Taking back control of your Excel assets is more critical than ever. If, like in most organisations, the number of spreadsheets has been growing unchecked, unmanaged, and unsupported, then the likelihood of organisational liability is high.
Some potential key risks to your organisation:
- Enterprise reputational risk
- False external submissions
- Failing to be compliant with regulations
- Failing in responsibility to shareholders
- Enterprise risk management failure
- Misleading data leading to bad decision-making
- Lack of evidence, or indecipherable data, for compliance & audit
The above list creates a plethora of negatives for your business, both internally and legally, but this does not have to be the case.
Part of the problem stems from the high levels of familiarity your employees have with Excel. After more than two and a half decades, it’s a staple of the office workers toolbox. In that time, there is inevitably a significant turnover in all levels of the team, rendering a lot of legacy and knowledge gaps in what is residing on the organisation’s network. Excel’s incredible functionality is both its main strength and vulnerability. Many employees create their own proprietary tools specific to their needs, which commonly lead to errors, duplication and a proliferation of redundant spreadsheets. While most organisations employ strategic systems for key processes, many are slow to evolve and react to change, making the importance of proper spreadsheet management even more critical.
As we become more reliant on data for decision-making and regulatory compliance, gaining comprehensive visibility, control, and transparency is more crucial than ever, and can be achieved more cost effectively than most organisations realise. There are numerous examples of Excel errors negatively impacting organizations and countries in the millions and some cases billions of dollars. It’s a risky strategy not to be in control of Excel assets.
Addressing the issues
When someone starts training for fitness, there is an initial up front effort, and then they need to ensure the practices are in place to maintain the standard. The same is true of gaining real management and governance of EUAs (End User Application).
The solution is to apply the tools and techniques to achieve clearly defined goals.
One size never fits all
There are several key areas where symptoms need to be addressed. First, you need a complete audit to give you an accurate insight of where you currently stand. Exposing the criticality, timeliness, and complexity of the assets, especially their dependencies on other resources, is key. Understanding all the key roles connected to any assets, such as business owners, developers and output audience is fundamental.
We can use this clear picture to start the simplification process in an appropriate way. This usually involves steps such as decoupling data, calculations, and presentation layers, while simplifying data flows by removing proprietary code and opening up nested formulas. This leads to implementing standardisation and consolidation. It’s important to maintain the same level of consistency throughout, which requires guidelines, training, and support for all relevant personnel. Many key guidelines are counterintuitive, so it’s essential to ensure everyone has a solid grasp of what they need to do moving forward.
Appropriate and tailored security and protection process to ensure the data is open to flow but the risks are managed.
Once everything is in place, utilising version management and reporting frameworks provides assurance to maintain governance going forwards. Your organization probably already owns licenses to suitable options, which can save you investing in expensive proprietary solutions.
A cost effective solution that works
EDGE is our solution. It provides cost savings, quality assurance, and effective governance.
It delivers on a number of different levels. It’s relatively inexpensive and quick to implement.
It’s not just a software solution that produces overwhelming output and doesn’t address the core underlying quality issues. It covers every aspect of your setup.
The benefits of EDGE
While the benefits of this approach vary according to organisational structure, these are some of the general benefits you can expect:
- Governance, control, and transparency
- Low TCO (total cost of ownership)
- Assists mitigating unknown risks
- Assures quality
- Proactive not retrospective
The way ahead…
EDGE will provide you genuine management and confidence over yours Excel assets. It will greatly reduce the number of spreadsheets, so you’re left with only the relevant data. This is then organised into a much more manageable system, which includes processes to mitigate errors, save time, and helps ensure all regulatory requirements are met.
When you operate in such a dynamic environment, it’s crucial your tools are agile and accurate. 4Front has consistently and successfully helped organisations to maximise what they have for the lowest cost.