When managing spreadsheets within an organization, it is imperative to maintain an adequate process to ensure checks and balances on how the files are updated. Proper spreadsheet management control should be a major point of concern for large companies and financial institutions, because they use spreadsheets to make everyday decisions, both big and small. When you are unsure about a change to a spreadsheet (who, what, why, etc.), it makes you question the integrity of the information, which leads to uncertainty and possible negative outcomes if a decision is made based on misinformation.

Many companies have a system to submit and approve change requests for these types of files, especially if they are deemed critical or are very sensitive in nature. By implementing this internal change control protocol, companies:

  1. Increase the integrity of the data contained in their spreadsheets
  2. Approve or reject change requests before they are implemented
  3. Augment personal accountability and reduce the likelihood of mistakes
  4. Lock down access to critical files on a strictly need-to-know basis
  5. Maintain an auditable record of the file’s evolution over time

A simpler way to think about change control is to picture it as an added security check. Before boarding an airplane, everybody goes through the same security check. It’s trusted, routine, and dramatically increases the safety and peace of mind of those who fly. That’s how it should be for checking the changes made to an important spreadsheet: simple, safe, and to the point.