“THE DEVIL IS IN the details” refers to a catch in the details of a process or task.  This term can be used in many instances to mean that the small things in a tasks are the ones that make the process challenging.  These small tasks or details prolong a task, thus ensuring it is not completed as quickly or easily as originally anticipated.  In addition, the term can also be used to sound caution or be used to explain an obfuscation in a small task.  In this instance, the term connotes small steps in a task that are hugely important.  If any of the small steps go wrong, then the whole task would be unsuccessful.  This scenario is mainly witnessed in creating financial projections or any other linear plan that results in a “final answer” that depends on several variables that are all created independently and rely on one another. For instance, if one number or figure is wrong or out of place, it will affect the whole report.

Consequently, using this term in such a scenario seeks to encourage bookkeepers or CEO’s in such an instance to exercise caution as he or she progresses with the calculation.  As seen above, the term may also be used to explain why a task took too long to complete.  In such a scenario, the individual may argue that he or she had not allocated enough time to complete the task. This is due to the fact that the individual may have not factored in the amount of tasks in the process or the complexity of each task.  Often, things like financial projections, government paperwork, and business or marketing plans take exponentially more time to complete than originally anticipated, especially if you’ve never written one before. 

Commonly, individuals argue that by hurriedly completing the task, they might have been forced to do the task again.  In other instances, individuals may use this term while he or she is looking at an agreement or a contract.  At first glance, the contract may appear to be okay, but a deeper glance into the details may signify problems in the content.  People drafting or signing such documents are encouraged to pay very close attention to the details.  Looking at small details in various aspects of business is very important as it reduces surprises that may come about by overlooking some details or underestimating their complexity.

While trying to control the course of things so as to achieve a certain outcome, there are a number of ways which an individual may handle this.  For starters, the individual may opt to let the process flow naturally.  This is also known as the ‘go-with-the-flow’ theory.  In this scenario, the individual lets things progress naturally, not caring what the outcomes are.  The individual hopes that the devil will not appear in the details and is not advisable unless you can afford to lose money, customers, or your business altogether.  The second approach involves flexibility and creativity on the part of the individual.  In this instance, the individual goes out of their way to ensure that things transpire as planned.  This approach is also known as the ‘trial-and-error’ approach.  However, it is worth noting that this approach consumes a lot of energy.  

The bottom line is that in business, things can sometimes be more complex than they originally appear. As current or prospective business leaders or entrepreneurs, this matters to you because time is money. While the devil in the details is sometimes unavoidable, this makes contingency plans and a solid financial foundation for your business all that more important, because if you run out of money, you just ran out of time to make more of it.