Cimdata Logo

Neues

Mittwoch, Dezember 13, 2017

Spreadsheets: How Much of a Problem Are They?

Written by 

BlogIt is often said that MS Excel is by far the most widely used engineering tool on the planet, and I suspect that is true. But, there are many concerns over proper management and governance of spreadsheets.

In CIMdata’s engagements with clients, usually in product engineering, we find that spreadsheets are pervasive and entirely unmanaged. They belong to individual users, and are freely shared. There is no way to track changes, and no metadata information to describe the provenance or suitability.

Some companies have elaborate spreadsheets that are used to support critical up-front decisions on product configurations. At others, spreadsheets are applications that invoke macros and scripts, and even other applications. Often, there is no governance for spreadsheets that contain data such as material properties.

CIMdata has various recommendations to confront this situation. They are generally to establish governance procedures, and to use content manager applications to provide metadata, change control, traceability, and the like.

There is a new NAFEMS effort to look at this issue, and then to make recommendations on how to better manage the kinds of information usually contained in spreadsheets. They are starting with a survey:

The Use of Spreadsheets in Engineering - https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/spreadsheetsmanagement

Please do take 15 minutes or so to answer their questions.

The perceived problem with spreadsheets is that they are unmanaged, uncontrolled, and not traceable. (The allure is that they are unmanaged, uncontrolled, and not traceable.*) No, seriously, spreadsheets are a great tool for the democratization and the empowerment of ordinary users due to the very low cost of ownership and ease of use, but they have grown to fill critical and important functions in many organizations, often with disastrous consequences. Even aside from the built-in bugs (such as the century leap year bug and the zero date difference between PCs and Macs), there are legions of stories where spreadsheets have been misused, often intentionally. Estimates of mistakes in (hidden) spreadsheet formulas and calculations are surprisingly high.

So, what to do? Please help NAFEMS to start their assessment and then formulate recommendations by completing the survey.

Let me know what you think!

Keith

* In my opinion, this is intentional. The allure (by design) of personal devices is their openness and accessibility. IBM (at least the PC people) and Microsoft fully intended to empower the users and break the rigid constraints of mainframe computing. The unfortunate result has been unmanaged tools and a myriad of security holes. On balance, CIMdata believes the technology is still a good thing but it is time to get a handle on this important tool and the copious amount of business-critical information it contains.

 

Keith Meintjes

Email Diese E-Mail-Adresse ist vor Spambots geschützt! Zur Anzeige muss JavaScript eingeschaltet sein!
ipad background image

Featured Cimdata Reports

ipadcontent
PLM Benefits Appraisal Guide

CIMdata’s PLM Benefits Appraisal Guide is designed to help potential PLM users evaluate the applicability and payoffs of PLM in their enterprise, and to help existing users of PLM monitor the impact it is having on their product programs.

ipadcontent
AEC Market Overview Report

The CIMdata 2017 AEC Market Overview Report presents CIMdata’s detailed analysis of the Architecture, Engineering, and Construction (AEC) market.

ipadcontent
PLM Market Analysis Reports

The PLM MAR Series provides detailed information and in-depth analysis on the worldwide PLM market. It contains analyses of major trends and issues, leading PLM providers, revenue analyses for geographical regions and industry sectors, and historical and projected data on market growth.

ipadcontent
PLM Market Analysis Country Reports

These reports offer country-specific analyses of the PLM market. Their focus is on PLM investment and use in industrial markets. Reports cover Brazil, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Russia, South Korea, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

ipadcontent
Simulation & Analysis Market Analysis Report

This report presents CIMdata’s overview of the global simulation and analysis market, one of the fastest growing segments of the overall product lifecycle management market, including profiles of the leading S&A firms.

ipadcontent
CAM Market Analysis Report

This report presents CIMdata’s overview of the worldwide CAM software and services market. It also includes a discussion on the trends in the CAM industry and updates on the top CAM solution providers.