The constant pressure of changing operational requirements in any growing business often results in conscientious or inventive staff creating sub-systems to fill gaps or developing work-arounds of ways to get the information that management wants.
Often times this means an excess of manual gathering of data on paper forms and in electronic spreadsheets that may not be well vetted for accuracy or consistency. Spreadsheets are about as waste producing as the invention of Glad-wrap. They let you keep your old information system in the fridge long past it’s expiry date.
Over time, management may not notice the gradual expansion in consumption of staff resources from proliferation of such paper based systems at the coalface as they rarely go there. Nor do they want to get involved in minutiae: the detail processing steps and efforts required to get them their high level figures. When later they are dismayed to find certain figures are high or out of line… they then often fail to appreciate the time and effort required to dig back into manually compiled data, that may since have moved on or been changed.
Once spreadsheets and work-arounds become adopted, then also quickly get entrenched and difficult to dislodge. Often the worker involved doesn’t see the down-the-line duplication this can contribute to, let alone the risk of invalid calculations or un-validated data. The whole company can end up with a gaggle of these data-sets, each with conflicting codes for similar data that is difficult to combine into a consolidated picture.
This also often leads to risk of knowledge loss when these workers leave with the only intricate knowledge of how these work or what traps to avoid in data compilations.
Then once established as calf paths to information, these routes are passed down from generation to generation of successive users as the unofficial bible of what to do or how to do it.