88% spreadsheets have errors

By Ian Yates,  Managing Director at Barcanet

Companies large and small spend countless hours every month developing, amending and updating the spreadsheets that measure performance and drive strategic decision-making.

So it’s critical the data contained and output generated by these spreadsheets is timely, simple and above all, accurate.  But is it?

Although spreadsheets have proven themselves as useful productivity tools for many years, they are poorly suited for managing the disparate and sizeable data produced by the modern business.

Errors are common, even with experienced users - the more data sources, the more formulas, the ‘larger’ the spreadsheet, the greater the chance for small errors to be magnified.

We have all experienced ‘version numbering’ issues and outputs that don’t match as changes are made and ‘master’ spreadsheets not updated.

Exposing organisations to significant levels of risk.

According to experts, there are three primary error types;

  1. Mechanical error – inputting, typing, copy/paste errors which may appear small but can fundamentally impact the integrity of the entire model as the complexity of the spreadsheet grows
  2. Logic error – flawed calculations generated from inappropriate or incorrect formulas and algorithms
  3. Omission – one of the most common and most difficult to spot errors is where data is simply not incorporated in the first place

So what is the better way?

In recent years, a new type of business analytics software and service has surfaced. 

Platforms that readily digest huge amounts of data, across different sources, in multiple formats - centralising and ‘normalising’ data.

They contain powerful analytics tools, allowing users to configure reports relevant to their roles. Most extend to visualising the insight in simple dashboards. Some embed workflow processes and collaboration tools enabling users and decision makers to make quick, simple and effective data-driven decisions.

All without a single spreadsheet being produced.

These tools are available for every size of business. Whether you require enterprise-wide solutions driven by in-house analyst teams or bespoke functionality bringing insight to your operational KPIs, there is something available.

What are the key benefits of using these platforms and services over spreadsheets?

  1. Data integrity – single ‘truth’ of accurate data to make decisions from
  2. Breadth of data – increased data for more informed decisions
  3. Value - Powerful analytics for insights generating competitive advantage
  4. Speed – live insights accessible anytime, anywhere
  5. Efficiency – saves hours preparing immediately out-of-date spreadsheets
  6. Collaboration – enforce the power of teamwork
  7. Scalable – from bespoke requirements to enterprise-wide initiatives
  8. Simplicity – analytics in the hands of users – no need for teams of analysts