10 Reasons to buy a spreadsheet from me, rather than making it yourself



Many companies make their own spreadsheets, either the boss does so, or one of the employees has a go. There’s usually one ‘go to’ Excel person in the office. This means that businesses end up with sub-par spreadsheets, and waste staff’s valuable time, doing something that they are not there to do. This is why I make spreadsheets, so that people can get better spreadsheets without the hassle of having to make them. Here are 10 reasons why you should rather get me to make your spreadsheets, than to try and make them in-house.




Alright, let’s deal with this one first, because I can almost sense the concern around the price. If you want to know how much a professional spreadsheet will cost, just ask. In most cases, I provide an upfront price for the project, and a proposal of what the spreadsheet will do. This is better for both of us, as I know what you need, you know what I will provide and what it will cost. No surprises (except maybe some good ones). Here’s something to consider. How much time do you or your staff spend making spreadsheets? Be honest, add in all the time they spend searching for answers on Google. Multiply that time by their hourly salary rate, or what they could be making if they were doing their actual job. Now, what is that spreadsheet costing you? If you compare that price with what I charge, if mine isn’t cheaper, it will be very close. And, if I make it, you get the added advantages of the next 9 points.




How functional are your spreadsheets? Do they do what you want, and how you want it done? Many people who make spreadsheets don’t have the skills to do it exactly as it is needed, so they ‘make a plan’. For example, using clumsy pivot tables to understand one element or value. These pivot tables then become corrupt, and you end up with way too much info, and the wrong info at that. One thing I do with my clients is understand what they want to achieve, so that I can make the spreadsheet as efficient as possible, while covering all their needs and wants. Managing processes and understanding the order of business is one of my strengths, I worked in project management for years, so I am happy to put some input into this element of the spreadsheet. Many people inherit spreadsheets, so they are not even structured correctly for their processes. If yours are not correct for you, then let’s fix that.




I get sent many spreadsheets where people are monitoring processes, like an onboarding process, life of a project, a customer journey, etc. They are so interested in tracking each client, that they forget to analyse all the data that is collected. One thing I do when making spreadsheets is to ask what can be calculated with the data that is available. Often, I suggest some useful reporting that the client didn’t even think of. If there is anything that you would like to know that your spreadsheet isn’t telling you, that could be calculated from the available data, then you’re missing out. I often create a report tab on a spreadsheet, that is 100% automated, and populates from the entered data. So, as you do your work, the spreadsheet is analysing it and reporting on it. I also usually create a dashboard, which pulls key info from that report, and puts it on one screen. This is key when you want to see an overview of everything in a few seconds. If your spreadsheets don’t do this, we need to chat.




This is one of the issues with using ‘hand-me-down’ spreadsheets or ones that you have inherited from elsewhere. They don’t follow your process, and they don’t take the rest of the process (either side of using the spreadsheet) into consideration. Do you enter the data manually, or is it exported from elsewhere? These two data sets are approached VERY differently. What order does the data capture need to be? If you or your staff have to leave out data, and then come back to it later, it gets messy, and data is often forgotten. I ask these questions so that I can make the spreadsheet flow nicely with your process. Have the data in the order that it needs to be filled in, have the spreadsheet produce what is needed in the correct order for what comes next. As most who build spreadsheets are so concerned about the formulas and calculations, they give little time or concentration to the layout of the spreadsheet. Many clients comment on how much easier it is to use a spreadsheet that fits with their process, although it never crossed their mind when using their old spreadsheet that didn’t do so.


Ease of Use


Some spreadsheets are really difficult to use. Data entry cells mixed up with formulated cells, so people either over-write formulas or struggle to know what data is required. I often see spreadsheet that require double data entry or are overly complicated and need manual entry for data that could be formulated. For example, the status of a job. I see people use drop down lists to state where each job is in the process, where they have the data for each stage, so it could calculate where each job is. This means that most jobs are not correct, as they have not been updated. Almost every spreadsheet I get sent, is harder to use than the one I send back, and the one I send back usually does loads more. Unfortunately, most people are using their Excel skills to the max just do make the spreadsheet do the basics, so they can’t take the user into consideration. Part of what I do is to think about the person using the spreadsheet, and to make their lives as easy as possible. This means fewer errors, better data, more accurate reporting, and more efficient spreadsheets and staff.


Data Checking


Here’s one that I see so seldomly in spreadsheets I am sent, that it actually concerns me. Does your spreadsheet check what data is entered, and that everything that needs to be entered is there? There are a few reasons why this is important, but the main one is for reporting. I see so many free to edit cells where people can type what they want, and then someone else tries to analyse it later. Why not give them 10 selectable options (with added notes if need be)? Those pre-determined options are SO much more useful and easier to analyse than random text. It also means that the spreadsheet could flag up if anything is entered other than the options available. The other issue I see is values. If the spreadsheet asks for a project value for example, and someone enters TBC, that means that the text is not included in formulas. A worse case is when people enter the £ sign for example, Excel thinks its text, but you see a value. You think it is using that calculation, but Excel doesn’t recognise it as a value, so it won’t use it. That could be catastrophic. A simple formula to check if it is a value, and to flag up red if not, could have solved that problem. The other thing is missing data. When people don’t complete all required fields, so the calculations are incorrect, and the reports can not be trusted. Do your spreadsheets tell you when data is missing or obviously incorrect? This is a standard function I now include in all bespoke spreadsheets.




One of the reasons people often come to me for new spreadsheets, is because they have reached the ceiling of their current spreadsheet and they can no longer adapt it to their current needs. Yes, there are times when you outgrow spreadsheets, but that is usually not when you think. I often take growth into consideration and make spreadsheets in a way that they can be adapted, expanded, changed, or upgraded at a later date. Yes, sometimes it is not possible, but I make them in such a way that I give you the best chance in the future. Many spreadsheets I get sent have been built into a corner, with no scope for expansion without a complete rebuild. You may thing that keeping the spreadsheet building in house will allow you to continually update spreadsheets, however this is a massive risk for errors (constantly changing formulas and fiddling with the works), and inexperienced users still end up working themselves into a corner.




The number of people using unlocked spreadsheets out there is scary. This is usually the number one reason for spreadsheets being blamed for all sorts of things. Formulated cells should be locked. Workbooks (the layout of the spreadsheet with regards to tabs, etc) should be locked unless you need to hide tabs. Data entry cells should be separated from formulated cells, so it is clear what needs to be entered and what doesn’t. Calculation data should be hidden unless it is required to be seen, and the spreadsheet should be neat and tidy. 99% of spreadsheets I get sent as examples, do not follow any of these rules. Are spreadsheets 100% secure? No. Can they be broken into? Yes. However, you can stop accidental errors and damages being done. You can stop people casually changing things. It’s like with your home security. You likely won’t stop a determined, experienced, criminal, but you can stop someone casually walking in the front door. All the spreadsheets I send out are as secure as possible. I also encourage people to keep a blank version of the spreadsheet, so if it is ruined or damaged, a simple transfer of data (copy from the damaged version, paste using paste values into the new template) will fix all the issues.




The number one reason that I make way more custom spreadsheets that selling ready-made templates. People want something customised to their needs, they want it to follow their process and be tailored for their business. Many thing that they need to make spreadsheets in-house for this reason, but that is not the case. I usually have one or two meetings with a potential client (sometimes more for massively complicated jobs) before I am able to make their spreadsheets. I ask about your process, how the spreadsheet fits into it and what order the spreadsheet should follow. I ask about how you’ve done things in the past (hence me seeing old spreadsheets) and how you wish to tackle things moving forward. Having a fresh set of eyes on your process also doesn’t hurt. Yes, I have some ‘standard’ functionality that I build into all spreadsheets, but each one I make revolves around the client and their requirements. I do not simply use an existing spreadsheet and tweak it for you.




This is one element that many people overlook. I have years of experience in project management, sales, and business. I have also been making spreadsheets professionally since 2013. I bring a wealth of experience to the table, that you would not get making a spreadsheet inhouse. As a South African, I’m not known for keeping my opinion to myself, so I will certainly make suggestions (but the final decision is up to you). As I have made hundreds of spreadsheets for many different industries, I can offer advice and suggestions that you simply won’t think of. This alone is worth the money, in fact, I’ve had people request a meeting simply to ask my opinion on how they should make their spreadsheets (when they need to be done inhouse). I see so many spreadsheets that are massively letting businesses down, not because they are really bad, but simply because the creator was lacking some experience or skills. This can often be the difference between an average spreadsheet and a really good one.




There you have it, 10 reasons why you should let me make your spreadsheets rather than making them yourself or getting staff to make them. If you have spreadsheets that you don’t believe live up to what I am saying is possible, then we really need to have a chat. Please get in touch and let’s discuss what you need. If you want to see some of the types of tabs I often do, and the features they have, you can see more about that here.

I look forward to making your spreadsheets,