Spaghetti applications

An all-too-common type of spreadsheet is what I call a spaghetti application. The term stems from the fact that the parts of the application are difficult to follow, much like a plate of spaghetti. Most of these spreadsheets begin life as a reasonably focused, singleuser application. But over time, they are passed along to others who make their own modifications. As requirements change and employees come and go, new parts are added and others are ignored. Before too long, the original purpose of the workbook may have been forgotten. The result is a file that is used frequently, but no one really understands exactly how it all works.

Everyone who's involved with it knows that the spaghetti application should be completely reworked. But because nobody really understands it, the situation tends to worsen over time. Spreadsheet consultants make a lot of money untangling such applications. I've found that, in many cases, the most efficient solution is to redefine the users' needs and build a new application from scratch.

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