Month: May 2024

AA Battery Test

On the way to a client training session today I considered walking to the train station, until I remembered a quick and easy NYC transit hack:

A website that lets you see the location of buses in real time, including estimates for arrival times. The best part is that this tool passed my AA Battery Test: it was both Accurate and Accessible.

Accurate because the bus was in fact less than 1 min away from my stop, and Accessible because it took me only a few seconds to find that out.

I have found that if you pass only one of these AA tests without the other, the net result is worthless.

Fortunately, this tool helped me make a better, more informed decision to catch the bus and save valuable minutes on my journey to my in-person client training session.

Turning to spreadsheets, there are a few tips to keep in mind with regard to the AA Battery Test.


  1. Leverage Formula Audit Mode (aka “Show Formulas”). This gives you a temporary view of all the formulas on your current worksheet, to help easily spot common errors and fix them.
  2. Include intentionally redundant formulas to perform the same calculation using a different approach, and check to see whether the two answers are equal. This is a great way to double check your work and help ensure you are getting the right answer.
  3. Stress test your spreadsheet to try and break it. For example, enter unexpected values into cells or try to interact with your spreadsheet in unexpected or unusual ways to see if it can handle it, and ensure you are still getting the right answers.


  1. Organize & structure your data well. Create backups and versions of workbooks, clearly label your folders, file names, sheet names, column headers, etc, and fundamentally lay out your data in the way Excel needs to see it. For example, for data tables always use columns as types of data, and rows as individual instances or records of that data across all the columns/data types.
  2. Format your spreadsheet well so it is free of distractions. Keep it Simple, Intuitive, Consistent, and Optimized (when it comes to formatting, be a “SICO”). I teach a 2 hour class just on this topic.
  3. Acquire and maintain a baseline of knowledge and skills to accomplish fundamental Excel tasks. In other words, be able to get what you need done, or at least know how to learn more. I also teach a multi-part class on the fundamental skills of Navigation, Formatting, and Formulas.

So the next time you find yourself working on an important spreadsheet project, ask yourself “Does this spreadsheet pass the AA Battery Test?”

If this helped you, I invite you to share the excel love with someone who could benefit from hearing it.

#mtaforthewin #excelaudit #intentionalredundancy #stresstest #excelorganization #excelwell #sharetheexcellove