Jacqualine Océane May 2, 2021 Spreadsheet
About four months after my husband asked for a divorce I made an appointment to meet a divorce attorney recommended by my therapist. She was 60 years old, short, smart and focused. I thought she was great. She charged $350.00 per hour. It was good that she was focused. I was at the time furious at my husband for his recent behaviors and I told her that I wanted to file for divorce immediately. Could she explain the process to me?
Whilst Excel cannot clean or structure all of your data for you it does come with some useful functionality for manipulating and analysing clean and structured data sets. This in-built functionality includes pivot tables, sorting and filtering. Filtering alone is a powerful tool and can help to quickly isolate data based on specified criteria. But what happens if your data is clean but not very structured (a common problem). For instance what if you, a client or your team is using colours, fonts or some kind of formatting to classify data in an Excel spreadsheet. In short, you wont be able to filter the data, because Excel‘s in-built filtering logic requires rules based on numbers, dates and text only. It will not perform filtering based on formats. In addition Excel filtering only applies down rows. It will not perform filtering across columns.
I don‘t think so. My husband and I weren‘t a great married couple but we were excellent business partners. We almost never, actually maybe NEVER, fought about money. We agreed on how to raise our kids and were always honest about our finances. He made a lot of money and I had some money of my own from my grandmother and would inherit when my parents died. I knew that we would be able to sort through these things better on our own. Most significantly, he LOVED to make spreadsheets and certainly would not be willing to pay someone else make one for him. I did some research on the internet to see what our options would be. I knew we couldn‘t do it ourselves but that we would need some assistance because our finances were complicated. I learned about divorce mediators, professionals who work with couples at an hourly fee to help them navigate the process. It sounded like it would work for us so we agreed to find one. And we did. Well, I did.
Microsoft Excel is a phenomenally powerful calculator. You can create spreadsheets with 10,000 lines of data and calculate subtotals instantly. Indeed, if you change your data, any totals will get automatically updated. Arguably that‘s not too impressive. If we have quarterly revenues of $1m, and we secure another $20k, we can update our subtotal without summing revenues from scratch. So it‘s more impressive that Excel can do the same thing with statistical functions. If you‘ve ever plotted a chart on Excel, you may be aware that you can add a best fit line. These best fit lines are calculated using a method known as regression. Basically, you have to calculate the distance of every single point from the line, and minimise the sum. The maths is a little more sophisticated but the key point is that, every time you change the data, you need to perform the analysis all over again.
Oh my goodness, it‘s not surprising that so many couples who want to get divorced just stay separated for years. The process is daunting, expensive and, frankly, ridiculous. Basically I had to stop communicating with my husband immediately. Going forward all communication would be between my lawyer and his lawyer. We would turn in all of our financial documents and her paralegals would put them into spreadsheet form and then we would go about dividing everything up. We would have to come up with a parenting plan, my husband and I, with these two lawyers translating for us. We would have to get employment contracts from his employers so I knew that I was getting a fair share of all of his assets. It was going to be long and drawn out and messy. And the cost, somewhere between $15,000-$100,000, minimum.
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.
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