It is an undeniable fact that spreadsheets are one of the most frequently used types of software. Just Excel alone has 750 million users, as Microsoft reports, and there are also other software solutions that share a portion of the market, such as Apple Numbers or Google Sheets. Those outstanding numbers show that spreadsheets have become a de facto standard for data analysis and manipulation and are widely used by businesses of all sizes from small to big, municipalities and other government organizations.
With that in mind, it is easy to imagine the tremendous impact that can be made by errors in spreadsheets. Unfortunately, those errors exist and are very common. And this is not just an assumption, there has been an actual scientific research and a number of papers was published on the subject. The errors were categorised in many ways, from hard-coded constraints, wrong formulas, forgotten rows to corrupted links. Researchers developed an auditing protocol and applied it on 50 real-life spreadsheets from various sources (consulting company, bank, college etc.). The results are quite disturbing: only 3 of 50 spreadsheets were without error, which means that 94% of spreadsheets contain errors.
It is hard to believe that so many people and organizations rely on such a risky tool. There is even a scientific group maintaining a list of “horror stories”, real-world cases and examples of how errors in spreadsheet caused several damage, mostly (but not only) financial. High fines, disrupted investors’ confidence and millions of dollars lost, these are just some of the consequences of forgotten minus signs, too many zeros at the end of the number or manually copied data.
Although spreadsheet software itself offers many powerful functions, it lacks means to verify and control the relationships between the data that are inserted, processed and analyzed. What is more, those means aren’t just something that can be added or plugged in in future. There aren’t any such means of control because the actual nature of spreadsheets, the way they are and work, doesn’t allow that kind of control. The only way to maintain data integrity is to use guidelines and methodologies, but another research shows that the majority of users states that “common sense” is their main testing method. This proves that, rather than to force users to follow guidelines and formal procedures, we have to build software which does it for them. We give you Lumeer, because we think that software is there to help you get your work done. Effectively. With minimum risk. And with great results.
It often starts with a simple task – to create a small report in a spreadsheet. You know that you need just a few charts and tables, and using spreadsheet is the fastest and the most convenient way to do it. However, soon after that, you find out that a report is never small enough. Your boss asks you to add some data that weren’t considered before, and another chart, and then change some numbers…
Actually, the report has become a living organism that is constantly changing according to the current needs. More questions arise – what if we tried this and that, what if we added one last chart, what if we changed the parameters slightly? There is always something to improve and you want your report to be as good as it can be, don’t you? So, the data are copied, duplicated, modified and the functions are getting more and more complex for the sake of soon-to-be perfection (in which you still believe).
The report is getting bigger and better, you think you’re almost finished, and then it happens… Wait, few cells are missing from the range, let’s fix that! By the way, what is the exact meaning of this column? Is this per week or overall value? How come that when I change the values, the chart is unaffected? Suddenly, everything is breaking down and the more you try to save it, the more impossible it seems.
Have you ever been through this spreadsheet nightmare? We bet you have. How long did it take for your spreadsheet to fall apart and make you start again from scratch? We bet it was before you delivered the results but after you spent enough time to feel disappointed and not productive.
Sure, spreadsheets are accessible and easy to use. On the other hand, they carry a lot of risks – from data integrity (wrong ranges, duplicates, wrong values) to wrong formatting (decimal separator). These all seem like little things but can ruin complex reports because they are so difficult to find and manage. And in spreadsheets all of this is a hard manual work.
Imagine you were not alone while creating the report. Wouldn’t it be better, if not only you, but also the system knew the meaning of the data you’re working with, and could address and eliminate those spreadsheet risks? Even give you hints about which formula/value/function could be useful for you right at that moment? We know about one guy that can do exactly that, and his name is Lumeer!
While creating your tables and filling in data, Lumeer tries to recognize what is the meaning of individual values. When unsure, he just asks you for a confirmation. He makes sure to always cover all your current data and that the records stay consistent. You can walk a long path and build another computations on the previous data and search results. Later, when putting more types of data into a context in a chart or any other visual report, Lumeer tries to suggest you some configurations based on what he already knows. When you do not like the output, you can directly edit the original data by dragging objects in a chart. You can also perform batch operations when there is something to be fixed. Lumeer is like your colleague who does all the hard work for you.