But while Excel the program is reasonably robust, the spreadsheets that people create with Excel are incredibly fragile. There is no way to trace where your data come from, there’s no audit trail (so you can overtype numbers and not know it), and there’s no easy way to test spreadsheets, for starters. The biggest problem is that anyone can create Excel spreadsheets—badly. Because it’s so easy to use, the creation of even important spreadsheets is not restricted to people who understand programming and do it in a methodical, well-documented way.
Having sat on both sides of the fence: first as a financial analyst, and now as a software developer, helping companies that have often “outgrown” Excel, it’s scary to see how dependent businesses are on fickle spreadsheets. Billion dollar businesses and programs are built on top of it, when millions of dollars should be invested in software that solves the same problem in a more well-made way.