Back to Blog
Blog post image

Your Spreadsheet's First Impression

Apr 14, 2023 11:00:18 AM

Don't make this common modelling mistake.

You know that feeling...

You've finally… FINALLY got your spreadsheet to work, and it's giving you the all-important answers you built it for in the first place. It's a beautiful feeling, but you're also tired, it's late, you've had people chasing you for the damn thing for weeks now. You can see the light at the end of the tunnel though, and it looks good!

Yes, ok, some of your worksheets are a bit scrappy. Some of the cell formatting could be refined a bit. A few borders here or there need some attention. There's maybe the odd typo in some of the text. But the model works… surely that's enough, right?


Ignore that voice whispering in your ear. You're about to make a big mistake. Well, possibly multiple mistakes in all honesty because your model should be comprehensively tested before you share it with any key decision makers. That's not the mistake I'm talking about though. It's the first impression mistake you're about to walk into; the belief that nobody will notice all those little imperfections. Stop. Don't hit that send button.

The problem is that those minor issues do leave an impression. For anyone looking at your model, each one of those little dips below a certain visual standard is like a short, sharp jab in the eye. The viewer will give the first couple a pass, but then they can't see anything except those imperfections. It only takes a handful of eye-jabs, and they will have made their mind up about you.

If the viewer is a fellow modeller, they'll be left thinking you rush your work, and you don't have a level of attention to detail they feel comfortable with.

If the viewer is an FD or CFO, you could be in real trouble. They may just reject the model altogether and be left with the impression that you can't be relied upon.

Remember this though

Avoid the danger at the other end.

Making your model look good is not a substitute for testing. It's the icing on the cake, not an alternative to the cream.

So be your own personal, pedantic sidekick. Make sure your model is thoroughly tested, and work through every single one of those minor blemishes.

They matter. You won't regret it.

Take our free 30-question skills assessment

See where you stand with your Excel, financial modelling, data visualisation & analytics, and modelling tech skills

Take Free Skills Assessment