Best practices for using spreadsheets as BI tools

Spreadsheets are almost inescapable, and most BI tools that promise to remove them actually generate more spreadsheets (or at the very least different spreadsheets than the ones they claimed they could get rid of). Boris Evelson keeps this in mind as he writes this blog post pointing to a few ways to manage – not get rid of – spreadsheets in your business. One tip is to categorize how important the spreadsheet is, and whether it needs to be strictly controled, if so: If a spreadsheet does fall under one of the strict policy categories, you may want to use the tools I just mentioned and other means to enable logging, audit trails, backup / recovery, disaster recovery and other operational risk procedures. For example, if such a spreadsheet uses enterprise standard formula for, say, gross margin calculation, and you notice that someone changed that formula, it’s probably a red flag that needs to be investigated. He also suggests, if hiring BI vendors, to choose those that are able and willing to work with your spreadsheets and itegrate their processes with them. This will ultimately make your spreadsheets more easy to control and active, decreasing the chance that they will become archaic with information or filled with incorrect data.

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