Why Spreadsheets Don’t Work

Why Spreadsheets Don’t Work

By Carla Hartman | Adapt2 Solutions

When first interacting with the ISOs, many power market participants resorted to the trusty spreadsheet to submit bids and offers as well as review settlements information.  As the markets evolved and transaction volumes grew, it has become extremely difficult to manage their business with spreadsheets, much less maintain a competitive advantage.

Top 5 Reasons Spreadsheets don’t work:

  1. Watch the Clock” – Uploads, downloads, and analysis of data becomes very time consuming using a spreadsheet.  As more markets transition to sub-hourly settlements, the time required will multiply.   
  1. The “Fat Finger” – There is limited security, referential integrity, and error checking built into spreadsheets.  How many of us have searched for that one cell reference error that we could never find?
  1. We’re Going to Need a Bigger Boat” – Even when everything is in the spreadsheet, it becomes very hard to analyze due to the sheer volume of data.  
  1. An Episode of Hoarders – The day-to-day functions of the business become impossible to manage as the operational data of 120+ daily spreadsheets begins to pile up.
  1. I’m Not Touching That” – Due to the number of complicated spreadsheets, people become reluctant to analyze issues and optimize strategies – the lack of transparency can impact effort and performance.

A Power Trading Operations tool can help automate almost 100% of this functionality, allowing expertise to be focused on issues, performance, and optimization.  Retailers can reduce manual work by up to 90%.  Companies utilizing Enterprise Bid and Settlement tools are able to analyze real-time ISO data, intra-day P&L, and settlements information for strategic decision-making.  Interactions with the ISO that required hours of effort can be completed in half the time.  Some retail energy participants rely too heavily on their credit sleeves and spreadsheets, which can result in the company “leaving money on the table”.  Retailers unknowingly absorb these costs and do not understand how margin disappeared.  One northeastern energy retailer “found” over $30000 in lost revenue due to gaps in their current process – issues that were quickly revealed once a Power Trading Operations application was implemented.  Many ERCOT participants are utilizing systems instead of spreadsheets to analyze ERCOT 727 reports.  This is referred to as “Finding Power Money”.

Spreadsheets are great, and businesses need excel.  But once a company starts using a quality Power Trading application suite, there is immediate improvement in the ability to support business objectives in a timely manner.   

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Carla Hartman is Head of Marketing at Adapt2 Solutions