Microsoft Excel: the lifeblood of 21st century finance and business. A phenomenal spreadsheet tool used by the lowest level analysts through the most executive tier of management. A wonderful program capable of performing complex mathematics, charting graphs and calculating thousands of data points (sometimes) in the click of a button (when it's not crashing).
Most of us probably use excel every single day. Most of us probably develop models and various presentations the likes which will be utilized by various other parties and whose output will often be used in key decision making; which leads me to wonder **why so often spreadsheets are poorly formatted, messily organized, or follow zero convention for usability? **
I find too often that people do not take pride in their work, and do not produce workbooks that are easy to read, easy to edit, and easy to understand. Too often in my line of work (CF) I find that people (internal and external [eg. consultants/contractors]) do the bare minimum to produce the output they need and never think twice about the little things (color coding inputs/links/drivers/calculations, building in dynamic formulas, etc.). This might be different in banking where classes of analysts are (presumably) trained under the same general guidelines and where banks have set "formulas" for spread-sheeting.
However, what I can't determine is whether or not poor excel etiquette is a product of poor training/inexperience or sheer laziness. I find it terribly frustrating to be handed a spreadsheet that is a mess and that requires painstaking manual review to follow logic/presentation...
When I produce a spreadsheet, regardless of its end use, one of my top priorities is how easy is it to understand this presentation and how easy is it to update/edit, but maybe I'm just obsessive. So please, WSO, share your thoughts: How often do you encounter terrible spreadsheets? How important is the functionality of a spreadsheet to you? Do you follow color-coding, use dynamic formulas, build macros, consistent naming convention, etc in your spreadsheets?
Share an excel horror story below:
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