Thursday, October 11, 2012


My co-worker is responsible for making reports for our office on employee leaves. She uses Excel and Access for this. It's a huge process - the amount of data she has to review to do this is incredibly time consuming. And accuracy, of course, is a big deal. However, one thing you learn the minute you start dealing with employees' time off is that things sometimes get screwy. What was accurate yesterday is not necessarily accurate today.

I'm an intermediate Excel user - maybe at one time I was more advanced but I don't use it that much anymore. I know how to make graphs and charts but it's been awhile, I would need more time now. I have zero experience with Access. One day I guess I should look into that but for now I'm okay without it.

Anyway, my co-worker's reports were created for her by an intern we had working with us for awhile. Her main report is in Excel, and it grabs data from four different sources. Three of them are other Excel reports, and one is in Access. The formulas for pulling the data have errors in them. According to my co-worker, this part of the plan "never" worked, not from day one. The intern has since moved on, and so she's stuck updating, manually, this report that was supposed to change her world. She has to do this every month.

I took a look at it for her today, and that thing is fucked up. Someone (me? Should I volunteer? Do you hear me laughing?) needs to start all over. It's just too confusing to look at that report and try to fix it. For one thing, the intern (a very nice guy who I first met at the baby shower they had for me here, which was quite well attended, surprisingly. I didn't really understand why he wanted to come to my baby shower, but he did, and I thought that was nice) made the thing "pretty." I hate pretty Excel reports, especially when they're just dealing with data. Nobody looks at this thing except her. Does it matter if each row is an alternating shade of blue? No. And then, it has a lot of duplicated information. None of the calculations work right. I mean, that's a huge problem. And the thing is sooooo big. And even being so big, it doesn't do what it needs to do. My question is, why do they need 5 reports in the first place? Even if they're tracking different things, wouldn't it make sense to create one big "master" report, and then pull from there? Why have so many separate documents? It all has to do with leave, just different types of leave.

Then, she has to take the data (which she has to enter herself, not automatically, as it's supposed to work) and create another report.

Do you see the issues here? Maybe I'm not explaining exactly where the problems are very clearly... but even though I didn't really want to, I'm now thinking about this thing more and more. I'm wondering if I could figure out a way to make it better.

The thing is, whether or not I wrote about it correctly here, or explained it well enough, or conveyed the idea that I might have the capacity to fix this, I think I could. I think I could unravel this particular ball of rubber bands.

Hmmm. The question is, do I want to volunteer to do it?

No comments:

Post a Comment