We have all seen, or worked with, or even built, a spreadsheet monster. There is a high chance that there is one lurking in your office somewhere. They usually congregate in the Finance department and can often be seen during budgeting. They tend to come out at night, usually with their keeper.
Spreadsheets as pets
To my knowledge there is no current legislation for keeping a spreadsheet monster. You do need a license to keep one (Excel is the most common), and they do need to be stored in a safe place. This is typically on an office server, although they can be kept on desktops or laptops.
Fully grown, they can get quite large. They are renowned for growing throughout their life, often uncontrollably, multiply rapidly known as “versioning”. They can also be cloned, a practise which many IT managers insist they do, in a process known as “backing up”.
Training your monster
Whilst well intentioned, spreadsheet monsters do take quite a lot of looking after. It is recommended that you have at least one keeper for your monster, but its much better if you have two. Some people have tried sharing their monster, but this is not always successful. The monster can get very confused when it is shared, and will not always behave how you expect it to.
Exercising your Spreadsheet Monster
Your keeper will need to spend quite a lot of time looking after your monster. This is best done regularly, and particular effort will be needed if you want to take it out during budgeting. They are very intelligent and can be taught new tricks. The downside of this is that it will take the keeper extra time to teach it, and it will make your monster even bigger.
Understanding your Spreadsheet monster
Spreadsheet monsters can be complicated creatures. They might decide to take a long time to work things out, and sometimes they take it upon themselves not to work at all. Keepers refer to this as “crashing”. This can be solved by giving them somewhere bigger to live. They are particularly happy on virtual servers, although this is not a cheap option.
They tend to live alone or in small groups. They will talk to each other, but they are not keen on this. Sometimes they will forget each other, and the keeper has to re-introduce them in a process known as “linking”. This usually works, but its not easy to tell sometimes.
Good monsters work well and can be very reliable. Its easy for this to change though, in the hands of an unskilled keeper they can become more truculent. They can grow rapidly if this occurs.
Spreadsheet attachment issues
Many offices are very attached to their monsters. We’ve seen lots of situations where the office just cannot work without them, they are completely reliant on them at critical times. This can put great strain on the keeper and the monster. Particular care is needed here. Monsters have been known to just stop working, and they frequently do this when you need them most.
re-homing your Spreadsheet Monster
Until recently there was no alternative to having a spreadsheet monster. We do now have a solution however. We put them in a “cloud” and give them a new type of license. This can be bought from us, it’s called “Adaptive Insights”. We have moved many monsters to this and they are an awful lot happier. They work faster and perform much better. They can learn lots more and become very sociable. They love being shared and are much less demanding on their keepers.
Perhaps we can help you with the monsters in your office? Our team have lots of experience in handling them and certified in the process of re-homing them.
Take a look at what life looks like without a monster in your office..