The Top Risks Lurking in Your Excel Spreadsheets

Excel spreadsheets aren’t just an occasional asset; they’re an all-the-time asset. You probably have at least a few spreadsheets open non-stop because the data they contain is instrumental to every decision you make. When something is ubiquitous, it should also be exceptional. So, can you say with confidence that all your Excel spreadsheets are in perfect order?

If the answer is no, don’t be alarmed. The truth is that spreadsheet errors are incredibly common, or at least they used to be. Formerly, we thought of spreadsheets as “static,” something that existed independently and could only be updated intentionally. Now, however, we have connected, “dynamic” spreadsheets that automatically integrate and update information.

Why We Love Dynamic Spreadsheets (And You Should, Too!)

Dynamic spreadsheets offer the same familiar features that people love about Excel. The only difference is that they remove the barriers between spreadsheets, allowing information to flow organically across documents and between platforms. For instance, tools like Spreadsheet Server, Atlas for Dynamics, or Wands automatically import ERP data so that you can create reports right in Excel.

Dynamic spreadsheets make reporting faster and easier by eliminating manual data dumps. Just as significantly, they make reporting more reliable by erasing the errors that inevitably end up in static spreadsheets. Those errors aren’t just typos; they’re risks with real consequences:

  • Bad Logic –  One formula error can invalidate an entire spreadsheet.
  • Bad Functions – You may be using the wrong built-in function if just one or two characters are incorrect.
  • Incomplete Copying – If all the information is not copied from one spreadsheet and pasted to another, it could be lost for good.
  • Bad Formatting – When information is simply shifted around, then bad formatting continues instead of being corrected.
  • Hidden Information – Information can be hidden in spreadsheets if users don’t know where to look for it, causing it to be omitted from decision making.

Each of these problems can have widespread consequences. To put this into perspective, an accountant at Fidelity once omitted a minus sign from a formula, leading to a $2.6 billion error. It’s tempting to blame Excel or the users who work with it the most, but that’s the wrong perspective on the problem.

Spreadsheets Can Still be the Solution

Reporting is a complex process. The more it relies on manual entries, the more it invites errors. Therefore, the problem is not with Excel itself but rather with how companies utilize Excel.

Rather than looking for a replacement, look for an upgrade. Solutions mentioned above like Spreadsheet Server and Atlas for Dynamics accentuate the positives of Excel while bringing its core capabilities into the 21st century. Instead of being used to manage data, Excel becomes a tool for exploring, leveraging, and utilizing data. Decision makers can feel confident acting on reporting, knowing that the underlying information has been optimized using automation.

Business tools shouldn’t cause you to stumble. If your spreadsheets are still static, they’re not living up to their full potential. insightsoftware is revolutionizing what spreadsheets can be, updating Excel for the next generation of business. When you’re ready to see what connected spreadsheets look like in action, just let us know.