Spreadsheets are great.
No other technology has lowered the entry barrier to computing by more in the world of business.
Of course, and this is where the ‘but’ comes in, large spreadsheets often get out of control. A problem we’ve seen all too often is a small one-off model that works fantastically for a simple analysis ends up turning into a mission- critical piece of infrastructure.
Then a new product, employee, or account needs to be incorporated into the sheet. What was quick to build is difficult to change.
Maybe computation grinds to a halt as the sheet grows? Automatic recalculation has to be disabled because a sheet takes five minutes, ten minutes, or even longer to recompute on every key-press. Users end up forgetting to recompute after changing inputs, sheets show stale values.
Or maybe you need to collect sales estimates from different groups to model the next year’s budget? Time is wasted e-mailing templates between departments and weekends are wasted manually copying and pasting the returned values back into a master sheet.
At some point enough is enough. Consultants are brought in (like my co-founder Joe!), the system is rebuilt and performance is fixed, but at the cost of bureaucracy and loss of control. What was formerly a quick fix to a spreadsheet is now a billable change request to a third party.
It shouldn’t have to be this way. Users should be able to maintain control of their business processes.
Really, that’s the motivation behind Co-Modeller. Can we fix the problems that prevent spreadsheet-based models from growing along with businesses while still retaining the overall experience of modelling with a spreadsheet?
We strongly believe that the only way to build good software is to work with real-world businesses on real-world problems from the outset. As such we’ve been using Co-Modeller to support projects in a consulting capacity for the last year or so. Since it’s working well for both ourselves internally and for our clients it’s time to try to get the system ready for use by others! This blog series will document the journey towards the preview release.