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Twenty Principles for Good Spreadsheet Practice

by Paul Booth on 12.11.2013 17:44

There have been countless posts on IT Counts and the Excel Community about the risks of poorly designed spreadsheets and the time that can be wasted by inefficient use of spreadsheets. The IT Faculty is publishing what we hope will be a major contribution towards addressing those problems, and now is your chance to improve our 'public consultation draft', by providing feedback here.

Over the past several months a dozen or so ‘spreadsheet gurus’ – the term is meant as a compliment ¬≠– have been debating what ought to be our ‘Twenty Principles of Good Spreadsheet Practice’.

The result of that debate can be downloaded and read here. I should add that this is an interim result, since what we are now doing is opening that debate wider, so that we can further improve what we have done in the light of feedback that comes in over the next few weeks.

This document is not meant to be a set of ‘spreadsheet standards’: there are already plenty of those in existence. What we have set out to do is formulate a set of higher level ‘Principles’ of best practice.

As is made clear in the introduction to the document, the ‘best practice’ we are talking about is not confined to the way spreadsheets should be designed – important though that is. Best practice extends also to the business environment in which spreadsheets are used. That includes such matters as putting in place appropriate training and a suitable control framework, as well as encouraging people to ask themselves, before they start a new spreadsheet, whether a spreadsheet is actually the best tool for the job.

So this posting is part of our ‘public exposure’ of the Spreadsheet Principles. Comments and suggestions for improvement are welcome!