Excel master needed...where to find one?
August 17, 2006 11:45 AM   Subscribe

I run a computer service. I have an issue that is a bit outside the bounds. I have a client who has been using an Excel spreadsheet to track his portfolio. It is pre-formatted for him to enter data and the formulas are all there. Just recently, it started calculating some things incorrectly. The person who originally set it up just passed away earlier this year. We need an Excel expert that can look at the file and don't know where to begin to find one. Checked the local community college but no dice. All ideas or pointers are appreciated.
posted by titans13 to Computers & Internet (10 answers total)
You could always just describe the actual problem here in more detail and see if we can noodle it out for you.
posted by empath at 11:46 AM on August 17, 2006

If it's a problem that you believe can be easily broke down, posting the actual problem here would be a good idea.

Barring that, my email's in my profile.

Barring that, Rent-A-Coder can be quite useful once you find someone who won't flake out on you and who speaks your language fluently.
posted by Doofus Magoo at 11:48 AM on August 17, 2006

See what happens if you open it in Open Office.
Check for numeric limits being exceed.
Check for assumptions about dates that no longer apply.

Finally, separate the failing formulas into their component parts to find the part that's failing. (E.g., separate "A1 + B1 * C1 + foo( D1)" into "foo( D1 )" and "B1 * C1" and "A1 + B1 * C1";
posted by orthogonality at 11:57 AM on August 17, 2006

I work with Excel financial spreadsheets for a living, so if Doofus Magoo can't figure it out, I'll give it a whack. Email's in my profile.
posted by coffeespoons at 12:06 PM on August 17, 2006

try Mr. Excel
posted by blister at 12:41 PM on August 17, 2006

Excel 2003 (possibly earlier versions too) have a way to see what cells are used in this calculation - keep going back up the tree and you have a set of suspects.

Selct a cell then: Tools > Formula Auditing > Trace Precedents (there is also Trace Dependents which works the opposite way)
posted by azlondon at 12:47 PM on August 17, 2006

Maybe he changed the formatting? I had a user who added blank rows into the sheet which made one of the sum functions not work anymore. Getting rid of those fixed the issue.

Before sending the sheet around make sure the user is okay with it. And same thing, I'd take a look at it if you'd like. It's probably something little that would be a quick fix, if you know where to look. E-mail's inside.
posted by bDiddy at 12:49 PM on August 17, 2006

Might also be helpful to think about what has changed recently with the computer, software, or relevant data that may have led to the problem as well. Any upgrades done? or significant changes in the data entered (especially values around 0)?
posted by GhostintheMachine at 1:01 PM on August 17, 2006

Did your client ever create backup versions of this spreadsheet? If so, you could open a backup from the time period when the spreadsheet calculated correctly, and look for changes.
posted by Pigpen at 1:36 PM on August 17, 2006

I used to work in "corporate America", and the Accounting & Finance departments of my company were chock-full of Excel gurus. Ask your friends who work in the corporate world - they should be able to put you in touch with a bunch Excel experts.
posted by jknecht at 1:44 PM on August 17, 2006

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