Despite all of the technology advancements, excel spreadsheets are still widely used by business users to create stand alone databases that allow them to merge external and internal data for reporting and analysis purposes. There are many reasons why this occurs, however; fundamentally it is because the business user does not have a viable alternative. They use spreadsheets because
they do not have a choice. Spreadsheet reporting exists because:
1. Not all decision making data is accessible, centralized or formalized
2. Business users lack alternative tools to create and share their reports
3. Business users lack IT support to access their data in a timely manner
The lack of access to a BI tool that supports spreadsheets as a data source and the lack of IT priority assigned to managing the spreadsheet data issue contribute to the continued use of spreadsheets as a reporting tool.
As a result organizations put themselves at tremendous risk when basing decisions on spreadsheets that are recognized as being prone to error and are limited in many ways. Risks include:
1. Lack of regulatory compliance
2. Lack of data governance & data quality
3. Delayed access to data for decision-making
4. Lost productivity
5. Dependency on the spreadsheet gatekeeper
In this whitepaper we explore why spreadsheet reporting is pervasive. Why is it that business users continue to rely on spreadsheets for so much of their reporting needs. In addition we will explore what the ramifications of spreadsheet reporting are, including the risks and issues that it poses to organizations and what steps can be taken to mitigate these.
Beyond that, we analyze why Business Intelligence solutions need to accommodate spreadsheet reporting. Spreadsheets do provide very real value to an organization but the cost and risks need to be minimized.
This can easily be achieved with the appropriate BI tools, corporate governance and common sense. In this we will focus on the technology that has to underpin spreadsheet management within an organization, and what is involved in adopting Business Intelligence with spreadsheets as a data source.
Spreadsheet reporting can be managed, and utilized to the best of its abilities. This white paper will explore these issues in further detail.