Noella Irina May 31, 2021 Spreadsheet
As a set of general rules data is most useful when things like text fields hold only names as well as meaningful and validated codes, categories and classifications. Text notes and other free form text should be isolated to a dedicated notes field and thus separated from other numeric data. Numeric fields should hold only numeric values (numbers, dates, %‘s and in the correct quantum or magnitude with no text prefixes, suffixes, spaces, text elements or text notes present. You must also be careful that numeric data is not stored as text and it should be internally consistent in terms of the correct format so that it can be used in calculations or for comparison and queries. Finally, addresses should be separated out into multiple fields such as street address, town /suburb, state / province, postal code and country to allow for geographic analysis and mail outs if required. Fixing up a data set to meet these criteria is called data scrubbing, cleansing or massaging. This data cleansing process can be very time consuming even for an experienced Microsoft Excel user, database engineer, business analyst or computer programmer.
Most planners are good at multi-tasking and have no problems designing a simple spreadsheet to handle a basic budget or designing a form to handle registration. So, you spend your time designing and stressing out. You end up with a variety of forms that each handle a specific need like registration, exhibits, food expenses and budget. The forms are not connected and do not work together. Hence, you end up having to do additional work merging the information from the various forms into your budget. Why do this when there is a Budget Spreadsheet for Meetings on the market that will tie your history, individual forms and budget together? It is so easy that all you have to do is enter the information. The spreadsheet does the rest.
So why does data that inevitably finds its way into a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet often suffer from the problems outlined above. The reasons are many. If the data is imported, it may have been sourced from a combination of other spreadsheets, databases, systems, reports, word documents, emails or web pages. If the data has been entered manually it may have been poorly done so by an inexperienced computer users such as administrative or junior staff with a lack of understanding for data structures. Excel is easy to use and widely accessible, so an inexperienced colleague can quite easily update your spreadsheet with a false sense of confidence and inadvertently enter new data incorrectly. And finally, unlike a fully functional software system, data entry in Excel generally has no automatic validating rules, unless carefully setup by the spreadsheet‘s creator.
Here‘s where the expense sheet gets complex. All of your categories of spending go in column A. Get as detailed as you like, or keep it really simple and just put the basic categories. Generally, the more detail the better. it‘s also helpful to have categories for your categories. A Utilities category for your power, gas, water, etc, categories. Again, detail is good, but be wary of going into too much detail. Column B is where you‘ll put the amount that you‘re budgeting for that category. Column C, how much you‘ve spent on that category to date. If you like (or are a statistics junkie) you can add columns for % of budgeted amount, and % of total budget as well. For our simple budget, we‘ll just leave that out for now.
Lester P. Goodbinder had suffered another agonizing week in Pittsburgh. The semi-annual audit he conducted at the Bourgeois Ball Bearing Factory stretched into five 14-hour days examining electronic spreadsheets on an archaic computer system installed in the early ‘80s. The equipment churned so abysmally he cleverly joked to himself it was powered by lazy hamsters on treadmills. Not only that, the accounting software loaded on the system was an early version of ”Abacus,” and only slightly faster than a key-punch adding machine but considerably slower than a hand-held calculator.
At times, Lester became so furious his face radiated heat and fogged his glasses. When this happened, he yanked them from his puffy eyes and wiped the lenses with his tie. On this late Friday afternoon, however, Lester felt exhilarated. The printer regurgitated its last run of printouts and as he scanned the rows of figures he penciled in tick marks to indicate matches with numbers found in the corporate ledgers. The task complete for another 180 days, he removed his glasses, rubbed his aching eyeballs, and inhaled deeply to savor the fluttery feeling of excitement flooding his upper chest. Then, Lester logged off the computer, tapped the surge protector power switch with his toe, and shut down the wheezing system.