Spreadsheet training and consulting
Systems Modelling Ltd. provides training courses for best practice and accelerated productivity, and expert consultancy in spreadsheet modelling, model review and re-engineering, quality testing, and auditing. Contact us for more details.
Spreadsheet Links: for news and events, good design, auditing tools, mail lists, research on spreadsheet errors and quality, testing, risks, spreadsheets in accounting, business and financial modelling.
Book List of recommended Excel Spreadsheet and Financial Modelling books, with Amazon links.
Downloads: free software, VBA code, tools, examples, templates, utilities, Excel Tips.
Agile approaches to Spreadsheet development (article by Patrick O'Beirne)Reported problems with spreadsheet dependence are giving rise to concerns about spreadsheet quality. Because spreadsheets are being used as the basis for information systems, there is a growing interest in applying software testing techniques to evaluating the accuracy of spreadsheet models. My presentation places these techniques within the context of broader quality management and describes specific tools to assist the tasks. It has been given to the Irish Computer Society, Information Systems Security Association, and ISACA Northern England, contact me if you would like it for your own interest group or in-company purposes.
There’s an amazingly overlooked iceberg of problems in end-user computing. Spreadsheets are developed by people who are very skilled in their main job function, be it finance, procurement, or production planning, but often have had no formal training in spreadsheet use. IT auditors focus on mainstream information systems but regard spreadsheets as user problems, outside their concerns. Internal auditors review processes, but not the tools that support decision making in these processes.
Apart from the direct costs of mistakes, there are inefficiencies from less-than-optimal decisions being made on poorly constructed models, embarrassment and loss of reputation, and unwanted regulatory attention. In the UK, the public procurement process requires bidders to submit their models of the project costing — and those models are checked!
Are any important decisions made in your company supported by spreadsheets? Have these models been tested or reviewed? Do you have internal standards for spreadsheet development? We all know that people make mistakes. Yet end users and their managers have the confident belief that their work is perfect!
There are guidelines to assist in sound spreadsheet development, but you often won’t find them in books about spreadsheets, which focus on the technicalities of their operation. Recent spreadsheet applications are so laden with wizard tools that users believe all they have to do is find a function that will do the work for them without requiring any thought on their part. To counteract this, some company standards actually forbid the use of internal financial functions, requiring the user to explicitly code the calculations so that they can be checked. Even better, some require the models to be built for testability and auditability right from the start. So check with your users — do a random sample of their spreadsheets, inspect them thoroughly, and determine what training is needed based on what you find.
EuSpRIG - European Spreadsheet Risks Interest Group
Here is a list of their annual conferences:
2000 Inaugural Eusprig conference in the University of Greenwich
2001 The Free University, Amsterdam 5-6 July, my report is here.
2002 The University of Wales Institute, Cardiff 5-6 July, my report is here.
2005 Greenwich, London, England, July 6-8.
2006 Cambridge, England, July 5-7.
Spreadsheet Euro Conversion
Best practice in spreadsheet conversion (11K PDF)
For a list of free and commercial calculators and converters, see our euro conversion software tools page. One product, ConvertAll, has been tested and certified by Systems Modelling Ltd. to comply with the conversion and rounding rules of EC regulation 1103/97.
Spreadsheet Y2K issues
This "Year 2000" date problems page is maintained for archival purposes. Two-digit year issues still arise, so don't think they have gone away! Here's a report of somebody stumbling across this in March 2004 - they thought that 20/3/34 would get them 2034, when it actually gave them 1934: