Working with Google Sheets

In my previous life within a large corporation I worked a lot on metrics and reporting. Because tech writing is usually an afterthought when it comes to a large R&D and Sales focused organisation like the one I worked for, naturally we had no money for this so it was all done with a digital-equivalent of make do and mend. Our stats were spread out everywhere in different systems (systems is overstating it somewhat) and the formats weren’t unified. It fell to a nerd like me, someone who just can’t stand that level of chaos and also has a thing for Excel, to design a more streamlined system that would enable me and my fellow managers to a) keep track of the monthly stats for our team and b) create meaningful(-ish) reports to justify our existence for the higher ups. In tech writing, a fairly uncreative definition of the stats usually means numbers of docs, pages, etc. That’s what our main superior was interested in (he was a numbers guy and didn’t care for modern nuances like quality, consistency, customer satisfaction) so that’s what we did.

Anyway, I digress. What I’m trying to say is that I used Excel – a lot. Now, on my home PC, I have Open Office and I also use Google Sheets. I like Open Office very much because it’s free open source. It’s not as easy for me to use as Excel, I think because I’m so familiar with the Excel interface. That’s just a learning curve. Functionally, I think it’s on a par but since I haven’t had the need to put it through it’s paces, I can’t say that sure.

Google Sheets, on the other hand, I mean please. It’s sooo basic! And slow. We have a 20MB connection here and it’s tedious just trying to format a cell. I’m trying to set up some really simple accounting spreadsheets and it’s painful! I know I could use OO but I really want these particular docs in the cloud as then they’re handy to share with my accountant and also accessible from any machine. It would seem the price for ease of access is functionality, unless I’m missing something. Anyhow, in the spirit of keeping things handy, here’s a link to the list of functions that can be used for calculations.

Google spreadsheets function list

I know I’ll need it again.

Now to figure out whether it can do pivot tables (I suspect not!) should the need ever arise again (I hope so! I have a rather love-hate relationship with them; mostly it’s love.)

Do you do fancy, clever spreadsheety things with Google Sheets? If so, please enlighten me!

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