Say you’re a sheep farmer. Would it be easier to count how many sheep you have …

  • When they are scattered about your farm and your neighboring farms, over the hill and across the stream, and running around all over the place?
  • Or, when you have rounded them up into one place on your farm?

Most people would know it’s stupid to try to count your sheep when they’re scattered all over the County (!). Right? That’s why they have sheep dogs, to round up the sheep. To keep them together.

If that’s stupid, why then do we try to consolidate spreadsheets when the sheets are scattered over many workbooks, over over many folders and many drives? Usually with linked spreadsheets.

Even if the workbooks are moved or copied over to the same drive, the numbers we’re trying to add up are on many different places. And we could still be trying to link them.

But, why?

Since 1998 there’s been a feature in Excel with which we can bring all the data (that’s the data, not the spreadsheet) into one place. That one place can be (1) another spreadsheet, or (2) a table in a database. They can be anywhere on your machine, your department’s local drive, or anywhere on the corporate network. Or even a table in a database that you (your spreadsheet, to be exact) can reach over the internet.

You can see this in action on my Group Consolidation video – part of the WTF to OMG! The Dirty Dozen series.

As there must be a billion spreadsheets around the world today that are consolidated with a pyramid of links, can someone please explain (in the comments below) why we still do that?

Hiran de Silva

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