The Pros and Cons of Who Makes Your Spreadsheets
I recently conducted a poll on LinkedIn, to see who people would ask to make a spreadsheet if they needed one for their business. The results were not surprising, but a little concerning. Now, obviously I would say that you should use a professional, but that’s just because I want you to let me make them. There are some serious cons to using other people to make them, but there can be some benefits. Here are the pros and cons for each option.
Ask a Friend or Family Member
If the person is good enough to do what you want, then this could save you some money. There are a few criteria there, so look at the cons for some potential issues that may arise. If it all goes well, then this could save you some money. This could also be a good opportunity to give a friend or family member the chance to develop their skills.
I’ve been sent a few spreadsheets made by friends and family, in order for me to remake them. Often people think they are better at Excel than they actually are, and volunteer to make the spreadsheet. The business owner is then presented with the spreadsheet, knows it is not right ,but is forced to use it anyway in fear of ruining the relationship. They also find it hard to ask for updates or corrections as they know the person volunteered to make it, often free of charge. I’ve seen a few people live to regret getting a friend or family member to make their spreadsheet. They then end up paying me to do it anyway, but still sit with the bad feeling created with the person who made it. Before asking a friend or family member to make your spreadsheets, I’d consider these potential issues.
Look Online for a Template
If you can find the right online template, it will almost certainly be cheaper than something custom made. You can save some money, but you can possibly also see how it works and try it before you buy it. People often know they need a solution, but they don’t know what they need. A custom solution will require you to know what you want, and some would rather just be told what to do. If this is the solution you would prefer, then I have various ranges of ready-made spreadsheets for you to choose from.
Let’s be honest, the chances of you finding the exact spreadsheet you need is probably quite slim. If the price difference between these and the custom options is unaffordable, then this may be your only option. You may find that it is not too bad, and that you’d prefer something unique. As these ready-made spreadsheets are made with various people in mind, they are often ‘generic’, rather than tailor-made for your business. The other con of looking for templates online, is that some can be rubbish. I mean really rubbish. One of the reasons I started the Basic Range, was to combat the cheap spreadsheet templates sold online. I have had various people come to me after using those cheap online spreadsheets. The damage I have seen done from those spreadsheets is quite scary, and they were not unforeseen issues, there were blatant errors in the spreadsheets. If you’re going to buy a spreadsheet online, please buy from someone reputable.
You or Your Staff Will Make It
The way people see it is that they have to pay their staff, or they have time to spend, so they make the spreadsheets themselves. There is usually one person in the office who ‘knows some Excel’ so they get the task of making a spreadsheet. It doesn’t seem to cost anything, as that person would have been paid anyway. They know the industry and how the company works, so they are the ideal person to make the spreadsheet. In theory this works, but there are some things to consider that I will mention in the cons.
How busy are you and your staff? If there is a staff member doing nothing for 3 weeks, and they can build a spreadsheet, then get them to do it. Absolutely. If they’re busy, it is not a good solution. The first con could be the cost. Here’s what you do. Find out how long it will take them to make the spreadsheet, and then work out what that is actually costing you in salary payments. Assuming that they actually complete the spreadsheet properly in that time, that would then be the cost of that spreadsheet. Not only that, but ask how much they could have done for the business if they weren’t making that spreadsheet. Don’t get your ace salesperson to make a spreadsheet over the busiest time of the year. You’d lose out on more than you spend. Once you’ve established how much this will actually cost you, and how good you can expect the spreadsheet to be, get a comparison. Get a no-obligation quote from me, and see what I plan to make. If it’s better value for money to go with you or your staff, then do so. I suspect it won’t be.
Hire a Pro
Let’s start with the cons first this time. Yes, you would need to explain what you need, and that may take a meeting or two. Yes, the professional may not be in your industry, so they may not be as experienced as you in that field. Yes, this will also cost you money, but it may not cost as much as the above options in the long run. I think the main fears here would be the cost, and wondering whether or not the professional will understand what you need. Have the initial chat. I don’t charge for anything until I have told you what I will make, given you a price to do so, and you’ve accepted it. I usually even quote for a job, and not per hour, so you know exactly what it will cost before going ahead.
Assuming the pro as actually as good as he or she claims to be, there can be a number of pros. Firstly, you will probably get a spreadsheet that is better and more efficient that you or your staff could have made (unless you’re a pro, too). Secondly, you are not wasting in-house business time, which can be spent on people doing what they are good at, and what is most beneficial to the business. Some of the cons listed above may actually be pros. For example, the pro may not be in your industry. I have had countless situations where I have offered advice, and it has been gladly accepted by people with more experience in their industry. This isn’t (just) because of my super intelligence (if I have that), this is because I am looking at the issue with a fresh pair of eyes. I also know how Excel works, so often the ‘better’ way to approach a solution is not just better for Excel, but better for the company. I would venture a guess that most of the spreadsheets I’ve made were not what the business owner expected when they called me. I always add some ideas and thoughts and then, between the two of us, we pick the best ones to make your ideal solution. You know your business, I know spreadsheets; together we can make a formidable pair.
So, there you have it. Pros and cons for all of the solutions presented in the poll. Who would you ask to make a spreadsheet for you if you needed one? Has this post changed your mind? If you would like to discuss anything, please get in touch using the button below.