Top 10 Disadvantages of Spreadsheets

Fraudulent manipulations in company Excel files have already resulted in Billion-Dollar losses. The main underlying reason behind this spreadsheet vulnerability is the inherent lack of controls, which makes it so easy to alter either formulas, values, or dependencies without being detected.


Disadvantages of Spreadsheets - Kindle

Disadvantages of Spreadsheets

Comprehensive information and data your organisation needs, to circumvent the threats posed by spreadsheets.


Buy Now

1. Vulnerable to Fraud

Of all the spreadsheet disadvantages listed here, this is perhaps the most damaging. Fraudulent manipulations in company Excel files have already resulted in Billion-Dollar losses. The main underlying reason behind this spreadsheet vulnerability is the inherent lack of controls, which makes it so easy to alter either formulas, values, or dependencies without being detected.

2. Susceptible to trivial human errors

While fraud will always be a threat to spreadsheet systems, there is a more significant threat that should make you seriously consider getting rid of these outdated systems. And that is its extreme susceptibility to even trivial human errors. Missed negative signs and misaligned rows may sound harmless.

But when they damage investor confidence or cause a considerable loss of opportunity amounting to millions of dollars (Are we serious? Google up ?spreadsheet horror stories? to find out), you should understand that it?s time to move on to better alternatives.

3. Difficult to troubleshoot or test

So how about testing spreadsheets to mitigate the risks of items 1 and 2? Good luck. Spreadsheets just aren?t built for that. It?s not uncommon to have interrelated spreadsheet data scattered across different folders, workstations, offices, or even geographical locations.

Worse, even if you are able pinpoint the locations of every related file, tracing the logic of formulas from one related cell to another can take ages. It?s pretty obvious now how you?ll also encounter a similar problem when troubleshooting questionable data.

4. Obstructive to regulatory compliance

Combine items 1, 2, and 3, and what do you get? A big headache impacting regulatory compliance. There are number of regulations that have a serious impact on the use of spreadsheets.

Some of the many regulations that impact spreadsheet systems include:

And to think it looks like regulatory bodies are just getting warmed up. Over the last two decades, we’ve seen a surge in regulations that directly affect spreadsheet-based systems. Now, you tell me that you haven?t wished there was a better way to beat regulatory compliance deadlines. Well, if you?re still using spreadsheets, then there certainly is a better way.

5. Unfit for agile business practices

We’re now in an age when major changes are shaping and reshaping the business landscape. Mergers and Acquisitions, Management Buyouts, earthquakes, tsunamis, hurricanes, uprisings, climate change, new technologies, and so on. If your business is not agile enough to adapt to such changes, it could easily be left behind or even face extinction.

Spreadsheets are normally created by individuals who have not the slightest know-how regarding software documentation. In the end, spreadsheet files become highly personalised user developed applications. So when it?s time for a new person to take over as part of a large scale business change, the newcomer may have to start from scratch.

Read further about Implementing Large-Scale Business Change

 

6. Not designed for collaborative work

Planning, forecasting, budgeting, and reporting are all collaborative activities. In other words, plans, forecasts, budgets, and reports typically require information from different individuals belonging to different departments. In addition, the final documents are a result of multiple exchanges of data, ideas, and files.

Now, if your company?s offices are scattered throughout the country or if certain team members are separated by large distances, the only way to exchange data stored in spreadsheets is through email.

Experience will tell you that such a method of exchange is susceptible to duplicate and even erroneous data. Team members will tend to find it hard to keep track of similar files going back and forth, and sometimes even end up sending the wrong version.

7. Hard to consolidate

When it comes to simple data entry and quick ad hoc data analysis tasks, spreadsheets are highly favoured by end users. This has made them one of the most ubiquitous office tools on the planet. But as a consequence, data in spreadsheet-based systems are distributed throughout the organisation.

So when it’s time to generate reports, you’ll really have to go through a slow consolidation process. In most cases, end users would have to collect data from different files, summarise them, and submit the same to their department heads through emails, portable storage media (e.g. CDs or USB flash-drives), or by copying to a commonly shared network folder.

Department heads would have to undergo a similar process before submitting them to their own superiors. This has to go on until all the information reaches their organisation’s top decision makers. Throughout the entire consolidation process, data is subjected to numerous error-prone activities such as copy-pasting, cell entry, and range specification.

8. Incapable of supporting quick decision making

In a spreadsheet-based environment, extracting data from different departments, consolidating them, and summarising the information so that it could aid the company’s top brass in making sound decisions can be very time consuming.

And because we know how susceptible spreadsheets are to errors, everyone involved in the information processing has to be ultra careful to keep the integrity of the data intact. Hence it would be prudent to enforce double-checking as much as possible.

This extra but necessary exercise can further delay the process. So, when the final information arrives at the hands of the top executive, he may not have much time to work with. (Read about Business Intelligence)

9. Unsuited for business continuity

As mentioned earlier, data in spreadsheet systems are never kept in a single place. In fact, it’s the exact opposite. The worse thing about it is that they’re always in the hands of non-IT personnel, who are understandably not familiar with storage and backup best practices.

Thus, if a major disaster strikes, full data recovery can be very difficult if not impossible. As a consequence, even if the company has financial reserves, the absence of data (e.g. accounts receivable records, customer records, and inventory) to work on can prevent the company from making a quick restart.

10. Scales poorly

As an organisation grows, data in spreadsheet-based systems get more distributed; subsequently compounding the issues outlined above. It is absolutely not advisable for a large organisation to keep using spreadsheets.

 

More Spreadsheet Blogs

Spreadsheet Risks in Banks

Top 10 Disadvantages of Spreadsheets

Disadvantages of Spreadsheets – obstacles to compliance in the Healthcare Industry

How Internal Auditors can win the War against Spreadsheet Fraud

Spreadsheet Reporting – No Room in your company in an age of Business Intelligence

Still looking for a Way to Consolidate Excel Spreadsheets?

Disadvantages of Spreadsheets

Spreadsheet woes – ill equipped for an Agile Business Environment

Spreadsheet Fraud

Spreadsheet Woes – Limited features for easy adoption of a control framework

Spreadsheet woes – Burden in SOX Compliance and other Regulations

Spreadsheet Risk Issues

Server Application Solutions – Don’t let Spreadsheets hold your Business back

Why Spreadsheets can send the pillars of Solvency II crashing down

 

Advert-Book-UK

amazon.co.uk

 

Advert-Book-USA

amazon.com

 

Contact Us

  • (+353)(0)1-443-3807 – IRL
  • (+44)(0)20-7193-9751 – UK

Check our similar posts

Recognizing Your Carbon Footprint

Countless times we have heard of the term ?carbon footprint?. Perhaps we have seen and heard it on TV or read it in newspapers, magazines and published articles. Indeed, it has been an expression familiar to everyone as it is always associated with climate change, carbon emissions, global warming, pollution and other environmental issues. Carbon footprint is real. It exists and, in fact, continues to affect the world we live in.

Defining Carbon Footprint

Two essential words comprise the term carbon footprint. Fundamentally, ?carbon? means the carbon dioxide circulating in the atmosphere. It is also the general word used for other greenhouse gasses emitted into the air. On the other note, ?footprint? refers to impact or effect.

Think about the footprints people leave on the beach sand upon walking on the shore. That is exactly what carbon footprint is like. It’s about the impact humans leave on the earth in the form of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases.

Calculating Your Personal Carbon Footprint

The food we eat, products we use, vehicles we ride on and electricity we consume emit carbon dioxide. In fact, our activities, lifestyle, homes, and countries contribute to climate change. And carbon footprint is the best estimate we can get of the full impact our doings affect the earth. It quantifies the amount of our carbon emission. With this, knowing how to calculate your personal carbon footprint is important.

There are various standards in calculating one?s carbon footprint. There is the so-called ?lifestyle assessment? and the input-output analysis. Lifestyle assessment works by adding up all the feasible emission pathways while the input-output analysis involves determining the total emissions of a particular country, dividing it by the carbon-emitting sectors and estimating the overall emissions of each sector. The input-output analysis makes sure that no emission pathway is missed out.

Calculating your carbon footprint manually is an effective way for you to understand your emissions better. You just need a lot of patience to learn how each footprint is generated. Moreover, there are also several resources online that can help you calculate your carbon footprint. Online carbon calculators are abundant across the web. To make your life simpler, you can opt to try those online calculators and easily determine your carbon emissions. However, such calculators vary in scope. So make sure that the online carbon calculator, you choose, is one that?includes emissions both direct and indirect.

Avoiding Toe Prints

A toe print is a portion of a footprint. Sometimes, people are misled in their calculations because they only get a carbon toe print instead of a footprint. The idea is that, you should cover a smart scope of your carbon emissions. Not only measuring a portion, but the whole.

Say for example, running a conventional car. The carbon emitted from the car is not only the fuel combustion from the diesel or petrol.? Likewise, the carbon released as the gas was processed and transported to your nearby gasoline station is also an addition to your carbon footprint. If you do not understand this, you will end up calculating your direct emissions while neglecting the indirect ones.

Be wise in calculating your carbon footprint. And when in doubt, whether you are an individual or a business entity, you should seek help from experts who can do it right.

Contact Us

  • (+353)(0)1-443-3807 – IRL
  • (+44)(0)20-7193-9751 – UK
Renewable energy – Is it a common man’s cup of tea?
I came across an article on a young graduate in renewable energy engineering. The fellow was doing technical sales and marketing jobs for renewable energy products though he felt that as a graduate, he ought to be doing more than just sales. His, sentiments, I can relate with but again thinking about the field of renewable energy, how many people understand what it is, its importance/ benefits, how to acquire it, its installation, costs etc.?Renewable energy is energy generated from natural resources. The renewable energy sources include sunlight, wind, rain, tides, geothermal heat and various forms of biomass. These sources are renewable naturally and continuously replenished, therefore this energy cannot be exhausted. Renewable energy technologies range from solar power, wind power, hydroelectricity/micro hydro, biomass and bio-fuels for transportation.Back to the aspiring young professional who felt that his place in the renewable energy sector lies in doing strategies and coming up with new products-the advice fronted to him was that doing technical sales is the best job for engineers, as it helps them impact on users of their products. Sales entail interacting with customers and knowing their needs so that the product features can be enhanced to suit the customer?s needs. Now, that is brilliant and accurate advice. It is however important to take into consideration that renewable energy is not a common man?s cup of tea and right now the focus all over the world is to build green economies.To me the need for more and more people to understand the benefits, savings and cost of renewable energy cannot be overemphasised. Effort should be made to keep marketing of renewable energy products/ services simple and conversational by avoiding use of acronyms or jargon explaining about operational details. More impact can be made if a marketing rather than technical sales approach is used. Technical sales have been described as boring (can be used as a sleeping aid), tends to use extensive vocabulary, jargon and acronyms that product users cannot relate with and tends to discuss the products technical aspects as opposed to the benefits to the customer. Fun should be created out of all this by making things simple and demonstrating cost savings and benefits of renewable energy.
The General Data Protection Regulation & The Duty to use Encryption

The General Data Protection Regulation, abbreviated to GDPR, raised a storm when it arrived. In reality, it merely tightened up on existing good practice according to digital security specialists Gemalto. The right to withhold consent and to be forgotten has always been there, for example. However, the GDPR brings a free enforcement service for consumers, thus avoiding the need for third party, paid assistance.

The GDPR Bottom Lines for Data Security
Moreover, the GDPR has penalties it can apply, of the order that might have a judge choking on his wig. Under it, data security measures such as pseudonymisation (substitution of identifying fields) and encryption (encoding including password protection) have become mandatory. Businesses must further respect their client data by:

a) Storing it in a secure environment supported by robust services and systems

b) Having proven measures to restore availability and access after a breach

c) Being able to prove frequent effectiveness testing of these measures.

The General Data Protection Regulation places an onus on businesses to report any data breaches. This places us in a difficult situation. We must either face at least a wrist slap upon reporting failures. Alternatively, pay a fine of up to ?10 million, or 2% of total worldwide annual turnover.

The Engineered Weak Link in the System
Our greatest threat of breach is probably when the data leaves our secure environment, and travels across cyberspace to an employee, stakeholder, collaborator, or the client themselves. Since email became open to attack, businesses and individuals have turned to sharing platforms like Dropbox, Google Drive, Skydrive, and so on. While these do allow an additional layer of password protection, none of these has proved foolproof. The GDPR may still fine us heavily, whether or not we are to blame for the actual breach.

How Hacking is Approaching Being a Science
We may make a mistake we may regret, if we do not take hacking seriously. The 10 worst data hacks Identity Force lists are proof positive that spending lots of money does not guarantee security (any more than having the biggest stock of nuclear weapons). We have to be smart, and start thinking the way that hackers do.

Hacker heaven is finding an Experian or a Dun & Bradstreet that may have shielded 143 million, and 33 million consumer records respectively, behind a single, flimsy cyber-security door. Ignorance is no excuse for them. They should simply have known better. They should have rendered consumer data unreadable at individual record level. The hackers could have found this too demanding to unpick, and have looked elsewhere.

How Data Encryption Can Help Prevent Hackers Succeeding
Encrypting data is dashboard driven, and businesses need not concern themselves about it works. There are, however, a few basic decisions they must take:

a) Purge the database of all information held without explicit permission

b) Challenge the need for the remaining data and purge the nice-to-haves

c) Adopt a policy of encrypting access at business and customer interfaces

d) Register with three freemium encryption services that seem acceptable

e) After experimenting, sign up for a premium service and be prepared to pay

Factors to Consider When Reaching a Decision
Life Hacker?suggests the following criteria although the list is a one-size-fits-all

a) Is the system fast, simple, and easy to operate

b) Can you encrypt hidden volumes within volumes

c) Can you mass-encrypt a batch of files easily

d) Do all other files remain encrypted when you open one

e) Do files automatically re-encrypt when you close them

f) How confident are you with the vendor, on a scale of 1 to 10

It may be wise to encrypt all the files on your system, and not just your customer data. We are always open to a hack by the competition after our strategic planning. If we leave the decision up to IT, then IT, being human may take the easy way out, and encrypt as little as possible.

Contact Us

  • (+353)(0)1-443-3807 – IRL
  • (+44)(0)20-7193-9751 – UK

Ready to work with Denizon?