Madeleina Maëly June 6, 2021 Spreadsheet
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.
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.
Structured Query Language, often referred to as SQL, is a grammar of instructions that allows us to tell a relational database to add, modify or delete data. The key benefit, pardon the pun, of SQL is that it allows us to craft instructions relating large sets of data together. In this way SQL is the natural complement to the single cell and formula based interface of spreadsheets like Microsoft Excel. Imagine you had five hundred appointments from your business calendar laid out in a table. Each appointment might have a day, time, location and description. Now imagine you also had five hundred appointments from your partners business calendar, also each having a day, time, location and description.
Here‘s a very simple budget set up. Keep a simple income spreadsheet. List all the sources by name in column A. List how much each brings in in column B. And then, any notes you have for the income (like if it is temporary) in column C. You don‘t need to get very detailed with the income, because it only needs to be accounted for so that we can budget for it‘s use. And, the incomes use is in our expenses spreadsheet. This spreadsheet will be much more complex than the income one. You‘ll need a field for income that you carry over from the income sheet. You‘ll also need a field for a total expenses budgeted for. A third field will give us the budget surplus. We get that by subtracting the budgeted amounts from the income amount. A final field will subtract the actual amount spent from the income, and will serve to tell us where we stand in our budget. If you like, you can add another field that subtracts the actual amount spent from the amount budgeted.
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.
You can go over your budget as often as you like. Some find it easier to enter amounts every day after they‘ve settled in for the day. Others will choose to go over it monthly. Going over it weekly is likely where most will settle though. Occasionally, we‘ll have a surplus or deficit at the end of the month. Perhaps you‘ve spent too much, or not spent all that you thought you would. Spending too much can be troublesome, but not spending as much as you thought can be a lot of fun. You may want to consider adding a budget field carryover in the income sheet and one called shortfall in the expenses sheet. If you spent too much, the amount that you overspent by becomes your budgeted amount for shortfall in your expenses sheet the next month. Didn‘t spend enough, and you put that amount in the carryover field in the income sheet. This will help you keep track of all your money as well as account for any shortfalls.