Spreadsheets in the News

Microsoft's Excel Might Be The Most Dangerous Software On The Planet

Source: Forbes.com

No, really, it’s possible that Microsoft‘s Excel is the most dangerous software on the planet. Yes, more dangerous than rogue code running a nuclear power plant, than the Stuxnet that was deliberately sent off to sabotage Iran‘s nuclear program, worse, even, than whatever rent in the fabric of space time led to the invention of Lolcats. Really, that serious.

The Excel Depression

Source: NYTimes.com

In this age of information, math errors can lead to disaster. NASA’s Mars Orbiter crashed because engineers forgot to convert to metric measurements; JPMorgan Chase’s “London Whale” venture went bad in part because modelers divided by a sum instead of an average. So, did an Excel coding error destroy the economies of the Western world?

New Approach To Fixing Spreadsheet Errors Could Save Billions

Source: Science Daily
July 4, 2007 — Computer scientists at Oregon State University have created a new, much simpler approach to fixing errors in spreadsheets, a system that is easy to use and might help businesses around the world reduce mistakes and save billions of dollars.

The advances - which allow a non-specialist to identify and fix a problem by selecting from a short list of change suggestions -- were announced today at the International Conference on Software Engineering in Minneapolis, Minn. The new system, called "GoalDebug," is being licensed to a spinoff company in Oregon.

Spreadsheets, a standard bookkeeping and accounting tool used by businesses to track everything from payroll to accounts receivable, are one of the most common of all computer software programs. In the U.S. it has been estimated that 11 million people create about 100 million spreadsheets a year, which in turn might be managed by up to 60 million users. But they are notoriously prone to errors, experts say.

Financial modelling - is the government wasting millions?

Source: bbc.co.uk

Millions of pounds of taxpayers money could be saved every year if civil servants were not wasting time trying to decipher unnecessarily complicated financial spreadsheets, research suggests.

The difficult and often opaque task of financial modelling is vital for officials making decisions about how public money is spent on major infrastructure projects and procurement.

But a group of professional services firms - including Deloitte and Grant Thornton - estimate that Whitehall wastes as much as £70m a year because there is no agreed way to present this dense and labyrinthine data.

Modeling Problems in Excel

Source: bancpath.com

Even though the whole "London Whale" trading loss at JP Morgan last year made for great theatre, we largely ignored it here on the blog and in discussions with our clients. There are two reasons for that. First of all, a proprietary trading loss is not something community banks have to deal with. And second, the size of the loss was pretty small compared to the uproar it caused. Don't get me wrong, as that many zeroes is painful for anyone to absorb. But, it helps to put in perspective what that looks like to a multi trillion dollar institution. For a typical $250 million community bank, the loss would equate to somewhere around $870,000. Painful? You bet. Will it put you out of business? No way.

Eight of the Worst Spreadsheet Blunders

Source: CIO.com

Spreadsheet typos and oversights can wind up costing your company millions. Here's a look at eight big mistakes, and tips on how to prevent them from happening at your company.


CIO — Spreadsheet errors can happen to the best of us. As a result, many public companies and government organizations are trying to wean themselves off their reliance on spreadsheets for complex and critical financial transactions.

Of course, to achieve such a goal, organizations need all the help they can get. Most businesses today rely on spreadsheets in some way. The multi-celled document is used heavily for finance and accounting, as well as supply chain, customer relationship and sales functions.

However, recent financial regulations, such as Sarbanes-Oxley requirements, have had a huge impact on how companies manage changes and controls in financial documents, such as spreadsheets. Because of their preponderance and the amount of digital fingertips that can touch these documents, spreadsheets have come under a lot of fire. In particular, companies lack the appropriate controls and repeatable processes to mitigate the risks.