How a £500 Spreadsheet Saved a Salary

I was telling someone this story, and they suggested that I put this into a blog, so here it is.

I went in to see a client, in order to deliver their custom-made spreadsheet, and show then how to use it. After I had explained how it worked, the owner received an email, and showed me the spreadsheet attached. It was analysed data from a CSV export from some sales software from one of his staff. He explained the process to me.

A lady in the office downloads the CSV export and does some work on it. She sorts it, and then highlights items over a certain value, and checks some other columns of data based on various criteria. She gets it to the point where it is all filtered, sorted, colour coded and labelled. She then sends it to the owner. He compares that to some other data from another export and is eventually left with a few lines of relevant data. He then passes this onto the purchasers, so they now know what to buy.

I asked the owner how long this process took, and how often it was performed. I was told that the lady took about 3 to 4 hours, and his part took about an hour. This was repeated 3 times a week. He said that the problem was that they both had other work to do, so he was considering hiring someone to simply do this job. He even asked me if I knew someone who would be suitable. I then asked if he would still need someone else if he didn’t have to do this spreadsheet. His answer was no, but he needs the final data.

Now seeing as this was an existing client, and I knew him, I took a rather bold approach. I asked him to open his internet banking and pay me £500. He was a bit confused, but after a while and my assurance, he did. He opened his internet banking and paid me £500. I said that I would get back to him in the next few days and asked him not to hire anyone until he heard back from me.

3 days later, I sent him a 4 page spreadsheet.

Page 1 – Paste the data from the first CSV export.

Page 2 – See the processed report that the lady would have done immediately.

Page 3 – Paste the data from the second CSV file.

Page 4 – See the completed final data, ready to send to the salespeople in an instant.

No human intervention other than to copy and paste two batches of data. 4 hours a day, reduced to seconds. Not only that, but there is no human error, the spreadsheet knows what to do and does it in less than a second.

I then checked, and he did not need to hire anymore staff. An extra monthly salary avoided, by paying a single amount, which was probably less than one month’s salary. I asked him if he regrets paying the £500, to which he responded, “Best £500 I spent, ever”.

What spreadsheet could you have to save you time and money?