CommandmentsFrom the Not Just Numbers blog:

In earlier posts you’ve heard me talking about the ICAEW’s Twenty Principles for Good Spreadsheet Practice.

This is a set of principles that, if you apply them, should significantly reduce the problem of spreadsheet risk, as well as make your spreadsheets far more robust and efficient.

The principles are now officially launched (to an audience of around 200 people at an event at Chartered Accountants’ Hall in London on June 17th) and free to download (I’ll give you the link at the end of this post).

The principles themselves are the work of the ICAEW IT Faculty Excel Community Advisory Committee, of which I am privileged to be a member.

The principles in brief are:

  1. Determine what role spreadsheets play in your business, and plan your spreadsheet standards and processes accordingly.
  2. Adopt a standard for your organisation and stick to it.
  3. Ensure that everyone involved in the creation or use of spreadsheets has an appropriate level of know¬ledge and competence.
  4. Work collaboratively, share ownership, peer review.
  5. Before starting, satisfy yourself that a spreadsheet is the appropriate tool for the job.
  6. Identify the audience. If a spreadsheet is intended to be understood and used by others, the design should facilitate this.
  7. Include an ‘About’ or ‘Welcome’ sheet to document the spreadsheet.
  8. Design for longevity.
  9. Focus on the required outputs.
  10. Separate and clearly identify inputs, workings and outputs.
  11. Be consistent in structure.
  12. Be consistent in the use of formulae.
  13. Keep formulae short and simple.
  14. Never embed in a formula anything that might change or need to be changed.
  15. Perform a calculation once and then refer back to that calculation.
  16. Avoid using advanced features where simpler features could achieve the same result.
  17. Have a system of backup and version control, which should be applied consistently within an organisation.
  18. Rigorously test the workbook.
  19. Build in checks, controls and alerts from the outset and during the course of spreadsheet design.
  20. Protect parts of the workbook that are not supposed to be changed by users.
If you click here, you can read more about the committee and the background to the principles but, more importantly, you can download the Principles document itself, including examples and advice on application.

Just follow the link, and click on the link “Twenty principles for good spreadsheet practice” in the first sentence.

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