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Exorcising Spreadsheet Demons: A Halloween Tale about Digitization 

It was a dark and stormy night. A Canadian electricity transmission company lost $24 million by bidding on unnecessary transmission routes. The reason? A simple spreadsheet error as a result of a copy-and-paste Excel mishap. 

Digital Transformation

Want another scary tale? On yet another dark and stormy night in 2005, a large U.S. manufacturer suffered a severance error due to a typo in a spreadsheet. This mistake caused the company to overpay an employee by $11 million. 

The Frightening Reality 

Within too many organizations, evil spreadsheets lurk in the shadows, threatening to haunt businesses. This is particularly concerning given the speed and volatility of business in today’s global economy, where accurate and efficient data management is critical. 

According to one Forrester Consulting study, nearly one in three organizations use 10,000-plus spreadsheets regularly? Only 19 percent are actively addressing their risk exposure, with over one in ten unclear on how to tackle spreadsheet-based challenges. 

Manual spreadsheet processes drive frightening learning lapses, compliance challenges, and safety hazards. Employees may enter data incorrectly, fail to follow compliance guidelines or overlook potential risks. These human errors can have serious consequences, resulting in financial losses, reputational damage, or even physical harm. 

Spreadsheets are not a scalable solution for managing large amounts of data. They are difficult to keep accurate, prone to errors and can be easily duplicated, leading to version control issues. Spreadsheets are also not secure because they can be easily shared and distributed, increasing the risk of unauthorized access, data breaches, and compliance violations. 

The Not-So-Scary Truth 

There is hope in the form of automation and digitization, which can banish spreadsheet demons for good, and bring much-needed order to the often chaotic and complex compliance and regulatory landscapes. 

Fewer manual tasks can lead to reduced errors. For instance, Robotic Process Information (RPA), commonly referred to as “robotics” or “robots” has been shown to deliver critical benefits such as improved compliance, better quality, and higher productivity levels. For instance, between 85 percent and 92 percent of leaders in firms that adopted RPA believe their workers have been freed up to focus on more strategic tasks due to automation. 

With 50 percent of all work capable of being automated, digitization is a powerful tool. Consider that workflow and robotic automation can identify and respond to phishing attacks up to 70 percent more efficiently. And over one in three small- and mid-sized businesses say workflow automation sparks a decline in data entry errors. 

Instead of relying on spreadsheets, organizations should securely store data in a safe and centralized repository. This digital process offers advanced security measures, such as encryption and access control, to safeguard data from unauthorized access. 

When using integrated platforms, data across the enterprise can be automated to flow directly into the centralized repository. This improves the integrity of data, increases efficiency, and allows employees to focus on more strategic activities. 

Digitization can improve compliance efforts by generating alerts and automating communication. Error-prone manual tasks like generating reports can also be automated and communicated to appropriate stakeholders. 

Final Thoughts 

As organizations embark on digital transformation journeys, they should prioritize burying their spreadsheet-reliant strategies. Don’t let spreadsheet demons scare you this Halloween. Embrace automation and digitization to create a safe and compliant work environment. 

How SAI360 Can Help 

Easily manage risk and visualize compliance gaps with SAI360’s market-leading intelligence and analytics solutions. Make quick, informed decisions to optimize your risk and compliance program with up-to-date dashboards for key metrics. 

Give your organization the power of embedded, advanced analytics to create custom reports that drive business insights and predictive models. 

Click here to schedule a virtual coffee with one of our team members and learn more about how our integrated solutions can help your organization thrive via automation and digitization. 

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