Tuesday, February 21, 2006

When easier is harder

Sometimes easier isn't easier than harder is.

Okay, that sentence is a mess. What I mean is that the easy way out sometimes makes problems for us, and those problems end up making things harder for us overall. Over time, I've decided I'd rather have a small amount of predictable challenge in getting something done than a very easy task with random, unpredictable problems that require much rework. It's easier to meet commitments in the former case, and that's important to clients.

Some time ago, I wrote about the dangers of using spreadsheets and some alternatives. Today, I saw a pointer in comp.risks to a list of problems caused by spreadsheet errors that have made the news. Take a look, and see if you're doing anything in your business that resembles these news stories.

I still think spreadsheets can be handy for quick, simple things, but I increasingly suspect we're often better served by a real program done using real design methods for anything more complex or business critical. It's not that you cannot do a good spreadsheet (although I think the medium makes it challenging); I think it's that we usually take the perceived ease as a cue not to do them the right way.



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