Don’t let your mistakes become the next London Whale
In the past year, manual processes within Excel Workbooks have been blamed for the infamous London Whale debacle and flawed research conclusions by Harvard Economists. Some have even said that Bill Gates should be blamed for these errors that have impacted so many. In response, no doubt, Mr. Gates would argue that Microsoft has developed ample ways for Excel users to protect themselves from the inevitable introduction of human error.
Preserve data dependency
The garbage-in-garbage-out adage applies to Excel workbooks just like it applies to databases, accounting systems and other computer software. From data validation to proper layout and formatting, there are many techniques that can limit error in the three fundamental components of most Excel files: Inputs, Processes and Outputs. If your inputs are incorrect or placed in the wrong cells, the outputs will be incorrect and may lead you to arrive at bad conclusions and decisions. Errors can be introduced into worksheet processes, such as calculations, lookups and cell referencing when users make inadvertent changes. If the simple addition or deletion of a row or column could break a formula, then cells should be locked and protected. Likewise, the Tables and Charts that form the output should be protected from unintended changes.
Making use of Excel’s automation features
Arguably one of the greatest sources of error in Excel files is the result of a tedious method that can almost always be automated. Cutting data from one file and pasting it into an Excel worksheet can lead to big headaches at minimum and a high probability of input errors and flawed outputs. If cutting and pasting is part of a regular process of importance to your company, then get help with automation sooner rather than later. The savings in time and frustration will more than cover the cost of input automation.