In this video, we will listen to several data professionals discuss the advantages and limitations of using spreadsheets as a tool for data analysis. Let us start with, “What are the benefits and advantages of using spreadsheets as a tool for data analysis?” My experience using spreadsheets as a tool for data analysis is somewhat mixed. I think they can be really, really useful in the right context, but using spreadsheets definitely has its limitations, so the big pro of using spreadsheets is you can see all the data cleanly laid out in front of you in a table. So, I think it's very clear to anyone looking at a spreadsheet exactly what the data is, what format it comes in, all of that. You can just easily, visually inspect it. As a CPA, I use Microsoft Excel on a daily basis and I have done so for the duration of my career. The functionalities, the pivot, the pivot tables, the charts, etc. But also, being able to use formulas. My personal favorite is Index Match for using a pretty simple way to take just thousands of lines of information and sift through all of that to find specifically what you're looking for. Excel is really that one-stop-shop where you can perform calculations, analyze financial ratios, and even export reports out of the ERP that I spoke of earlier to customize it as you need. My experiences using spreadsheets is that they're great for simple analysis. I will say spreadsheets, over the years, the process itself has just improved as systems improve, as technology improves, spreadsheets are the way to go. Spreadsheets overall, when you do have probably anywhere from zero to twenty-thousand lines of data, it's a good way to go, you can really pull out the data. Whether I'm trying to see how much a client’s making per month, but they may have, you know, a thousand transactions. All of that's helpful. I can use this spreadsheet to whittle down what is actually going on per month or if I want to do a Sum If, or you know if this happens, give me this number. It it's really helpful to be able to dig in and wrap your hands around it and take something that seems, on the surface, twenty-thousand lines seems almost unmanageable, but if I take it and I massage it, put it in a spreadsheet and then sort it filter it, make it pretty, put in a pivot table, I can get what I need. It’s just all about not looking at it as being this intimidating thing but making it more manageable and breaking it down into bite size chunks. Spreadsheets are the easiest way to analyze data and present data. We don't need any fancy tools or additional software for spreadsheets. It's like the commonly utilized language to communicate. Thank you for that insight, but let's move on to look at the other side of the coin. What are the drawbacks and limitations of using spreadsheets as a tool for data analysis? I think one of the big cons in terms of analyzing data within spreadsheets is it's really hard to reproduce state. So, in other words, if you load in some data and you filter out some bad values, or you impute some missing values, there's no way to tell your colleagues or your future self exactly the different steps you took to create that data set. Or to modify that data set. It's almost a dilemma because of the plethora of options available within Excel and all of the functions that are there, supposedly to make your life easier, but it's nearly impossible to know everything. And you can find yourself in what we accountants call analysis paralysis when you're looking at something for too long or you're not well versed in a particular Excel function. So, you may spend a lot more time, energy, and effort trying to figure that one thing out. And had you done it a different way? Or maybe a manual way? You probably could have gotten to the solution a lot easier. And the downside of using spreadsheets is that if you have complex formulas, v-lookups, if-statements at times they just stopped working and you have to rebuild them. So, I have found that it's better to use Excel just for simple analysis and for a download of information. I love a good spreadsheet. I love using Excel and pivot tables to get to the data, but I find that I if I start to get over ten, twenty- thousand lines of data, it gets a little tricky. And sometimes the spreadsheets will crash. So that's when we might move to Access and some of the other tools that we use. Is very difficult to handle the extremely large data set in spreadsheets. Besides spreadsheets have less flexibility for complicated analysis and presentation.