No More Black Boxes
Do you have spreadsheets that have become crucial to your operations but nobody fully understands how they work? Many organizations have employees working on spreadsheets where they enter values in some cells and get results in other cells, but they don’t know what goes on in-between, this is called a black box. They trust that the long-gone employee who developed the spreadsheet made no errors, but research shows that about 90% of spreadsheets contain errors. Re-engineering those spreadsheets with the SSMI methodology will give you a clear picture. It can even be part of satisfying requirements for regulators, governments and organizations, like SOX and Basel III.
Manage Spreadsheets as Assets
Following the methodology automatically creates documentation for the spreadsheet: the Formula Diagram and the Formula List. Therefore, handing off the responsibility for the spreadsheet from one employee to another is a lot easier, because the new employee can fully understand how the spreadsheet works. Furthermore, you can keep track of the spreadsheet’s functional changes by keeping previous versions of its Formula Diagram. Your employees can easily re-use a previous Formula Diagram, and its corresponding spreadsheet, when they start a new project. They avoid having to spend time to develop another model from scratch. Spreadsheets maintenance will also be easier: they start with the creative task of modifying the Formula Diagram and the Formula List, and then they do the mechanical task where they know exactly what needs to be done in the spreadsheet. They get a better understanding of the impact of their changes.
Making Sure the Spreadsheets are Correct
Have you ever stood next to employees who were trying to explain their spreadsheets, going from cell to cell, repeatedly describing what the coordinates in a formula meant? You may have nodded your head a few times and had the impression that the spreadsheet was right.
Just as the SSMI methodology separates development into a creative and a mechanical task, auditing or verifying an existing structured spreadsheet starts by understanding its logic with the Formula Diagram and the Formula List and continues by making sure the implementation is correct.
Increased Productivity and Reliability
Following the SSMI methodology does not require extra work. After all, spreadsheet developers need to create variables and their formulas one way or another, and they have to enter them in the spreadsheet. Instead of doing both at the same time, they now do them separately. They will even save time by not undoing previous work and avoiding those “What was I doing?” moments when they switch from entering a formula in their spreadsheet to the creative task of figuring out which new variable to create.