Art of Being Cheap: DIY Software

For years and years I’ve played around with trying to create an Excel-based accounting system. Here’s what I’ve learned: DIY is at best functional but is almost never user friendly. Few if any have the time and skills to build a good system that is usable by anyone but the creator.

Does that mean you should never try to create your own system? No! In fact, I often build templates to share with folks. I even put together another version of my Excel-based accounting system (linked below). Keep this in mind: besides the time you’re spending to create, you need about an equal amount of time for:

  • Polishing: You’re going to need time to make it look nice. You’re also need to make it easy to use. A lot of times when I build a spreadsheet, I highlight the cells that people need to fill in. Sometimes I lock the ones I don’t want changed.
  • Documenting: This is the least enjoyable part of the creative process. You either spend your time documenting (writing instructions for use), or you spend twice as much time answer the same questions over and over again.

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