“Make it work like excel”.
I’ve heard this quite a bit from non-technical managers and (and even some technical ones). You can point to many features of excel that businesses use day after day to do large tasks. Excel powers businesses because you don’t have to be technical to master it, and it has 20+ years of documentation and “How do I?” covered.
From the software perspective, make it work like excel,
is akin to asking your everyday development team to learn how to scale
Mt. Everest — that’s the scale of the difference in saying it vs doing it.
use excel as an example because you’re probably familiar with it; but
the same example could be used for any commercially produced movie, TV
Show, or piece of software.
The part hidden to us is that millions of
dollars and years went into making the first version of excel — and
they’ve had over 20 years to improve excel.
In instances where business people wanted
me to ‘make it work like excel’, I’ve had more success stepping back and
figuring out the business behind the spreadsheet.
Why is excel being used? Is it for data
entry? Manipulation? Complex formulas? replacing rote text? Why is it
there? Figuring that out then shifts the conversation from replacing a
spreadsheet based workflow with a crappier spreadsheet-looking workflow
to implementing a workflow that captures the essence behind why the
spreadsheet was necessary in the first place — and that doesn’t take millions of dollars and 20 years.
I’m interested to hear from you on this: What do you use excel for in your business? What manual processes does it replace? Are you happy with it?