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Audit and change analysis of spreadsheets John C. Nash, Neil Smith, Andy Adler

Summary: Audit and change analysis of spreadsheets
John C. Nash, Neil Smith, Andy Adler
School of Management, University of Ottawa
136 J-J Lussier Private, Ottawa, Ontario, K1N 6N5, Canada
Because spreadsheets have a large and growing importance in real-world work, their contents
need to be controlled and validated. Generally spreadsheets have been difficult to verify, since
data and executable information are stored together. Spreadsheet applications with multiple
authors are especially difficult to verify, since controls over access are difficult to enforce. Facing
similar problems, traditional software engineering has developed numerous tools and
methodologies to control, verify and audit large applications with multiple developers. We present
some tools we have developed to enable 1) the audit of selected, filtered, or all changes in a
spreadsheet, that is, when a cell was changed, its original and new contents and who made the
change, and 2) control of access to the spreadsheet file(s) so that auditing is trustworthy. Our
tools apply to OpenOffice.org calc spreadsheets, which can generally be exchanged with
Microsoft Excel .
Scandals and debacles in the business world underline the need for better ways to audit
and analyze business data, especially in the form of spreadsheets. Spreadsheet tools and


Source: Adler, Andy - Department of Systems and Computer Engineering, Carleton University


Collections: Computer Technologies and Information Sciences