Risk Integrated, a consulting firm focusing on risk measurement for specialized finance, participated in the recent seventh annual conference of the European Spreadsheet Risk Interest Group (EuSpRIG). Discussions at the EuSpRIG conference, held in Cambridge, UK, at the University of Cambridge, showcased the impact spreadsheet risk assessment can have on the medical, banking, and government sectors.
Some key findings presented at the conference include:
Â· Her Majestyâs Revenue & Customs (HMRC), one of the very first users of spreadsheet checking tools, announced that it has secured increased tax revenue from one in every seven tax spreadsheets tested. This is the first measurable instance of spreadsheet management reliably increasing an organizationâs revenue. HMRC also announced that it now assures Â£3 million of UK tax revenue for every employee hour devoted to spreadsheet testing. HMRC tactfully failed to disclose the incremental tax revenue per employee hour, however industry experts indicated that the figure was probably large.
Â· Sarbanes Oxley legislation is now being embraced by many firms including most banks and financial institutions, all of which are heavy users of spreadsheets. Few banks and financial institutions have implemented enterprise wide spreadsheet management systems, despite the known risks of spreadsheet error. This suggests that banks and financial institutions are not taking their legal duties as seriously as they should. There is evidence that people in the financial world are not yet fully appreciative of the critical role that spreadsheets play in the global financial system.
Â· Serious weaknesses were found in publicly available clinical spreadsheets. Poor practice, error-prone construction, lack of documentation, lack of evidence of testing, and few controls on data and structural integrity were encountered in the spreadsheets examined. Clinicians and Medical establishments who continue to use untested or badly engineered spreadsheets in a clinical situation are placing themselves and their patients potentially at risk.
Â· The presentation by Risk Integrated at EuSpRIG centred on the issue of non-programmers attempting to build mathematically complex and computationally-intensive spreadsheets in financial services environments, with few (or no) procedures in place for measuring spreadsheet accuracy or ensuring security. The Risk Integrated Enterprise Spreadsheet Platform (ESP), discussed at the conference, helps banks avoid the typical sources of spreadsheet risk by centralizing mission-critical spreadsheets within a secure and robust computational framework.
Yusuf Jafry, Founder & CTO of Risk Integrated, stated, âCritical developments have been made in the past year in the area of spreadsheet risk. EuSpRIG was an ideal opportunity to share and highlight these findings by industry leaders and for colleagues to collaborate to find advanced solutions. This event displayed great progress within the industry.â
Grenville Croll, Membership Secretary of EuSpRIG, stated, âThis conference was by far the most successful EuSpRIG conference to date. Awareness of the issue and the range of solutions to the problem have improved substantially since last year. The financial community and others are learning to appreciate the vital role that spreadsheets play in the economy and the need to actively manage spreadsheet risk.â