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Excel makes a poor shared database!

Posted to Gurteen Knowledge-Log by David Gurteen on 23 March 2010



Excel makes a poor shared database!
WeblogGurteen Knowledge Log
Knowledge LetterAppears in the Gurteen Knowledge Letter issue: 117
Posted DateTuesday 23 March 2010 12:00 GMT
Posted ByDavid Gurteen

Fifteen years ago or more when I was developing Lotus Notes applications I was often asked to take an Excel spreadsheet and turn it into a Notes app. A common way of sharing information then was to create an Excel spreadsheet and store it on a shared disk drive where people could access it and update it or to pass it around by email.

Why Excel and not a database? Well Excel was the only tool that everyone had easy access to. Either they did not have access to a database tool because IT would not allow it or they did not have the skills to develop a database application themselves and could not afford to ask IT. But everyone had Excel and everyone knew how to program it - however crudely. Turning a spreadsheet into a Notes app was usually trivial and only took an hour or two but hugely improved the quality and accessibility of the information.

Using a spreadsheet was a very poor fudge back then but today its a crazy solution given all the modern tools we have! But guess what I came across an organisation a week or two back that were sharing information just that way - Excel spreadsheets on a shared drive! I still find it hard to believe.

If you are interested in Knowledge Management, the Knowledge Café or the role of conversation in organizational life then you my be interested in this online book I am writing on Conversational Leadership
David Gurteen

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