Wrong Excel Formulas Cost a Company 3 Years of Pain and Resignations

BY Jules Dalmacio Articles

Wrong Excel Formulas Cost a Company 3 Years of Pain and Resignations

Marlene worked with a company for 6 years. The first couple of years, she did not think anything of the yearly targets; they seemed reasonable—ambitious, yes, but reasonable. In the years that follow, targets have also grown, but so did expenses and sales & production can’t keep up. For a very hardworking employee pool, this felt like a dead end chicken-egg dilemma.

“So in our company, we try to give raises and bonuses depending on if every department hits the required yearly financial target,” says Marlene, an HR for a digital marketing firm. “Our targets adjust for inflation also, so that every new fiscal year, we’re trying to hit a higher target. The targets, I think they look reasonable but some of the sales and advertising team think that it’s way too much. Also, our expenses seem to grow bigger by the year even if we’re only minimally hiring, mostly to replace a few resignees.”

It has been 3 years since the company has hit any fiscal target. “Lahat, sinubukan na namin (we’ve tried everything). We’ve given freebies to so many clients to close deals, we’ve focused on client retention for longevity, we removed some employee benefits pa nga(even) like rice allowance and perfect attendance bonus.” And because targets weren’t being hit for 3 consecutive years, annual performance raises were also not being awarded to otherwise exemplary employees.

Taon taon(year after year), it’s always about the increase. Kasi pinaghirapan naman talaga namin ‘yun(because we all worked hard for that)” She shares that even managers are baffled. Everyone is putting in the work, giving extra time, and even doing shifts for free. Executive management also recognizes the effort but every year end review is punctuated with how the company is below expected targets.

Neen knows a lot about finances because the administrative team is a small group of 5 people which includes 2 HRs, 2 Finance Officers, and their Administrative Manager. Finance is always coordinating payroll funds (or lack thereof) to HR and HR is always forwarding funding requests to finance. For a company of more than 50 people, they have big burdens to balance on their shoulders.

Nagstart na rin mag reklamo ‘yung employees (the employees have begun complaining) to their managers. With the uncertainty if there will be increase and reinstated benefits, the managers no longer have bargaining powers with the employees na din(any more).” The number of employees itching to resign grows at an alarming rate. Because the employees are very close to each other, some are applying for new work as a clique and so are resigning in the same way.

After the annual year end review this year, resignations have only been coming in. For the strategic planning for the upcoming years, the production manager asked to review the Excel file where all the targets are set forth. This file was built and kept by the admin head and deputy general manager. This was reviewed in front of all the managers as well as admin.

With eyes on the projected table, there it was: the faults in the formulas. “’Yung isang formula sa disbursement naka multiply imbes na add (one of the formulas for disbursement had a multiplication operation instead of addition) and another formula for targets had an exponent that was not supposed to be there.”

“After that, hindi alam ng other managers ang iisipin(the managers didn’t know what to think). Were those really mistakes, or was there more going on behind the file, like laundering? Kasi hindi biro yung unaccounted na amount(Because the unaccounted amount is no joke).”

The first time that the managers had access to the Excel file, they saw the problem right away. By then however, it was already too late—3 years too late. Resignations have been filed and executed, and money has gone out to who knows where.

It’s already a given that it is so easy to make mistakes when using Excel files. In Marlene’s case, it would seem that Excel was used meticulously to do wrong. Because the platform does not have collaboration, secure sharing, and updating, there was only one version of the “truth” and it was a version that went unchecked for a long time.

Marlene has also since left the company and is now working for an air conditioning installation & repair supplier. She’s on the 3rd week of her Salarium free trial as of this article’s writing where her team is mostly using the system to track on site time-ins and time-outs of their field personnel.

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