Death by Excel

I am an Accounting Manager (Actually, I’m vying for a title change- I want to be a Controller. I feel it’s much more fitting for my role in the company.). So I’m in charge of all the money, real and theoretical.

Anyhow. My boss is out West meeting with his boss. Like a good beancounter, I sent him out there with some very nice numbers in a rockin’ little spreadsheet. These numbers prove that What We Want To Do will Make More Money. I was happy to give them to him, and he was thrilled to have them.

Until. He went into a meeting with his boss and I started getting these desperate emails, fast and furious, from his Blackberry (I know when he’s using his Blackberry cause his punctuation sucks). “These are historical figures, and this year won’t be like last year. We need to prove that our plan will work moving forward.”

Okay, great. Hold on while I pull a crystal ball out of my ass. And? Of course this year won’t be like last year. Next year won’t be like this year. None of those years will be like 1987. Sorry about that!

We went back and forth, trying to decide how to legitimize What We Want To Do. I told him that I was taking my numbers home, to ponder in my living room, at my leisure. As with much of my inspiration, I found the answer sitting on my couch.

They wrote a Plan. Their Plan says what is supposed to happen this year. Apparently, the finance department does have a crystal ball. Goody for them. Then it hit me. What if I took their plan and used it to prove that What We Want To Do will make more money? How can they argue with the validity of their own damn plan?! GENIUS.

Except it’s the biggest freakin’ spreadsheet in the known universe, and it’s so big that only way to work with it is to turn the zoom down to 75%, and that makes it hard to tell the difference between the numbers and formulas in the cells and little mice prints running across my screen.

Yesterday, when I was completely cross-eyed, I get an email from my boss. “Don’t tie the projected numbers to the Old Plan. Here is a New Plan. Your figures have to tie into The New Plan.”

For reals? Okay, no problem- I’ll use the totals from the Old Plan to justify what I present in the New Plan. Except- the New Plan breaks out our revenue numbers in a different way than the Old Plan, and I have no way of converting them. So I’m working on this project with no earthly idea of how to complete it.

Do you have a headache yet? Yeah, well, that’s just from hearing about it. Imagine if you were the one doing it. I probably won’t have any hair left when I’m done.

I love Corporate America.

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5 Responses

  1. Sounds like fun! I love projects like that! 🙂 Seriously! I’m a nerd that way.

    Have fun – let me know if I can help at all!

  2. Are you sure you don’t work for the government, ’cause that totally sounds like what I deal with on a regular basis. It’s enough to drive a girl to drink…

  3. well, at least you get to stick to excel and not have to break everything up into 3 vague points per slide in a powerpoint presentation.

    rock the excel, verybadcat, we believe in you!

  4. Projections? Plan? These words are my life. As are massive Excel spreadsheets (and systems that do most of the calculations for you). It sounds like maybe you have a “top-down” Plan (i.e., make your numbers work/justify them within the top level figure we give you), which are usually much easier to project from and within than a “bottoms up” plan. With top down, you’re only left with justifying the anomalies rather than explaining and justifying the whole rationale. There’s ultimately less analysis of each segment involved. Like Tricia, this kind of stuff is fun to me. 🙂 I’m not quite sure what you mean by “broken out in a different way” than the old Plan though? If I’m understanding it correctly, you may have to create a new spreadsheet that breaks it out the new way? This typically only means you’ll have to figure out the exact components of each breakout and get access to that data.

  5. These projects *are* fun when you have some notice and stable parameters. When you’re doing it on the fly, and every time you’re close to finished, they change the rules, it makes me tear my hair out.

    Everything worked out fine. I used a different methodology and based all of my projections on my boss’s forecast, and it was beautiful and wonderful. 🙂

    Yep, Meghan, we’ve got a “top-down” plan, and I’m only beginning to realize how lucky I am!!

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