From the Not Just Numbers blog:
I’d really like to know what everyone thinks about this question – because I am not sure myself.
I have always fiddled with Excel until I got it to do what I wanted. For me, personally, it has worked out very well as I turned the skills I developed as a result into a successful business! But was it good for my employers at the time?
Granted, they got some good spreadsheet solutions in the end, but would it have been more effective to bring someone in who already knew how to do it, rather than use my time to get there by trial and error!
I’m sure I’m not alone as someone who likes to make sure they find a way, but it can be all too easy to spend far more time than could be justified in financial terms. Once the problem has been solved, the skills are there for next time, but is it the most efficient approach?
There are a few alternatives to fiddling with it until you get there using Google and Excel’s help facility, they all have a financial cost but can considerably reduce the time spent:
- Excel training – this can obviously be useful but is often too generic to then apply to your real problems when you get back to the office. I have found a one-to-one approach is often more effective, working with the client’s own spreadsheets and problems. Another approach is to have training tailored to your business or industry (the service I offer to Accountants in Practice at Excellent Accountancy works along these lines)
- Subscribe to a service where you have someone to ask – my Excel Advice by Email subscribers get this kind of service by email for just £75 per year
- Get someone else to do it – I have my own service for this at needaspreadsheet.com
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