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The No-Excel policy — the basics

Time to stop using excel

Marshall McLuhan, the Canadian philosopher, once said, “We become what we behold. We shape our tools, and then our tools shape us.” . Adopting no-excel policy will help you change the game.

What is the no-Excel policy?

Many people think this policy means no one should use Microsoft Excel in general, but the policy is actually much more specific. The no-Excel policy aims to stop team members’ urge to use Excel to process data. After you’ve adopted a state-of-the-art data-reporting system, the data analyst and the team lead should make sure that no team member continues to waste time preparing pivot tables and working with raw data in Excel.

 

No Excel?

Yes, it’s very simple: You don’t need it anymore. You have an amazing reporting system that you paid much more for than for Excel, so why not use it? If the reports don’t meet your team’s needs, call your analyst; show them what your team is doing with the data and how the team wants the end results to look. If the analyst can’t reproduce these results, try to achieve the same goal with workarounds — or replace the system, because it’s not fulfilling your team’s needs.

 

Why no Excel?

Excel is an amazing tool. You can paste in thousands of rows of data, or sometimes millions of them, and start analyzing it with PowerPivot. The more data that needs to be processed, however, the more mistakes can be made. This is why, if you’ve already invested in a state-of-the-art reporting system, it’s counterproductive to use Excel as well.

 

How to adopt a no-Excel policy?

If team members are still using Excel, here are three steps to take:

  • Interview team members: What do they currently do with the data? What reports do they build using Excel?
  • Focus on actions: They’re downloading the data, processing it in some way, and taking some actions based on it. What are these actions? What is the end goal of the work they do with the data? Adjust the reporting system to reflect those actions.
  • If the above two steps don’t bring about a solution, then use the master tool — Block downloading of raw data: his will force team members to explain to the analyst what they’re doing with the data and why they need it.

 

Who is the audience?

The main idea of the no-Excel policy is to save time on preparing data and focus on actionable decision making. It should come as a management decision backed by the analytics team, in that they’ll make sure that any team member who has a sensible need for a specific type of report will get it.

 

Takeaway: Don’t pay for a state-of-the-art reporting system and keep on using Excel; find ways to dissuade team members from using it.

Time to stop using excel
Time to stop using excel @Fotolia

Lior Barak

http://www.taleaboutdata.com

Lior Barak has been working with marketing data for over ten years, overseeing transformations of teams from using manual and nonefficient tools into a state of the art marketing automated reporting systems.

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