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Joost Visser


Spreadsheets are software developed by non-professional programmers. They are used for accounting, project management, resource planning and many other business applications.

Often an individual will make the first version for his/her own use. When the spreadsheet proves useful, it is shared with others, and further developed to become a fully-fledged business-critical application.


Key points:

  • Spreadsheets are notorious for their sensitivity to errors.
  • Managers must be accountable for the way in which information technology is applied. This includes spreadsheets.
  • CIO's role is to identify and manage IT risks, but spreadsheets are usually not developed and managed by the IT department.
  • It would be easy to simply ban the use of spreadsheets.
  • However, such draconian measures would be unenforceable and would make an organisation far less decisive and flexible.
  • Critical dependencies on spreadsheets can be identified through reviews, and errors can be identified with analysis tools.
  • Redevelopment with a different technology can be considered for the most critical spreadsheets.
  • Responsibility for spreadsheet use must be placed with their owners. The IT department has a duty to support them.


2011, CIO Magazine, August, page 119

Full article

Spreadsheets: Swiss pocket knife or boomerang?