angle
We all want to see results faster, attain information that has already been compiled, be given enough data to make informed decisions, and believe in leprechauns. The first three might actually be possible, but first you’re going to have to step back and look at how business is being done. You’ve been keeping up with the growth and hiring people to help maintain the increased data flow, but you never really feel like you have the entire picture in front of you. Instead of focusing on the specific tasks being done every day, let’s step back and look at daily operations from a data flow standpoint.
Data flow and how it relates to productivity
Chances are, when you established the way business is done you were probably not operating with all of the data input and management systems you are today. Rather than review the processes and activities based on the new information, you have probably taken one of two courses of action. You either slightly altered the […]

Is Excel causing more problems than it’s solving?

Excel does exactly what you tell it to do.  It’s just that sometimes there seems to be a language barrier…
Don’t get me wrong.  I’m a fan of Excel.  The capabilities in terms of automation are extensive, and the ease of use is great.  However…  there’s also the fact that many users of the application don’t have a firm grasp of how formulas can backfire if you cut and paste data or move columns around.  As we discussed in The High Cost of Low Productivity, these types of errors could be costing you more than you realize.

In her article “Damn you, Excel spreadsheets, JP Morgan Chase edition”, Heather Timmons points out a real-world example of a problem you could be experiencing in your own organization and not even know it:
“Due to an error in an Excel spreadsheet used to model risk, JP Morgan seriously underestimated the downside of its synthetic credit portfolio, which ultimately led to the bank to declare $6 billion in losses and could lead to another $600 million in fines. As James Kwak explains on Baseline Scenario, the errors stemmed from a combination of copy-paste mistakes and a faulty equation created to crunch the numbers.”
So do I stop using Excel?
The short answer is “No”.   If you’re utilizing Excel for large amounts of information and formulas, and manually copying data into the spreadsheets, you basically have 3 options to guarantee you aren’t creating more problems than you’re solving.
1.Validate, Test, Validate, Test, etc…
The first option is to manually go through and validate all of the formulas.  Copy and paste will distribute the formula to all rows, but now you’re involving people in the process and that introduces risk.  If you’re dealing with small amounts of data and […]