One Of The Best Models I've Ever Seen
It’s not often that I write directly about a customer’s Excel model. Yet, in this case I need to make an exception.
Because in this case study there are important learnings for all of us.
It was a delight to work on this project and help my client to be even better.
Recently a client of mine came to me with the task to review and audit their budget model in time for the next financial year.
They presented their model to me and explained the inputs and outputs and then handed the file over and asked for a detailed review.
I am still in awe about their sophistication and diligence in their model:
- There was a clear table of content
- They went to the length to have a sheet just declaring the different formats used in their model
- The input sheets had a different tab-colour to the output sheets
- A dedicated system of flags had been used to determine whether a value or calculation is used or not
- No VLookUp nor Index/Match functions in the whole model
- Clear header for columns and rows throughout
- Lots of white space to make the reading easy
- The best of all – a wide use of checksums and error flags
- They even had a specific sheet capturing all changes that anyone would make to their model
And with all the above already in place, they went the extra mile to engage yours truly to audit their excellent work.
It was a great pleasure to work through their model and test the different scenarios and follow the clear structure to make sure all links, references and calculations were accurate.
In spite off all this, eventually I still found 7 (just seven) errors, which would have an impact on the budget report. And the client was very happy with my findings and recommendations.
The take away of this story for you is…
- If you put in the time, discipline and diligence you can create a fantastic model with Excel using best practice
- For that you need to give yourself permission to walk slowly and build the foundation first
- Introduce as many check sums as possible in your models
- Have an independent pair of eyes audit your model. Because we all are humans and we all make mistakes
- You learn a lot about Excel by reviewing other people’s models
And it helps if the model is completely designed by only one or two people. As we all have a different handwriting, we all have a different style in modelling.
Maybe I can invite you to ask yourself these questions:
- How much would it cost your organisation and you personally if your budget model is flawed and you are making the wrong decisions based on inaccurate data?
(10K, 100K, 1M, your reputation…)
- How much of your annual cost would you be willing to invest to be 100% sure that your budget model is accurate, functional and free of any reference errors?
(1%, 0.1%, 0.01%,…)
Auditing your spreadsheets is a risk-insurance for your business!
In closing, I’d love to share their fantastic model with you – because this is one of the best models, I have ever seen in my 37 years of serving businesses.
Of course, I won’t disclose this kind of sensitive information – rest assured all my work is confidential.
Before the end of June I actually have time for one more auditing-project like this one…
”Excel is incredibly powerful. Powerful enough to ruin decision making or empower decision making. You helped change how Excel is used for us, I shiver with dread thinking about pre-Jürgen Excel. It's so obvious in hindsight.
Wish I had called you years earlier.”
Managing Director - Stryker Medical
Use Your Systems – Trust Your Numbers
- You have an idea or a problem to solve and you don’t know where to start and want an honest, straight forward sounding board with business acumen and IT experience.
- You have an existing Excel – solution that is lacking functionality. This is exactly where I helped hundreds of clients with their Excel spreadsheets and workflow.
- You want to work directly with me to systemise, structure and automate your workflow models. So that they will allow you and your team to base your million dollar decision on the accurate data. Just email me to set up a time for a chat.