Excel Programmers and IT Alliances – Excel Topics

Being Excel gurus in your offices or Excel consultants to many different companies, you are always assumed to be at odds with the IT guys. But the need of the hour is not to have these alpha battles but to collaborate effectively.

The technology landscape is changing really fast and the business needs are evolving even faster. Addressing this situation calls for formation of an alliance with the IT personnel. All the way from our Excel experts, we present to you some tips to achieve this outcome.

Working with IT Personnel

Most IT guys are expected to not be avid Excel users, let alone come from a rigorous programming background to deal with your VBA codes. Hence, it is always a good idea to bring as much into the spreadsheet as is possible and let Macros run behind the scenes. This means that developing user-friendly interfaces, where one can just input data and press a button to do something, should be the norm rather than a one-off thing.

Resolving Conflicts

Conflicts can never be resolved through “who’s right” arguments. Collaborating with the IT people is definitely the way forward. It is important to realize that they excel at what they do, for example pulling data into a spreadsheet from a data warehouse. And, as expert Excel users, we are better at analyzing and using that data. The functions of these two sets of people complement each other. And we need to highlight this fact.

Also, it is important to note that the gap between the IT personnel and Excel experts is narrowing as Power BI is evolving into a much more complex set of tools.

Sharing Your Work

Sharing the spreadsheets created by you is always a dreaded task. This is so as we ultimately expect to receive hundreds, if not thousands, of queries on what is going on! Well, there are a few things you can do to make this task lesser dreaded or, maybe, even fruitful:

  1. Putting instructions in the spreadsheet: this will enable people using your spreadsheets to know where to input what data and what to do after that.
  2. Training sessions on Excel: these training sessions can range from introducing the various features and tools Excel has from increasing familiarity with VBA. It depends upon how much the audience is skilled at Excel. But one sure thing is that you will be addressing many people at one time. This not only saves your time but also reduces subsequent queries you might receive on spreadsheets created by you.
  3. Comment on code: for code-heavy files, it’s a good idea to provide comments on each line explaining them (if that is indeed the intent). Such an effort will only be appreciated by the end-user. There are two things to keep in mind though:
    The level of details, again, depends on the audience. But one should, at all costs, avoid putting in irrelevant information, such as dates, in comments.
    ii. Code for your future-self as well so that it can be edited quickly, if need be, even after a year.

Using Work of Others

This can be a very frustrating task. There are two things which help readability of spreadsheets or VBA codes:

  1. Neatness of the code: lines should be properly indented and comments should be appropriate.
  2. Use of sub-procedures: instead of writing one long procedure, breaking the code down into sub-procedures always helps understanding and debugging easier for other people.

Hence, as Excel experts, we should encourage our colleagues to adopt these guidelines. Ultimately, they will be coming to you with their spreadsheets. Hence, this reduces your own precious time and some unnecessary frustration.

Share with us what you have conquered with Excel

We would love to read about your unique experiences in dealing with similar problems at work. Please leave your comments below.

And… share these amazing tips with your friends!

Jamani Arsalan


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  • My experience was more like Chris described.
    IT is in their world and they’re dealing with much larger, enterprise-level stuff. I interacted a lot more with project managers and account managers.

    We lived in a world of ad hoc and small fires. That wasn’t IT’s world.

    The biggest challenge wasn’t directly with IT, it was with Database Admins. The issue was always around getting data when I needed it. If a customer meeting was tomorrow morning, I couldn’t wait until next week for a critical report. But the DBA’s response was often: they were doing something that took much higher priority.

    And yes. The DBAs might be involved with our international company buying a regional competitor. Whereas, I was dealing with 30 customer service reps, 100 customers, and some messed up orders.

    Once I learned how to write simple queries in the database, I had full autonomy.

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