On the flip side, spreadsheets certainly have their worrisome issues. They are low on version control and data quality control and are subject to human error. "Anyone can put whatever data they want into the spreadsheet. Spreadsheets are full of subjectivity and have varying quality and validity," Bailey says. For instance, if someone pulls data into a spreadsheet for a sales presentation and an attendee points out a ratio error, then "your credibility plummets," Bailey illustrates.
Unwieldy for Reviews
Spreadsheets make it difficult for supervisor review, and peer review, because they are so unwieldy. "Who is going to give a 15-worksheet workbook with thousands of calculations a thorough look?" Bailey asks.
The drawbacks of spreadsheets have led him to be a fervent user of more sophisticated BI and reporting tools. A former employee of Quantrix, he prefers its software for its validation and versioning features. "You can look at one formula and validate more than 30% of calculations. It's a more efficient way of reviewing models," he says.
Bailey believes that Excel will be unseated someday as the tool of choice. "What made folks say, 'I'm done with horses, I think I'll drive a car'?" he asks. "That's the kind of change it will take."