Monday, July 12, 2010

Those Dumb Things That Really Irk Me

Today I get an email from someone claiming our database is giving her incorrect numbers.

She points out that there are places where 3 or 4 or even 5 companies are showing the same number on certain line items. Let's say, for example, that Endeavor, ENI and Exxonmobil are all showing that the repair and maintenance expenses were $2MM. Okay? Why is that? Keep in mind that those two companies do not proceed or succeed each other in the database. Both alphabetically and peer-wise they aren't together. There were 3 or 4 instances like this in the data run the client sent.

I went into the database and pulled the numbers myself. I pull the same companies, the same metrics, and the same time periods. In the example listed above, Endeavor had the $2mm maintenance cost and Eni and ExxonMobil had no reported numbers for those years.

It seemed to me that whoever downloaded this information simply copied the Endeavor information into the blank cells below it onto the spreadsheet. I don't know why this person did that. Maybe it was just some clueless intern who then handed the spreadsheet to the horrified analyst.

It just gets my goat that this was clearly not an error of our database and just someone using Excel incorrectly and I get huffy emails asking how reliable our database is. The hardest part was pointing this out more diplomatically than I'm doing in this blog!

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