The Spreadsheet Safety Belt

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Software quality expert Patrick O'Beirne, in his new book "Spreadsheet Check and Control," puts comprehensive controls on spreadsheet development firmly into the hands of the end-users who create the models. If spreadsheet users had a driving licence, this would be their seat belt, air bag, navigation aid, repair kit, hazard indicators and the rules of the road.

Systems Publishing ( shall publish in late September "Spreadsheet Check and Control", ISBN 190540400X, a 200-page book with 47 key practices to detect and prevent errors in spreadsheets.

Ray Panko of the University of Hawaii, the most cited authority on spreadsheet error research, said enthusiastically, "It's super. I kept saying to myself, 'Wow, I didn't know you could do that.' A great job."

Why is this book important? Well, did you know that the European Spreadsheet Risk Interest Group (EuSpRIG) now has over seventy reported news stories of million-dollar costly and embarrassing mistakes with spreadsheets? ( )

Ciaran Walsh, senior finance specialist, Irish Management Institute, said of the book 'It is excellent. I am embarrassed when I think of the shortcuts I generally take with spreadsheets and I have often paid the price. I think it will become, and it should be, required reading for all young trainee accountants'.

With the current focus on corporate compliance, such as the US Sarbanes-Oxley section 404 requirements, business readers want to know how to apply better internal controls on financial reporting, most of which depends on accurate spreadsheets. By empowering end users to check their own work, this approach can be described as internalized controls.

Jim Kaplan of the auditor's portal said in his review 'Spreadsheet Check and Control does what no other book before has attempted to do; provide standards for designing spreadsheets that lend themselves to a logical review by management and internal auditors.'

Readers can learn how to:

    Present results with more confidence knowing that they have checked for errors

    Create spreadsheets faster by avoiding wasted time from lack of specification

    Increase efficiency by avoiding rework

    Reduce worry about costly and embarrassing mistakes

    Discover powerful formula auditing techniques

    Foil attempts to conceal data and formulas

The organization they work for can therefore:

    Reduce compliance costs for businesses in regulated sectors

    Be able to demonstrate management of material risks

    Increase controls on spreadsheet based financial reporting

    Ensure data quality and accuracy

    Protect against formula and operational errors

About Systems Publishing

Systems Publishing is a division of Systems Modeling Ltd, Ireland, with the aim of producing high-quality publications for the computer user and professional audience.


Villa Alba, Tara Hill,

Gorey, Co. Wexford, IRELAND

Tel: +353 (0)55 22294

Fax: +353 (0)55 22165

About Patrick O'Beirne

Patrick O'Beirne Bsc MA FICS provides spreadsheet modeling consultancy, training, testing, model review and auditing.

Editors: Patrick O'Beirne is available for interview at the Excel User conference in Fort Worth, Dallas, from 14 to 17 September. Please contact him in Fort Worth at the Amersuites Hotel (817) 626-6000 or outside those dates at +353-55-22294

A sample review is attached for your reference.

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Systems Publishing

Villa Alba,

Tara Hill,


Co. Wexford,


Tel: +353 (0)55 22294

Fax: +353 (0)55 22165


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