Was Your Last Update More Recent Than An NHS Spreadsheet

The NHS. Britain’s National Health Service. A sacred cow in the country.

The pride being that it is available to prince or pauper, from cradle to grave, and is “free”.

Yet none of this spin holds true.

Genuflection at the altar of widespread mediocrity is mind boggling. Not only to the rest of the world, but a growing number of frustrated domestic ‘customers’..

The joke is that of the top twenty health systems, the UK’s is 21st.

Given the way the annual rankings are formed (with misleading definition and weight given to the value ‘access’), even that is a few places too high.

This week’s shameful embarrassment concerns the contact details of 16,000 positive coronavirus test results go missing.

Lost because of an old Microsoft Excel spreadsheet.

Reports differ as to exactly how old the Excel version is. Staggeringly, it must be at least thirteen years old.

For those familiar with Excel, it was still using xls format. Superseded in 2007 by xlsx.

Such increased capacity allows for over a million rows. The release still in use in UK public sector health administration offers a relatively paltry 65,000.

Leading to the loss of such vital data when extra rows input were not saved.

[The exact circumstance being that the infection recorders sent a csv file (somehow orientated by columns over rows) to their siblings at Public Health England. The practically limitless original file size could not be handled by the old xls format in use there, chopping off all those vital patient details.]

Leaving aside the debate whether a consumer spreadsheet is the apt tool for a job of such industrial scale and significance (spoiler, it is not) what organisation uses anything that is from the start of the century?

Emblematic of an outfit in utter decay. Excellence a pipe dream. Individual abdication matched by systemic managerial failure.

You’d struggle to find an office elsewhere with even a chair that old. Let alone a piece of critical tech.

Which begs the question, how often are you upgrading your key systems?

Refining, remodelling, replacing?

Every period, every deal practically, should see some degree of course correction. Even if you remain steadfast on the same path, it tends only to be for that fleeting moment.

You can think of the leaps in Sales over the past thirteen years. But think about just the last thirteen weeks.

Video call explosion, buyer budget freeze and the lid being put on funnel hoppers are all immediate fresh challenges wreaking rapid seismic change in our world.

You can react in part by taking heed of the latest luminaries’ sector thinking.

Never a bad thing. Many a decent idea can then be plugged into your process.

Yet the real impact is from acknowledging that everything is up for grabs.

Whatever the number of elements that underpin your selling, nothing is now sacrosanct.

There may well be only a dozen or so.

Time for a check.

Any the equivalent of thirteen years old are not the only ones that may well need a rethink.

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