Monthly Archives: April 2011

New Site Feature: Spreadsheet Page Dialogue

Excelville has added a new feature on spreadsheet landing pages that allows spreadsheet seekers to communicate more easily with the spreadsheet author and among themselves. The site has always given spreadsheet purchasers the ability to rate and provide comments on spreadsheets but only after purchasing. Recently, the site has added open dialog functionality that allows anyone who is registered to the site to ask questions, provide comments, or simply engage in open dialog directly on the spreadsheet's landing page. This way, authors coiuld narrorate a discussion around thier spreadsheet or inquisitors could read through the thread and possibly find answers to questions they have before downloading. This addition should help buyers to better understand the value in the product, help the seller to better communicate and engage their customrs, and help with page indexability. Check it out for yourself at Excelville!

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Excel Workbook Comparison Spreadsheet

For those of us who are lucky enough to get to perform tedious and detailed comparisons between Excel workbooks, we know just how much fun this can be [sarcastic smile]. At some point, we have to evolve away from doing things manually that machines can do effectively just fine. And sometimes the machine can do it faster and more accurately than any one of us can do it manually. Until recently, I had no idea that an Excel spreadsheet could be designed to conduct comparative analysis between 2 Excel workbooks. This could be a great tool for auditing and other very necessary (and sometimes evil) tasks. This week, there was a spreadsheet posted to Excelville called “Excel Workbooks Comparison” spreadsheet by Excel-Power-Utilities. This tool allows you to compare data between worksheets in seperate workbooks using cell-by-cell analysis. It has some built in flexibility to let you do a few other really cool things. Check it out for yourself at Excelville!

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Ingredients of Winning Spreadsheets

Excelville has been operating for a few months now and some trends are starting to develop around what types of spreadsheets perform well on the site. The selection of spreadsheets (both paid and free) is growing but I'm seeing certain types go quickly while some others don't seem to be getting much attention. So I've decided to create a short list for characteristics of spreadsheets that sell against those that don't.

Spreadsheets that sell:

1 – Highly specialized: If you're thinking about selling spreadsheets, consider offering something in an area that you have particular and valuable expertise. Think niche in this case because these are the types of spreadsheets that are extremely difficult to find on the web and can be difficult and time-consuming to build from scratch. An example is the plant downtime tracking system from Max Performance.

2 – High level of functionality and practicality: The higher functionality should be applied to make the user experience easier and not to confuse the user. If you're going to offer a very common spreadsheet like a budgeting spreadsheet or grocery list, make sure yours has some advanced level funcitonality that would be difficulty to match by a novice or intermediate user. People aren't going to pay for something they can easily get for free  or create themselves.

3 – Well thought out description, screenshots, and video: The first thing people tend to do if a spreadsheet doesn't sell right away is lower the price. This is a mistake. The first thing you should do is try to do a better job communicating the value in your spreadsheet through the text, screenshots, and a video if you can put something decent together. Spreadsheet sellers that take the time to put their best presentation forward tend to do better in the marketplace.

Spreadsheets that don't sell:

1 – Common spreadsheets with a low level of functionality: These spreadsheets offer little more than formatting and simple calculations. These types of spreadsheets can be easily found for free on the web or created from scratch with minimal effort.

2 – Ineffective spreadsheet design: People don't buy into spreadsheets that intimidate them. They would rather go for the one that looks "easy" to use and understand. Keep the learning curve low and make the spreadsheet do most of the work for people.

3 – Ineffective descriptive text: No one is interested in a spreadsheet if they don't understand what it does. Be clear and help the user understand the benefit of using the spreadsheet. Stay away from acronyms or industry slang. Use simple language unless you need to do otherwise in order to explain the function of the tool.

Stay tuned for more tips and advise on how to create and sell winning spreadsheets.

Good Luck!

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Spreadsheet Idea: Overtime Reduction Tracker

A great way for a manager to reduce costs is to effectively track and reduce overtime. This task can be very difficult for many reasons but the having right tools can take at least some of the headache out of the equasion. I once had a task on my annual performance objectives to reduce overtime in my department by 15% by the end of the year. Not an unreasonable objective, but almost impossible without an effective overtime reduction and tracking tool. This thing made the task pretty easy because it helped me see where my opportunities were and all I had to do was schedule accordingly. I no longer have this spreadsheet but just thought that it would be a great resource for any other manager would like to reduce overtime, which I imagine wouldn't hurt any manager's performance evaluation. If you are up to the task, feel free to create one and upload it to Excelville.com. I'm certain that others will find it an invaluable resource.

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Free Continuous Improvement Project Charter

A new project idea is one of the most exciting parts of any job. It just has so much potential. Its the chain of events after the project is initiated that determines if that potential is ever realized or not and to what degree. Way too many good projects fall apart in the crucial phases because of the avoidable problem of inadequate planning up front. Overlooking key details such as resources required, timing, identifying key stakeholders, or solidifying the business case can lead to project disaster at some point down the line, usually after time, money and other valuable resources are already wasted. This is why a nifty spreadsheet that challenges you to think through all of these things can really come in handy. One example of such a spreadsheet is called a Project Charter. In this tool, you create a document that summarizes all of the key information associated with your project, lists out your team members, and lays out the project scope and procedure. There was recently just such a spreadsheet added to Excelville called the "Free Continuous Improvement Project Charter" by Max Performance. It is designed with Continuous Improvement Projects in mind but can be easily modified for any project where the key details and objectives need to be clearly communicated. Check it out for yourself on Excelville!

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Free Continuous Improvement Project Charter

A new project idea is one of the most exciting parts of any job. It just has so much potential. Its the chain of events after the project is initiated that determines if that potential is ever realized or not and to what degree. Way too many good projects fall apart in the crucial phases because of the avoidable problem of inadequate planning up front. Overlooking key details such as resources required, timing, identifying key stakeholders, or solidifying the business case can lead to project disaster at some point down the line, usually after time, money and other valuable resources are already wasted. This is why a nifty spreadsheet that challenges you to think through all of these things can really come in handy. One example of such a spreadsheet is called a Project Charter. In this tool, you create a document that summarizes all of the key information associated with your project, lists out your team members, and lays out the project scope and procedure. There was recently just such a spreadsheet added to Excelville called the "Free Continuous Improvement Project Charter" by Max Performance. It is designed with Continuous Improvement Projects in mind but can be easily modified for any project where the key details and objectives need to be clearly communicated. Check it out for yourself on Excelville!

Sell | Share | Download Spreadsheets on Excelville.com

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