Connexion is a collection of the most useful and interesting spreadsheet-related articles from the web.
We review more than 200 websites and blogs to collect the best articles on tools, tips, and techniques that help you to improve your spreadsheets. Each article here is just a snippet – click on the title to open the full article.
Following a NZ$250 million spreadsheet error, Wellington City Council is in further trouble after releasing personal data in their cost-benefit analysis spreadsheet:
An investigation has been launched after Wellington City Council committed a "serious harm data breach" by releasing personal details of people involved in road crashes including the names of drivers and medical details such as blood alcohol levels and drug use.
In many cases, the names of the drivers, car registration numbers, and driver's licence numbers were released.
The council, however, did not scrub private details before undertaking its speed management analysis. The spreadsheet was then publicly released under the Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act (LGOIMA).
Wellington Mayor Tory Whanau said she was extremely disappointed and frustrated: "I can't express how frustrated I am at the data breach, coming as it does on top of the human error made in calculations regarding the 30kmh speed limit. It's just not good enough."New Zealand Herald, 20 June 2023
The Wellington City Council admitted a NZ$250 million error in a cost-benefit spreadsheet, leading to postponement of consultation plans:
It's back to the drawing board for the plan to reduce speed limits to 30kph across Wellington, after one of the city council's own discovered a serious error in the council's cost-benefit analysis.
The mistake – first spotted by councillor Tony Randle – meant the benefits of reducing the speed limit in terms of reducing crashes was overstated by more than $250 million.
The mistake was "a small but significant error", Randle said. He had experience as an analyst and discovered the error after he asked council staff for the spreadsheet of cost-benefit analysis.Stuff, 19 June 2023
Follow up: The situation gets worse, as Wellington City Council release personal data in their cost-benefit analysis spreadsheet.
An Austrian politician was declared winner of a leadership election, but then the decision was reversed after a mistake was found:
A major Austrian opposition political party on Monday corrected the results of a closely contested leadership election after it announced the wrong winner over the weekend due to a "technical" error: Someone had messed up an Excel spreadsheet.
At a convention on Saturday, Austria’s Social Democrats (SPÖ) declared that Hans Peter Doskozil, governor of the eastern Burgenland province, was the new leader of the center-left party. But on Monday, the party said Andreas Babler, a small-town mayor and lesser-known figure, had actually won, with about 52 percent of the votes.The Washington Post, 6 June 2023
"Oh My God" Excel formulas not working in my report. Sounds familiar right? If so, don't worry, you are just one among many Excel users who face this problem very often.
To avoid all this hassle, we have written this in-depth article covering most of the reasons for Excel formulas not working. And how to fix them.
10 reasons for Excel errors:
- Calculation options.
- Excel formula not calculating, just showing formula.
- Extra space(s) is an extra headache.
- Get rid of nonprintable/hidden characters.
- Excel formatting – don't try to compare apples with oranges.
- Circular references.
- Using double quotes incorrectly.
- BODMAS - basic rule for every calculation.
- Incorrect use of "absolute" referencing.
- Incorrect formula arguments.
Solver Max, a sister company of iⁿ, provides a collection of optimization model examples in Excel (using the Solver and OpenSolver add-ins) and Python.
- Facility location. Where should we locate our facility to maximize profit?
- Job sequencing. What is the best sequence for the jobs that we need to complete?
- Wire cutting. What is the best way to cut our stock material to minimize waste?
- Fantasy sports. How can we select an optimal team for a fantasy sports competition?
- Production mix. What mix of products should we make to maximize profit?
Full article: Optimization models in Excel and Python
The BBC reports that a "badly thought-out use of Microsoft's Excel software was the reason nearly 16,000 coronavirus cases went unreported in England."
Although Excel has been the target of much blame, and even contempt, the issue is much deeper than that.
As two authors from the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW) point out, the issue isn't Excel as such, but rather the way that we use Excel:
If you work with formulas in Excel, sooner or later you will encounter the problem where Excel formulas don't work at all (or give the wrong result).
In this article, I will highlight those common issues that are likely the cause of your Excel formulas not working.
This tutorial covers:
- Incorrect syntax of the function.
- Extra spaces causing unexpected results.
- Using manual calculation instead of automatic.
- Deleting rows/column/cells leading to #REF! error.
- Incorrect placement of parenthesis (BODMAS).
- Incorrect use of absolute/relative cell references.
- Incorrect reference to sheet / workbook names.
- Circular references.
- Cells formatted as text.
- Text automatically getting converted into dates.
- Hidden rows/columns can give unexpected results.
Modelers across the globe are beginning to recognise financial modeling as a profession.
Despite strong support for professional standards many modeling teams do not implement them rigorously and a suprising number of teams do not have consistent quality control systems in place.
Key conclusions from "2019 Financial Modeling Profession Survey":
- 84% of modelers agree that financial modeling is a dynamic and innovative profession.
- Errors in models remain common. 47% of respondents reported errors that were not picked up by internal review processes.
- Most financial modelers are self-trained and rarely attend formal financial modeling training courses.
Full article: Why implementing a financial modelling standard is hard