Beware the Spreadsheet

Microsoft sought to change the world of data organization in 1982 with the release of the computer software, Multiplan. Things, however, didn’t begin as smoothly as they hoped. Lotus, one of Microsoft’s competitors at the time, beat their market share with their own program, leaving Multiplan out to dry. After countless revisions, Microsoft’s Multiplan became the game-changer known as Excel, and, without it, the world of business would not be the same. Nearly every industry uses data-rich spreadsheets in one aspect of company operations or another; however, a recent study found that up to 94% of internal spreadsheets had errors. Therefore, beware of the spreadsheet.

Spreadsheets can be useful for everything from simple budgeting to complex data analyses. Unfortunately, flawed data means flawed results, which can lead to some pretty major issues down the road. This leads accountants (or those muli-hat-wearing employees doubling as accountants) to the question, "why is so much data so flawed?"

The answer lies in self-governing internal departments lacking a check-system. This can be especially true for entrepreneurs and business owners who are managing part or all of their own company finances but don’t have the resources for someone to check their spreadsheets.

So, what’s the solution?

In any regard, proofing your spreadsheets can be an invaluably important process. However, it isn’t always easy to find someone to sort through hundreds of line items to verify their accuracy.

Taking your time and checking your information as you go is one method of ensuring accuracy. Another is blocking your data entry time and then reviewing smaller blocks of spreadsheets at a time so you don’t have to check the whole file at once. Outsourcing your books to professional accountants in Reno is another great option to ensure your books are being kept accurately. Excel changed the game of the business world forever, and for the better. Don’t let foolish mistakes keep your company from the success it deserves.