Understanding the numbers in a spreadsheet

by Jan 26, 2021News, Technical

How many of us have sat in a meeting when vast arrays of numbers are put up in a gripping stream of PowerPoint presentations either analysing the past or foretelling the future? I’d suggest that this is a scene that plays out very often up and down the land, currently on Zoom but back in the distant past, in meeting rooms where everyone is nodding sagely and swigging coffee to stay awake.

The trouble with such meetings is this: we’ve all got a view on the accuracy of the data we’re being shown and a degree of confidence or scepticism towards the logic applied in the creation of the numbers. Few people question the numbers because they know that to do so would be a waste of time for two principle reasons.

Firstly, the data was most likely derived from data manipulated in Excel, and therefore is hard to understand let alone audit – the complex mixture of links, formulae expressing logic, interim and calculated data means that deconstruction takes time and expertise. Moreover, it is hard to establish whether the input data is correct in terms of time of export and the accuracy of the import process. At best, to get to the source is a headache. At worst it simply cannot be seen as anything much more than an educated guess.

Secondly, there won’t be an answer provided during the meeting, for all the reasons outlined above. Nonetheless, occasionally someone – often the CEO but sometimes the Sales Director – is forced to call out a figure that just doesn’t look right. What happens next could go either way as well. In a good circumstance, the “owner of the numbers” will go a deep shade of red or look deeply unwell, depending on the complexity of the number being questioned and will assure the inquisitor that a full explanation will be forthcoming within a few days.

He or she will then hope for two things:

a) that they can find the required justification for the numbers and/ or

b) that the inquisitor will forget having asked the question!

Data makes more sense with Azquo

This is business using the equivalent of the postal service on their mission-critical Financial Planning and Analytics when what they should be using is an Instant Messaging system’s speed.

Azquo can do all of this in a heartbeat – and that is the competitive advantage that our clients gain. Any number in any presentation is transparent. A right mouse click can show where the number came from, when it was updated, by whom and what the previous value was. If currencies have been involved, Azquo will show the exchange rates applied and so much more. Azquo has dragged the humble spreadsheet into the 21st Century and finally made it fit for purpose. More than this, it’s made it fit for so many purposes it’s hard to know where to start.