The client needed to compare different revisions to their of quotations (lists of furniture to be supplied for classrooms in new schools) and produce an adds & omits list.
The comparison was tricky, as the initial quotes listed items per room type (i.e. this is the furniture for a generic maths classroom) and subsequent quotes would list items per individual room (each maths room may have slightly different furniture) yet these had to reference back to their equivalent in the intial quote. There were also complexities on how products could be treated as equivalent if the change was minor.
The tool we developed allowed the user to pick two spreadsheets to compare, and write the output to a third spreadsheet, reducing a task which previously took hours down to a matter of seconds.
Parts of image blurred for privacy.
We set up a template system which allows the user to specify what to do with the columns (one is for quantity, one is for price, which need totalled etc…) This avoids the need to modify the tool should they change their quote format. It also transformed the tool into an all-purpose comparison utility that has been used for stock analysis and more.
Take home points:
- There are freely available tools for doing such tasks, but these necessarily work on quite a simple principle. It’s up to you to gauge how much time you would save by paying for a tool which does exactly what you need it to.
- It’s always wise to make applications configurable, this will help avoid future development costs as a result of minor changes, or different usage scenarios.