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Accounting Day-San Diego
Monday, October 25, 2021


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Excel Consulting and Training

Excel is a major factor in our work lives. It's dominance in the market is undisputed. In my work I have noted that many users are self-taught, may of which are very proficient. At the same time, those same users are many times working very ineffectively. Common scenarios:

  • Spending 5-10-20 hours on tasks that can be done in 20 minutes
  • Doing a great job on a project, but errors keep popping up to delay completion
  • Using formulas that only do half the job
  • Data entry (typing that can be imported or otherwise brought into Excel electronically
  • Manually cleansing of imported data
  • Using a feature for a solution that the feature was not intended for
  • Writing macros for features already in Excel
  • Not using macros to automate routine tasks

I've embraced and used spreadsheets since the beginning. First Visicalc, then Lotus 1-2-3, then, of course, Excel. I have completed hundreds of projects that have saved thousands of hours, solved significant financial problems and revolutionized financial reporting.

Excel has always been a valuable tool in my practice and my fraud and forensic accounting engagements. By working effectively and getting past the "grunt work", there's time left to focus on the big picture providing superior results.

Most "Excel" engagement aren't really Excel projects, they are major financial projects using Excel as the primary tool.

My Excel training is simply teaching what I use in my practice.

My first and early computing experiences:

Shortly after graduating from college and well into my first year with an international CPA firm I purchased the HP-80 hand-held financial calculator. This tool changed the way certain aspect of audits was done. One example is that we help a client sell a troubled apartment building for a price well in excess of expectations because of the speed of calulating promissory note terms with diferent due dates, interest rates and balloon payments. What we did was to "know the numbers" quickly and the buyer was relying on "gut-feel".

This example and, alternatively, the real power, was fact that caculations could be done without the massive repetition previously needed, and this was mostly by hand with early calculators. What a great tool and introduction into the future of computing technology.

A printed card came with the calculator case stating an old quote:

It's Unworthy of Excellent men to lose hours like slaves in the labor of calculation. Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz 1685. (note the date)

Fast forward to the Spring of 1983 with the release of Lotus 1-2-3 version 1A and then Excel version 4 in 1992 (the first popular version of Excel). Let's change the quote:

It's unworthy of excellent professionals to lose hours like slaves buried in paper and early spreadsheet versions.....we now have true computing power at our finger tips.

Of course with today's Excel version 2016 we have more than exceeded our old expections of the computing power available to all of us.