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Spreadsheet Review

Simons Eusprig 2006 paper on reviewing spreadsheets is here, the slides are here.

We review spreadsheet models for technical quality and accuracy. We look for common mechanical errors, model inconsistencies, VBA and external factors, and general quality issues.

Our review cannot prove a spreadsheet is error free, but it will add significant comfort that the model's outputs are reasonable, and free from obvious error. Although we use auditing tools and methods, we review models from a quality approach looking for indications of a high or low chance of errors. This risk based approach can help focus on those models that have a higher chance of error, based on proven risk factors.

If a full audit requiring an extremely high degree of certainty is required then we recommend our partners F1F9 who offer a full workshop based analysis using business domain experts.

A key benefit of our review is up-to date, accurate, usable documentation. This can be useful for a management overview or for a new spreadsheet owner who needs to understand the previous developers work.

Our review also covers the VBA (or other automation) aspect of a model, and we form a view on the reliability of the code as well as the worksheet formulas.

We offer our review services on two basis:

1. No error - No fee (3-4 workbooks per day), (full report extra).

2. Standard Review - consulting day rate (roughly 1-2 days per workbook dependent on complexity), (full report included).

No Error - No Fee

Academic and commercial research indicates between 40% and 90% of live spreadsheets contain material errors. Visit Eusprig for more information and links to research papers.

The review focuses on the main types of common error rather than more general 'quality' issues. We aim to review 3-4 models in a day, at least one of which should contain a material error according to the statistics. If yours are better than the average, you get the reviews for free, if we find a material error in any of the models reviewed, then the normal day rate for consulting applies. A material error is defined as something that once reported is corrected. A short report is prepared with a list of queries and potential errors and issues. A full report providing useful documentation and more detailed analysis is available for additional cost.

The offer is open to any organisation in the UK, the models to review must be important and at least reasonably complex (the more complex the better). All review work is undertaken on-site under strict non disclosure terms. Due to the range of none standard tools and applications used, work is performed on a Codematic laptop running Windows XP and Excel 2003. Spreadsheets are deleted before we leave (unless full reports are required). We also have a simple tool to anonymise spreadsheets and take away much of the confidentiality whist leaving the logic. It's available for free download and is a simple .xla addin, that requires no install, and is effectively a workbook with some VBA code inside. For safety you should request your IT department download and test this tool before you use it.

Standard Review

The standard spreadsheet review involves informal interviews with the main stake holders, a review of existing documentation and a detailed analysis of the spreadsheet in question. The time required is driven by many factors, eg. quality, complexity, size so we can only provide a rough estimate. For a fairly complex 5Mb spreadsheet with several thousand unique formulas we would need approximately 1 day to review and 1 day to write up the report. A more accurate quote can be provided once we have seen the model. We would recommend use of our free anonymiser to protect confidential content.

The deliverables are a list of potential errors and areas for fuller investigation, a set of accurate, up to date, useable documentation and a list of recommendations for future developments.

All work is very likely to be carried out by Simon Murphy.

Please contact us to arrange a review.


Upcoming Events:

25 January 2012 - UK Excel Developer Conference - London

Products for sale:


Office 2007 FileSearch replacement logo

New information about the missing FileSearch feature in Office 2007 and details of our pragmatic solution (Current price GBP 30.00)


worksheet password remover logo

Instant Excel worksheet protection remover and password recovery (Current price GBP 15.00)

Classic Ribbon Tab

classic ribbon for office 2007 logo

Add Excel 97/2000/2002/2003 compatible menu structure to Excel 2007
(Current Price GBP 10.00)


Products coming soon:

Link Manager

(Find and control external links in Excel Workbooks)

Due by Q1 2111.

XLAnalyst Pro

(Excel VBA based spreadsheet auditing tool)

Due before the end of 2111.

This page was last reviewed on December 21, 2011

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