Excel Holy Grails – The Backbone of Enterprise Operations

At any enterprise organization I have spent time at, one peculiar trend continues to persist. The people out there working on the nuts and bolts of a company – whether they be database architects, engineers, or HR folks, rely on rather interesting excel worksheets to complete their daily repetitive taks. I’m often surprised to see how many dependencies are present for an Excel workbook that has been around for many years – and continues to deliver value and save employees’ time. I consider these the ‘Holy Grails’ of Excel.

This fall I found myself in a position where I needed to map out entire network drives of a Fortune 500 organization, ultimately discovering the overall size and quantity of files for each folder. These network drives were accessed by thousands of people every day and contained gobs of data (think 10+ terabytes). The end goal was to itemize them into individual folders, organize the results, and analyze them for another task at hand (this part I won’t go into).

The first idea that came to mind was to build a crawler from scratch and let it loose on the network – probably not the best idea. Instead, a helpful network engineer introduced me to one of his ‘Holy Grails’ of Excel.  And in a matter of minutes I was on my way to mapping out the entire network.

I evaded several headaches, racking my brain on code for several hours, and more importantly I didn’t waste any of my time on this somewhat daunting task.  All of this was due to the helpful engineer that was willing to share one of his prized tools.

I’m interested in what other ‘Holy Grails’ of Excel are out there.  Tools like these are rare but I’ve seen these nuggets of gold play an integral part of many companies’ daily operations. Shoot me an email at dy.herman5@gmail.com if you would like to try out the workbook (I will be sure to include instructions) – I hope it can be as useful to you as it was for me.

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