Tips and Tricks

7 Questions You Must Ask Before Starting to Work on a Spreadsheet

Before starting work on a spreadsheet, it’s helpful to ask yourself such questions.

Spreadsheets have been a valuable tool in the office for years now and we’re all pretty familiar with them. But familiarity can lead to complacency and often people start keying data into spreadsheets without really asking themselves what value it brings. So, before you start work on a spreadsheet, it’s good to ask yourself these questions.

1. What information needs to be tracked?

Allowing your spreadsheet to become unnecessarily busy is a sure-fire way to confusion. Think carefully about what each piece of data brings to the project and only include it if serves a purpose. If you’re working alone or in a small team, keeping track of everything is straightforward. But once you start to include multiple partners, it can become more confusing so superfluous data adversely affects efficiency. The amount and types of data you can store using Retable far outweigh those of traditional spreadsheets. You can add attachments, long text notes, checkboxes, and links to records in another table, so it’s important you think carefully about what to include.

2. Do you need filtering or sorting parameters?

Sometimes you may want to look at your data in different ways to get a fuller understanding of the progress. Other times you may need to look back at all the changes which have been made or upcoming deadlines. With Retable you can set up regular filters to allow you to instantly see the project from different views. As you make changes, the system will automatically sync all other views so you don’t need to go in and make manual amendments.

3. Who is going to need access to what?

If you have a number of different collaborators working on a project you can customize their views so they can see the data and information relevant to them without it being clouded by unnecessary data.

4. Do you need to keep track of changes?

Throughout the duration of the project, you may need to go back and see when changes took place and by whom. The Retable, all changes are tracked and audited so you can access the necessary information at the click of a button.

5. Do you need to share this spreadsheet with external parties?

If you’re collaborating with partners you may need to allow external parties to view all or part of the information. Retable allows you to allocate each individual or organisation their own unique view of the information relevant to their role. This makes collaboration and information quick and easy without compromising on security.

6. How many rows is the spreadsheet going to need in the future?

To help prevent confusion you may want to limit the size of your spreadsheet. If you decide to do this, you’ll need to think about how many rows will be required throughout the duration of the project. Retable allows you to design a bespoke spreadsheet with the ability to grow it when required.

7. Are there limitations to data collection and validation?

One of the issues traditionally associated with collaborative documents is that different people use different words for what is essentially the same thing. For example, you might be asking for information such as the name of a city. One colleague enters ‘London’, another ‘Ldn’ and another ‘London, UK’. These different spellings influence data hygiene. With Retable, you can predefine the city column with so that, rather than manually typing it in, users select from a multiple-choice list. This helps keep the data clean and makes the whole program run efficiently.

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Written by
Arzu Özkan
Digital Marketing Manager

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