PraxIS June 2006

06-06 Contents: Software asset management, email retention, risk management attitudes, Software testing, Office 2007, Excel Compliance, Google spreadsheets

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Systems Modelling Ltd.: Managing reality in Information Systems - strategies for success  


1) Risk & Security
     Software asset management becomes an ISO standard
     Software asset management tempts salespeople
     Records management and data retention policies
     Individual differences in risk and uncertainty management
2) Software Testing
     Career Development for Software Testers, Rightsourcing
3) Spreadsheets
     Office 2007 Beta 2 available
     New Microsoft whitepaper on spreadsheet compliance and Excel
     World Cup Fever targeted by virus writers
     Are you tracking the Excel Knowledgebase?
     Eusprig 2006 Conference, Cambridge, UK, July 5-7, 2006
     Google Spreadsheets
4) Off Topic
     Newsletter on personal effectiveness
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Welcome to PraxIS

Summer approaches but conference activity grows more intense - maybe we'll meet at one of these events?

Patrick O'Beirne

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1)  IT Risk and Security

Software asset management becomes an ISO standard A new international standard has been produced to enable organisations to prove that they are performing Software Asset Management (SAM) to a standard sufficient to satisfy corporate governance and to aid industry and vendors with software compliance. 

Published by ISO (International Organization for Standardization) and IEC (International Electrotechnical Commission), ISO/IEC 19770-1:2006, Information technology Software asset management - Part 1: Processes will enable organisations to benchmark their capability in delivering managed services, measuring service levels and assessing performance.

Verification and compliance: covers the process to identify and record assets and match inventory to licences and associated processes like authorisation and calculating effective licence from underlying licences (upgrades)


Software asset management tempts salespeople

Auto Warehousing Co. told Don Tennant of Computerworld about Microsoft trying to pressure people into buying a software asset tool. AWC was contacted by Janet Lawless, a software asset management engagement manager at Microsoft, who claimed that "a preliminary review of [AWC's software licensing] information indicates that your company may not be licensed properly." She wanted to send a consultant to AWC to conduct an inventory of its installed software. The CIO, Dale Frantz, says he does regular audits and maintains extensive records of purchases, license keys and registration codes. Lawless countered that "our Software Asset Management (SAM) program is the only unbiased way to create an accurate baseline and resolve this matter." AWC's attorney, suspecting that Lawless' actions were part of an elaborate sales effort, basically told her to back off.


Records management and data retention policies  Morgan Stanley agreed to pay $15 million to settle a civil action brought by the US Securities and Exchange Commission for failing to produce tens of thousands of emails requested during SEC investigations from 2000 to 2005. It also agreed to adopt new staff training procedures on email preservation. The SEC claimed that Morgan Stanley did not diligently search for back-up tapes containing responsive emails until 2005, and it over-wrote back-up tapes, destroying at least 200,000 emails.


Book: "Governance Guidebook", by Fred Cohen A reference textbook for the Chief Information Security Officer (CISO)


Individual differences in risk and uncertainty management  Results of an online survey by Matthew Leitch, May 2006.

The experiment involved four imaginary situations, each with a list of five potential actions. Respondents had to rate each action on a scale from "Awful" to "Great" and say how certain they felt of each rating.

Matthew Leitch comments: "The most popular views on how to answer also tended to be the honest, open, objective, rational approach, but there were exceptions. It was also interesting to see how certain preferences correlated. For example, it's no surprise that a fondness for setting targets up front went with an interest in pushing people to rectify disappointing results, and went against shifting plans in the light of experience." Auditors tended to give answers further away from the principles than others and were particularly prone to concealing risks and exaggerating both good and bad news in pursuit of a reaction.


Book: "Perfect Passwords", by Mark Burnett "Perfect Passwords: Selection, Protection, Authentication", by Mark Burnett. A 181 page book on the weaknesses of most passwords and recommendations for choosing stronger ones based on length, randomness, a 'password day' for expiration, and passphrases.


2) Software Testing

Software Testers User Group meeting topics: Career Development, Rightsourcing

In the next SoftTest Ireland educational event, members will learn about career advancement through personal investment in testing and about outsourcing of testing services. SoftTest Ireland are delighted to announce that Julie Gardiner of QST Consultants and Declan Kavanagh of Insight will be the guest speakers. Attendance is free to all members and guests are welcome. To learn more about the speakers and topics visit:- To register to attend contact: admin at or 1850 75 25 75.

Wednesday, June 7 2006, 18.00hrs Venue: Holiday Inn Hotel, Pearse Street, Dublin 2

1. Testers are Doing it for Themselves! by Julie Gardiner
2. Rightsourcing ... by Declan Kavanagh


3) Spreadsheets

Office 2007 Beta 2 available

The second major test version of Office 2007 is now available to all as a 400MB download from

This is for bug fixing or market awareness, there will be no changes to the interface or features of Office.

Of course you'll also need to be sure your operating system is patched up to date too. There are some eLearning facilities on line, although I have not yet been able to install the offline MS elearning reader, it gives an error -5009.


New Microsoft whitepaper on spreadsheet compliance and Excel In a post on his Excel 2007 blog, Microsoft Excel team manager David Gainer drew readers' attention to a whitepaper available as a 730k Word download, "Spreadsheet Compliance in the 2007 Microsoft Office System". 

It summaries the regulatory drivers, gives the usual roadmap of "inventory - evaluate - implement appropriate controls". (To create an inventory, see my SCANXLS tool) It lists potential risks and control activities. Most importantly it recommends "3. Develop a Long-Term Spreadsheet Development and Maintenance Methodology" which is the focus of my book on "Spreadsheet Check and Control". It ends with a section "How the 2007 Microsoft Office System Can Help Address Compliance Challenges" that describes Sharepoint server 2007, Excel Services, Information Rights Management, and Workbook Encryption. To manage and monitor spreadsheet changes, it describes Enterprise Content Management in Office SharePoint Server 2007. However, there is no built-in capability to audit changes within spreadsheets individually.

The section "Developing Robust Spreadsheet Models" covers the frequently given advice of Cell Styles (although the interest example given is somewhat unfortunately chosen), Locking, Tables, Defined Names, and Formula auditing tools.


ScanXLS helps you get a handle on spaghetti linked workbooks  SCANXLS is my Excel utility to scan directories for spreadsheets. It fits the need mentioned above to create an inventory of spreadsheets. It also builds a cross-reference of their dependencies, and helps assess their quality. It is one of the very few link directory tools in the marketplace


Spreadsheet Check and Control: 47 best practices to detect and prevent errors Available worldwide from Amazon.  Our offer - free shipping to EU in June 2006.


World Cup Fever targeted by virus writers We're not safe from World Cup fever even here. Security experts have warned users about a virus that infects Microsoft Excel files under the camouflage of a fantasy football spreadsheet.


Are you tracking the Excel Knowledgebase?;en-us;919127 Q919127 Calculations may not occur in an Excel workbook that has many formulas when you use the Calculate method to calculate formulas or after you press SHIFT+F9 to calculate formulas


Eusprig 2006 Conference, Cambridge, UK, July 5-7, 2006 The Sixth annual conference and AGM of the European Spreadsheet Risks Interest Group ( ) theme is Managing Spreadsheets: Improving corporate performance, compliance and governance. The venue is Fitzwilliam College, University of Cambridge, Cambridge UK. The papers will be announced shortly. Bookings can be made at the UWIC web site.


Google Spreadsheets A new entry in the online spreadsheet field. More news stories on this. But you would not want to rely on a beta service, in case it goes down, like GMail.



Simply send your comments to FEEDBACK (at) SYSMOD (dot) COM

Thank you! Patrick O'Beirne, Editor

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4) Off Topic

Usually I put in some humour here, but this month I'll mention a more serious item, a newsletter by Rick Brenner on personal effectiveness that manages to be sensible and practical, avoiding pulp psychology.

Personal Effectiveness Point Lookout: Personal, Team and Organizational Effectiveness. The June topic is "If Only I Had Known -  Ever had one of those forehead-slapping moments when someone explained something, or you suddenly realized something?"


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