Spreadsheets are mad, bad and dangerous to know! They can be used for multi-million dollar frauds and can result in losses and lawsuits of similar proportions (see www.eusprig.com) that derive from the errors and flaws that are commonplace within spreadsheets. And then there are the additional auditor's fees that you have to pay because of the proliferation of spreadsheets and because they are difficult to audit. At the same time, Sarbanes-Oxley and other regulations mean that you can go to jail if you do not properly audit and manage your spreadsheet environment.
But that is only the start of the problem, for even if you decide to get a handle on your spreadsheet mayhem there are still a significant number of products to be considered, which take a widely different approach to managing spreadsheets, and are available at widely different prices.
This report not only describes the problems that arise from uncontrolled and unmanaged spreadsheets but also discusses the various solutions that are available and the circumstances in which they will be most appropriate.
This report will have four major sections:
1. A discussion of the issues that are involved with spreadsheets and their management, notably with respect to security, change tracking and auditing, control (who can do what), errors and fraud.
2. A discussion of the types of technology one would like to see used, whether that is for preventing fraud, discovering existing spreadsheets and their relationships, automating the development of spreadsheet applications, error detection in formulae and so on. This will segue into a discussion of the different types of tool that are available.
3. A detailed discussion of each of the vendors and products included in the report, with a description of their features and potential benefits. These will range in length from something over 1,000 words to around 3,000 words, depending on the scope of the products.
4. A comparison of the various products on an apples versus apples basis. This will have three categories of offering: auditor's tools, control and compliance tools, and automation tools.
The vendors that will appear in this report include Actuate, Cimcon, Compassoft, Cluster7, Lyquidity, Mobius, Prodiance, Qtier, Sheetware and Spreadsheet Advantage. I also expect to include Risk Integrated, Spreadsheet Detective and Spreadsheet Innovations. Further, I have invited Balenz Software and Operis to be involved but neither company has (to date) responded to requests for information so a detailed evaluation of these products may not be possible, in which I will include a rather briefer outline of their capabilities, based on what I can glean from their web sites.