Greg: This is PKF Texas, the Entrepreneur’s Playbook. I’m Greg Price, director of Consulting Solutions, and I’m here with Charles Philpott, a CPA and one of our certified fraud examiners at PKF Texas. Charles, welcome to the Playbook.
Charles: Thank you, Greg.
Greg: Well, Charles, a few years ago I had the opportunity to work at Information Security and Controls. One of the areas that we always struggled with back then were these Excel-based spreadsheets so maybe you can refresh us a little bit and tell us where we are today with respect to those nice little things.
Charles: Well, Greg, I would say in many respects that situation is unchanged or in fact perhaps grown in proportion. Some recent studies have come out indicating there’s over 200 million Excel users out there and they are producing reports of all varieties, and in fact you can go do a Google search and download just about any type of financial template that you might want to use for your company. Of course part of the challenge with things of that nature is are they reliable, and even if you get something working, you do you know it’s consistently reliable? How do you know things haven’t changed? Just a number of issues that can arise as a result of being in what I would call a somewhat uncontrolled environment.
Greg: Are there any commonalities that you see in some of the reviews that you’ve performed that, you know, if someone’s going to do maybe a top ten list, here these three or four or five things always show up?
Charles: One of the assessments we can do with a file or even a folder of files is essentially run what you’d call a spreadsheet risk assessment. Our tools will go in and look for how many errors are in any of the programs; how many links to external files are we seeing; are there any formulas that have additional numbers added to them to help things balance out. These would be what I’d flag as high risk areas and items that I’d want to look much more closely at the spreadsheet to determine if it’s still effective.
Greg: So it sounds like we need to have you back to talk a little bit more about some of these solutions. Will you join us again?
Greg: This has been a Thought Leader Production brought to you by PKF Texas, the Entrepreneur’s Playbook. Tune in next week for another chapter and remember, if you’re looking for additional resources on internal controls, security reviews, or forensics, go to pkftexas.com/internalaudit.