Isn’t it typical: we correct someone’s language and as we do so we make a mistake. I have done this so many times … egg on chin time!

This week I was happily presenting budgets and the setting thereof and as an aside, as I was showing the delegates a spreadsheet that I had prepared as part of my presentation, I said … spreadsheet best practice … blah, blah, blah! I said, for example, let me show you how best practice applies to this spreadsheet:

input section in which ALL variables are kept and updated
all formulas are audited and checked
all relationships are tested
and so on

Let me show you what I mean, I went on: I then changed an input cell value of 12,500 to 999,999 so that it would be obvious when we see the effect of the change. Guess what? I had NOT linked some input cells to their appropriate output cells and the change I made had no effect whatsoever. I was inwardly ashamed of myself for making such an amateur error.

Let this be a warning to us all … even when we think we are perfect, there is still something that needs to be done and checked.

For anyone new to spreadsheets and spreadsheet modelling, take a tip from me: start with PPP … paper, pencil, plan. Get it right from the beginning and check, check, check all the way through.

Duncan Williamson

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