Data Chaos Caused by Unmanaged Spreadsheets

Organizations today understand the value of accurate data. While most have clearly mapped out and documented the data flows into and out of the numerous corporate business systems, many – rather alarmingly – still have no visibility of the data flows from corporate systems into and out of spreadsheets.

This is causing data chaos and threatens the integrity of many business-critical processes.

Spreadsheets are out of control

Due to the flexibility and agility of spreadsheets, businesses often depend on them for reporting purposes such as final mile reporting, but also for complex financial modelling, as well as aggregation and manipulation of data. Due to unstructured and uncontrolled usage, spreadsheets are spiralling out of control. In an ideal world, a CFO would know the data sources that feed into the financial reports, and their providence.

The reality, unfortunately, is far less defined. The data links between the different spreadsheets across departments, regions and models are typically undocumented and as such impossible to view and indeed decipher.

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Technology can be the panacea

It’s crucial that businesses gain full visibility and an in-depth understanding of the information landscape. This includes the business systems and corresponding data flows, the spreadsheets and EUCs and their distinctive data flows, and ultimately the numerous potential risks they present, intertwined across the combined landscape.

Manually trying to understand these vast and complicated data landscapes that go beyond functions, departments and jurisdictions is an impossible task. On the other hand, by adopting a technology-led approach, organizations can automate the analysis of the data flows, identify the data lineages across the landscape, and continuously track and monitor the data usage via well-defined change management methods. This disciplined approach delivers greater quality, accuracy and integrity to the data being used by an organization, as well as the auditable transparency required by the C-suite.

An automated, best practice methodology to data and spreadsheet management is key to overcoming the business challenges posed by data chaos, and thereby mitigating operational, regulatory and reputational risk. When CFOs review their finance dashboards, they must have complete confidence in the figures and outputs they see and potentially present to their Boards.

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