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I have worked in the IT world for over 20 years. For over half of that time, when I worked within Corporate IT, I admit that my peers and I all looked down on solutions built with Excel.

In our eyes, Excel was ‘just’ an end-user application.

It was fine when used by ‘the business’ (a derogatory term in our IT bubble) to do ’some maths stuff’.

But Excel couldn’t be used to solve ‘real’ problems. No, no, no.. Real problems required ‘real’ technology. Real technology that required budget, servers, and ‘real’ techies like us.

Those were the days when I thought technology mattered.

But the technology does not really matter. It is the business outcome that matters.

If a ’simple’ tool like Excel can solve the business problem and deliver the desired business outcome, how can that be wrong?

In fact, there are many right things about the use of a ’simple’ tool like Excel:

  • A tool that non-techies can use is a tool that will be used.
  • A tool that enables the people who experience the problem to also solve it is a valuable tool. 
  • A tool that can solve problems without requiring new technology or new new skills is a cost-effective tool. Why introduce cost and complexity when it’s not required?

Just because Excel is simple doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be used to solve important problems.

As long as appropriate controls are put in place to ensure the Excel solution does what it’s supposed to do, it may well be the best tool for the job – Despite what my purist peers might say.