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Spreadsheet competency: it’s all about context

31 July: Technical Manager of ICAEW’s Excel Community David Lyford-Smith explains how clear talking and common language around spreadsheet ability can help us realise where we still need training and how we can improve.

In our series so far, we explored why spreadsheet risk is such a persistent issue facing organisations today, and how small best-practice improvements can help to reduce it. Links to other pieces in the series can be found below.

I’ve written a weekly Excel bulletin for the past seven years, covering hundreds of distinct topics. How have I been able to keep going so long? Because I am always learning new things. I know that there is still much more that I can learn, too.

And this is the essence of why it’s so hard to talk about spreadsheet ability – when I say I’m an expert, or somebody else says they’re an intermediate user or a beginner, what do you imagine those words mean? I know plenty of full-time Excel junkies in the financial modelling space who have never created a PivotTable, and Pivot super-users working in AP that don’t know how much about writing functions. It’s all about context.

This is why we created the Spreadsheet Competency Framework – an open-ended system for classifying people’s spreadsheet knowledge. It has four simple levels and can be freely used and referred to by anybody. But you don’t have to be a recruiter or dusting off your CV to use it – it can be a great guide for self-improvement. ICAEW’s Excel Community offers a great range of blogs and webinars – and much of it is labelled with the appropriate competency level.

This article is brought to you by the ICAEW Excel Community. Excel Community membership gives you access to exclusive premium content including webinars, eight suites of Excel online training, regular eBulletins and extensive online resources focused on technical and soft skills to support your career. For more information about Excel Community membership, including our latest joining offer, please visit www.icaew.com/joinexcel

Read the other articles in the series: