SHell is my personal expression for S-preadsheet HELL. I have seen it many times, yet it still surprises me again and again.

Every company needs to keep some kind of specialized records, starting from simple entities such as employees, cars, contracts and ending with more complicated items like large budget calculations etc. These are the situations from which Spreadsheet Hell stems.

Every company has at least one experienced spreadsheet user who therefore creates sophisticated tables with calculations, conditional formatting, pivot tables and graphs. The person — or their boss — then presents the created table to other managers who are excited by it and want to share that magic. In the worst-case scenario someone sends the spreadsheet as a file in an e-mail to multiple recipients. Some of the recipients are also experienced spreadsheet users and so they create newer versions. At least two people create their version at the same time, then they send it back to all the recipients again and so on. At the end of the day, no one knows which version is the last and which data is correct.

The gates of hell are suddenly wide open.

In a slightly better case the file is not shared via email but via shared storage (local file share, cloud). This time we know where the last version is located but we have another problem — locking the file in order to prevent others from editing its data. Particularly “pleasant” is a scenario when a person locks the file and starts their two-week holiday. Another problem with a simple file simple sharing is that fact that you cannot say who changed the file and when.

So at this point the hell is somewhat cooler but still over 500 °C hot.

Probably the best option of sharing a spreadsheet is to use some kind of an online service so that you have all the versions available. That way two people can even collaborate on one file at the same time. It looks like a perfect solution, but the hell does not give up so easily. It is impossible to protect data in an accurate way. Permissions can be set only at a very basic level and therefore there is no control as to who sees which data. You cannot set the notification scheme based on defined conditions etc. At this point, we find ourselves at the very bottom of the hell.

So how do we cross the border and escape from that hot place?

Let us use some kind of a solution that is designed to work with data and to share it in a secure way. Let us use Tabidoo as it offers exactly those things.

  • Online record keeping / records — you have one place with one data version.
  • Data audit — in every second you can see who changed the data and what was the original value.
  • Notification scheme — you can set a condition as to when you want to be notified, e.g. when a new record appears, when a record is deleted, when an attribute reaches a goal (for instance the profit of 1 000 000 U$) etc.
  • Permission scheme — in Tabidoo it is easy to set tuned conditions, users who can see/edit certain data. Employees can see their own salary but the salary of their colleagues is hidden from them. The boss, of course, can see everything. And so on.
  • Sharing data — with Tabidoo you can share data with every person simply by sending them an email invitation.

And here we are — the hell is now far away and we are right in the middle of data paradise.