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Thursday, July 18, 2019

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Opinion > EUC+

Reducing operational risk — start with your spreadsheets

Rebecca Lambton-Heys, business development executive at EUC+ | 13:15 Friday 28th June 2019

Organisations are risking significant financial losses and reputational damage by failing to take control of their spreadsheets.

Spreadsheets are indispensable for many business functions, including financial reporting, ad-hoc analysis and data tracking. In addition, spreadsheets such as Excel make up a large portion of a business’s shadow architecture — software programs or systems that operate outside of the main IT department. They are flexible, easily updated and can do many things for many people. And therein lies the problem. Flexibility is a positive when it works well, but also an opportunity for problems when it doesn’t.

Businesses are under constant pressure from all angles to keep costs low, retain key personnel and ensure financial compliance. Keeping track of their spreadsheets and reducing the chances of operational or financial risk is essential if they are to survive. One of the main concerns is the complete lack of awareness around the role spreadsheets play within many organisations. It’s quite simple: the more people that access a spreadsheet, the higher the chances of errors occurring.

The key is to develop and implement an effective spreadsheet compliance framework and attestation policy which not only helps ensure regulatory compliance, but also reduces or prevents fraud, accidental errors or misreporting and demonstrates best-practice spreadsheet risk management. As well as outwardly acting as a kind of ‘Hey, look at us. We’re doing things right’, it will also provide assurance to the board that the issue is being taken seriously.

Spreadsheets, which can also be referred to as end-user computing tools (EUCs), are referenced in a series of financial regulations. Failing to approach the issue correctly may not only lead to substantial financial losses and fines, but also serious reputational damage.

To address the issue, we have developed EUCplus, a customisable tool that reduces operational and business risk by registering, scanning and securing all business-critical data (usually within spreadsheets) into one simple process. The key benefit of our process is that it provides an executable policy which not only ensures compliance now, but also future-proofs your business against further compliance-related issues.

Believe it or not, by focusing on what appears to be one single area of your business, you are in fact doing more than just reducing risk and ensuring compliance. You are future-proofing your business by providing a clear attestation framework that can be used as a benchmark for future developments and helping maintain a top-class reputation.

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