IBM just published an article describing what they claim to be the top three spreadsheet errors of this decade—so far. Spreadsheets errors caused
- the sale price of Tibco Software to be overstated by $100m
- fatal errors in an oft-quoted fiscal austerity research project
- 10,000 sports fans to miss a synchronised swimming event at the 2012 Olympics
Some companies I work with have started taking real steps to get spreadsheet anarchy under control. But, there are still way too many organizations who have yet to even understand they have a spreadsheet addiction. I even know of organizations who are still authorizing the development of new business critical Excel applications within departments lacking any IT expertise.
As enterprise software challenges go, this isn’t a particularly difficult one to fix—technically. It’s more of a people problem. First, many managers don’t understand that having key business processes run via locally maintained spreadsheets is a huge risk. And, when they do, they find spreadsheet owners unwilling to relinquish control.
Like any addiction, admitting to the problem is the first step on the road to recovery.