Spreadsheet Risk – Technologies that help mitigate spreadsheet risk – Part 4 of 5

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This article is the fourth in a five-part series exploring spreadsheet risk, the challenges it presents and ways to protect your company’s resources and reputation.

Despite the number of data breaches discovered every day, spreadsheets are often overlooked as a potential breach source because management doesn’t know or take the time to understand their vulnerabilities. Spreadsheet data is integral to companies’ decision-making processes, and spreadsheet risk management is a strategic imperative that should be incorporated into enterprise financial and digital transformation initiatives.

However, in a recent Forrester Consulting study on spreadsheet risk commissioned by Incisive Software, entitled, Think Spreadsheet Risk Isn’t a Threat? Think Again, nearly a third of survey respondents noted that management doesn’t recognize this risk, underscoring the fact that C-level executives are making decisions based on data assumed to be accurate but that can contain errors.

Businesses that have an enterprise-wide spreadsheet management platform reduce risk

For businesses that have already adopted a spreadsheet management platform, however, the results have been positive. Not only have they experienced an improved ability to meet audit and compliance requirements, but they also have experienced reduced risk exposure and improved data quality. The results are informative:

– Half (50 percent) reported that the quality of their data had improved so they were able to make smarter decisions with greater confidence for optimal outcomes.
– Almost half (47 percent) reported that their compliance efforts improved, too. They found they were better able to meet their audit and regulatory compliance reporting mandates with less effort and more accuracy.
– Another 42 percent reported improved transparency of spreadsheet errors, itself a valuable asset to any spreadsheet-reliant enterprise. Losses and failures can be avoided by understanding where spreadsheet errors occur and catching them before they can affect the entire organization.

The study revealed other benefits enjoyed by companies that adopted a spreadsheet management platform to manage spreadsheet risk:

– Another 40 percent enjoyed increased team productivity, which naturally occurs when each team member is working with the same accurate information.
– About one-third (31 percent) reported they had greater data confidence, enabling them to make better business decisions.
– Almost one-third (29 percent) stated they reduced their operational costs, in addition to reducing their risk levels, after adopting the technology.

A modern, automated approach to managing spreadsheet risk

Today’s automated spreadsheet management technology is designed specifically for managing the complexities of spreadsheets across multiple risk points. When asked what they look for in the technology, respondents reported:

– Well over half (57 percent) want the programming to represent a low total cost of ownership, which would include ongoing maintenance, easy upgrades when needed, and continual innovation to maintain both business and regulatory currency.
– Over half (56 percent) want easy integration with their unique work flow.
– About half (52 percent) want it to be designed with end users in mind to ensure ease of use and easy adoption. This is crucial to truly managing risk.
– Over one third (36 percent) want it to be adaptable to incorporate virtually every organizational configuration, so there would be no need for custom development for any individual company or process.

Spreadsheets are fundamental financial and business tools used in every industry, and they also fuel critical business decisions across the enterprise. The Forrester Consulting research shows that businesses that have adopted enterprise-wide spreadsheet management platforms have improved their data quality and have reduced risk exposure.

Today’s spreadsheets are complex, and their vulnerabilities are often hidden from even experienced eyes. Accurate data builds accurate business decisions – without a strong foundation in correct and trustworthy data, executives can be misled. To learn more about how your company can begin to mitigate spreadsheet risk, download the Forrester research study today.


About Diane Robinette

Diane RobinetteDiane Robinette is President and CEO at Incisive Software, a company helping risk executives reduce exposure in critical business and financial processes. Prior to Incisive, Diane served in executive and senior level positions at companies including BroadVision, Contivo (acquired by Liaison Technologies), Covigna (acquired by ProQuest/Snap-on), Perfect Commerce and Proximex (acquired by Tyco). She also held management positions at KPMG and EY. Diane believes that by taking a modern and automated approach, risk teams can move towards a risk resilient posture that allows them to anticipate and reduce exposure, no matter what is thrown their way.