Archive for the ‘Excel’ Category

10 year birthday

Sunday, 12th February, 2017

I missed it obviously but one of the kids pointed out I have been blogging here for 10 years! ken ell!

(as of January just gone)

I can’t imagine dragging it out for another 10, unless some spreadsheet miracle happens and I am sucked back in. I still think spreadsheets are brilliant at a great many things, I have just given up waiting for numb nuts management to realise.

I built a random mental maths test generator for the kids the other day. I looked at doing it as an app, as a web thing,  but in the end I did it in a spreadsheet in about 10 minutes. The kids hate it!

I love it!

(it even has a bit of VBA in it – woo hoo)

cheers

simon

Excel Conference in Amsterdam

Tuesday, 5th January, 2016

I just saw this (on linkedin of all places – I only go there twice a year).

Dunno much about it, except its being run by a gang of well known Excel experts so should be very excellent.

I won’t be going as Excel is basically dead to me these days.

If you are going, have fun.

cheers

simon

 

 

Excel Modeling World Championships 2014

Wednesday, 27th August, 2014

I saw this last year and thought it was a great idea, and have just been prompted to mention it.

Here is all the info

Big wedge for the winner…

And the fame of course…

ciao, peeps

Excel Dev book

Monday, 6th January, 2014

Thanks for all the input folks.

I had a good think, and although it feels somewhat like a waste not to share some of my most useful experiences, I don’t think now is the time for the book I have in mind.

There are several factors depressing the Excel development market at the moment, some are permanent trends, some I think will reverse in a year or two. In particular there is a heavy regulatory downer on Excel just now, once people get caught messing up in the replacement technologies that focus will move off, allowing people to get back to the benefits of Excel.

Also IT departments currently have a big veto power, I think once people notice that that doesn’t actually move the business forward their influence will decline, allowing people to get back to the benefits of Excel.

maybe.

On the other hand the time may really be up for professional Excel development.

Either way I’ll still chip in here with points of interest.

cheers

simon

Excel Dev Book

Thursday, 19th December, 2013

I keep wondering about writing a book about Excel development.

It would be less technical than PED, perhaps a bit more like Code Complete for Excel. A bit more design based than code based. The target audience would be business folks wanting to improve their Excel clicking and IT folks needing to target Excel. It would be set in the context of the reality of working with Excel in big companies.

I did discuss it with a publisher a while ago, but at this stage I would probably do it as a self publish e-book, with maybe a print option.

It would be based on my couple of weeks Excel experience (cataloguing my CD collection), and would touch many complementary technologies like ADO, ExcelDNA, XLL+.

I’m thinking more of a 300 page wordy tome rather than a 1000 page screenshot fest.

The sort of chapters might be something like

  • strengths and weaknesses of Excel
  • The RAD process with Excel as the client
  • Excel dev models (workbook with VBA, Add-in etc)
  • Excel grid best practices
  • Excel facts and fallacies

The only thing stopping me is the apparent death of Excel as a serious business tool. I’d hate to invest all that effort and then find my mum is the only person willing to buy it. (Well, her and as an excellent stocking filler for my kids at Christmas (not this one of course!)).

There is no doubt in my mind that sensible use of Excel is good in every way for most organisations. Sadly its the bad use that is most common and gets all the bad press. One aim of the book would be to propose some of the smart ways of using Excel (including using some of the newer features).

So my question is:

If there were such a book do you think there would be a market for it? Do you know people who would buy it?

(I know, that’s two questions)

cheers

simon

Quant jobs

Wednesday, 18th December, 2013

Where have they all gone?

A couple of years ago Excel + VBA + C++ and a bit of maths and the world was your oyster.

Last year it was all HFT which is just nerd tastic engineering stuff.

This year it has been mainly risk and regulatory control.

Are there Quants any more? what tech are they using? how many mid and back office people are they carrying?

I keep wondering about doing a masters in financial chicanery, but I think that boat has sailed. Probably safer going back to furniture making.

Is the all the quant stuff really only done in Matlab, R or SAS now?

cheers

simon

Some other Excel Jobs

Friday, 13th December, 2013

Lets say a decent permie rate for Excel work is 60k

Contractors are more efficient as they don’t have all the 1-1 reviews and career planning bullshit, and are paid a risk premium for being easily sackable so lets say 100k pa or 400 per day. (In this case, via a decent agency the client would probably pay less than 500 per day.)

A good contractor can work most of the year so can approach the 100k total, less holidays (no sick time – everyone know contractors are never sick).

Employment law in most countries is completely bolloxed up meaning the party that wants a flexible skilled resource and the person willing to provide that flexibility and shoulder some operational risk have to jump through all kinds on hoops to achieve their joint aim. Hence agencies and a whole other bunch of buggeration.

Worse than agencies are the body shops, these ‘consultancies’ exploit dysfunctional employment rules to weasel into these flexible requirement gaps.

In the above example, they will take on the ‘permie’ (on a fixed term contract normally) on the 60k, or most likely take a more junior person on say 40k. They then pimp them out to the client for 1,200 per day. They can do this because the only thing more fooked up than employment law is modern procurement practice and the cursed ‘preferred supplier’ scam.

If they can’t sucker someone into a fake permie role (of course they promise to pay you even when you are not charged out to a client, but that won’t last long before you are dumped), then they will try and sucker a contractor in by offering slightly better than the 40k pa, like 200-250 a day instead.

A normal agency adds no more than 20% to the workers rate, these clowns are adding 300% or more. I won’t mention any names, the evidence is clear on the jobsites.

It seems that a few of those missing 400 per day Excel contractor roles are now 200 per day roles so some body shop can make their kilo of flesh, and blood. (Bear in mind the cost to the client has increased in this scenario – and the quality of service has generally declined). But procurement are happy as they have less 2 pound supplier credit checks to do. The banks aren’t generally dumb enough to fall for this but government departments lap it up.

(Sadly this pointless bodyshop approach is the standard in Switzerland, hence why I am looking Europe wide (had a sniff of a Dublin job last week – Guinness at Keoghs every night? – tempting!!))

Are you consulting in the public sector carrying an astronomical, unjustifiable bodyshop overhead?

Have you seen these sort of job ads?

cheers

simon

Some of that Excel development

Friday, 6th December, 2013

At one place I worked, the IT department were, you might say, not massively responsive to user needs.

User needs being rapid response (hours or days, rather than months or years) systems development.

The RAD team I was in was a battleground, Users wanting us to rush stuff into production as soon as it compiled, IT wanting us to stop development and start documenting from scratch on new improved word templates. (The improvement being a more consistent theme and styling rather than anything of business value.)

Then  a funny thing happened Рthe users stopped calling us.

They had been recruiting assistants with strong Excel VBA dev skills and were bypassing the whole IT rigmarole.

This is where I think a fair chunk of Excel dev work has gone – under the radar, out of IT control, and off the IT job boards.

And when I say strong skills I mean on a business scale rather than a developer scale. ie crap naming, global variables, no design, no testing, lots of macro recorder pap, etc etc.

Overall, I doubt this move will have a positive impact on long term delivery ability, or quality (compared to decent RAD input – you can’t compare to mainstream IT as they wouldn’t have delivered anything, so sure, they would have less production defects).

Anyone else seen this rise of the super user?

cheers

simon

 

 

Where has all the Excel development gone?

Monday, 2nd December, 2013

The amount of Excel (developer) jobs advertised at the moment is tiny. And this decline is not a temporary thing it seems like a terminal nose dive in Excel development roles.

If no one is recruiting Excel specialists for dev roles then

  1. Have they stopped developing spreadsheet based systems?
  2. Have they stopped supporting the existing ones?
  3. Are none specialists now doing that work under the radar?
  4. Has everyone just got the right amount of people already?

 

My answers:

  1. IT departments largely have, the business not.
  2. IT departments largely are trying to, the business not.
  3. Yes, very much, under the radar with the invisible budget
  4. Nope

I have some more posts lined up in this area so I don’t want to add too much, just that I would be very interested to hear your views.

Future posts will look at some of the reasons for this shift and skill set factors (Excel, or Excel & VBA alone have not been enough for a long time).

What are you seeing?

cheers

simon

 

Good Spreadsheet practice

Wednesday, 27th November, 2013

Something a bit more realistic and less dramatic than ‘don’t use them’, from the ICAEW.

Please have a read and make some (constructive) comments on that site.

I can think of a counter example to all of their suggestions but I guess in general they are mostly fair enough, if perhaps a little woolly.

Some of them read a little like workarounds for poor fundamental design (eg protection – I’m never a fan!).

cheers

simon