Today I started realising how beneficial it is to follow a set of standards in your work, especially when there have been some company standards set (even if your manager doesn’t insist on you following them).
Yesterday I began building a spreadsheet to collect and compare competitor data. My manager sketched out an example of what he wanted the output to be, but left the design and technical part to me. At some point in my first month, I’d happened to spot a company template for Excel files, and I’d noticed using templates mentioned in the onboarding material. When bringing this up with my manager, he reassured me that following the templates wasn’t too important, but I gave it a go anyway.
Shortly after I started using the templates, I followed the PwC courses on Coursera and they strongly advocated the use of standard templates and having a standard format for reports and Excel models. With that advice and having seen some guidance towards templates, I felt even surer that I should be using them.
With this spreadsheet I started building yesterday, I began with my own version of the company template, with some custom adaptations of course, and ensured each new sheet I added followed the same design principles at the very least.
Admittedly, building to a certain standard every for every single new piece of work does add some extra time, so it may be difficult to see the value in this. However, when finally presenting the results to my manager today, by following the template I had overdelivered on his expectations!
Having a standard design and following certain guiding principles in your work can make it much easier for other people to recognise and appreciate what you’ve put together. It also makes future handover simpler than it would be otherwise, as if you have a standard cover sheet and brief or guidelines sheet in everything you do, others will always have a familiar place to start.
My underlying work is getting progressively better, but using templates from the beginning has meant that in terms of presentation my work is already scoring quite highly, and that’s worth the extra 10-20 minutes of thoughtful setting up in the beginning.