Spreadsheet test plan 792

  • I’ve been following the guidance notes published by PWC on spreadsheets and so far things are going well. I’m now at the TEST PLAN stage and unfortunately thats where the guidance notes seem to end. An inventory has been created and assessed based on use, complexity, impact etc together with a list of existing controls. Most of the spreadsheets that I’ve encountered do not appear to be complex as they only contain simple formulas and few links to other spreadsheets.
    Has anyone completed the test plan? If so, can someone point me to the right direction in terms of what is the most effective and efficient way of testing these spreadsheets? Has any one created a standard template to cover the testing?

  • This is from a PWC whitepaper on spreadsheets:%0AAn article in the May 24, 2004 issue of Computer World indicated that, Anecdotal evidence suggests that 20%%0Ato 40% of spreadsheets have errors, but recent audits of 54 spreadsheets found that 49 (or 91%) had errors,%0Aaccording to research by Raymond R. Panko, a professor at the University of Hawaii. The Journal of Property%0AManagement on July 1, 2002 stated, 30 to 90 percent of all spreadsheets suffer from at least one major user%0Aerror. The range in error rates depends on the complexity of the spreadsheet being tested. In addition, none%0Aof the tests included spreadsheets with more than 200 line items where the probability of error approaches 100%0Apercent. Perform an online search for spreadsheet errors or spreadsheet audit, and you will fi nd a number of%0Amajor failures attributed to spreadsheet inaccuracies that hit the press in the past year alone.

  • Are you covering all of the steps listed in the PwC guidance? We decided to select the most pertinent factors based on the risks that we see in our spreadsheets. Namely concentrating more on the accuracy of the formulas than requiring such stringent ideas as change controls over spreadsheets.
    If you decide to design your own spreadsheet, just be consistent in how you approach each spreadsheet and include as much detail about the areas of the spreadsheets you are testing (ie. include cell references and purposes for major formulas) so that the auditors can easily follow your work. Otherwise they will balk at relying on your testing.
    By the way, PwC accepted our use of fewer than all of the steps in their guidance in a recently completed audit.

  • The PwC white paper on spreadsheets was thorough but onerous (at best) when it comes to implementation. I strongly recommend you follow SOXBRIEF’s advice and pick the control attributes that are key and test only those.

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