Study Finds Spreadsheet Risk is Real; Businesses are Aware of the Risk—Yet Despite Relying on this Data to Make Key Business Decisions—the Risk is Ignored

SAN JOSE, Calif.--()--Incisive Software today announced results of a study that evaluates spreadsheet risk. The findings confirm companies are exposing themselves to financial and reputational risk by overlooking spreadsheet vulnerabilities. The Forrester Opportunity Snapshot, a custom study conducted by Forrester Consulting and commissioned by Incisive Software, reveals that spreadsheet risk carries real implications for not only organizations, but customers, and shareholders.

According to the Forrester Consulting study, “[Spreadsheet] risk is real—and many frontline workers recognize this. However, nearly a third of respondents noted that management doesn’t recognize this risk, underscoring the fact that C-level executives are making decisions based on data assumed to be accurate, but that can contain errors.”

Eighty-eight percent of respondents use more than 100 complex and customized spreadsheets to support their critical business processes. And while there is a very high level of concern with the inherent risk associated with spreadsheets, fewer than 20 percent feel empowered or ready to tackle the problem.

“Despite the reputational and financial risk, it’s astonishing that organizations are regularly making top- and bottom-line decisions under the assumption that data within spreadsheets is accurate and complete,” said Diane Robinette, CEO of Incisive Software. “Excel is a powerful tool, and as this research proves, its use is prevalent across all areas and levels of every organization. Asking employees to stop using Excel is not the answer, nor is turning a blind-eye. Businesses must acknowledge the risk and raise their standards on what they expect out of their spreadsheet risk management programs. Modernizing these programs with spreadsheet risk management technology will greatly mitigate risks.”

Almost a third of respondents noted that their organizations use over 10,000 spreadsheets on a regular basis. While 53 percent of respondents were very concerned with the idea of spreadsheet risk, only 19 percent were actively working to change their risk exposure. Twenty-three percent believed they were not in a position to change their organizations’ approaches, and 11 percent did not understand where to begin tackling the problem.

The study also confirmed spreadsheets remain the dominant medium for business-critical tasks. For example,

  • Despite easy manipulation and a lack of inherent controls, nearly 50 percent of companies still rely on spreadsheets alone to do their auditing and controls — a process necessary for risk assessment and compliance management.
  • Over 35 percent of finance and accounting departments regularly use spreadsheets to fuel their decision making.
  • Thirty-one percent of operations departments (including sales operations and marketing operations) rely on spreadsheets.
  • Nearly one in five governance, risk, and compliance professionals depends on spreadsheet accuracy. Over a third of customer/account data analysis is purely manual and contained within spreadsheets; another third is done within a combination of spreadsheets and other databases. This exposes organizations not only to poor analysis, but also to customer data breaches

Want to learn more about spreadsheet risk? The Forrester Opportunity Snapshot study can be accessed here.

Want to hear directly from the experts? Register for the June 18th webinar, “Think Spreadsheet Risk Isn’t a Threat? Think Again.” This thought-leadership discussion features Forrester Principal Analyst Renee Murphy and Incisive Software CEO Diane Robinette. Murphy and Robinette will share why companies that prioritize mitigating spreadsheet risk are better positioned to protect customers, revenue, and reputation.

Methodology: The survey was conducted by Forrester Consulting in March 2019, with professionals at the manager level and above at 170 mid- to large-size North American businesses. All survey participants routinely make business-critical decisions based on data in spreadsheets.

About Incisive Software

Incisive Software provides award-winning spreadsheet risk intelligence solutions that identify, manage and reduce risk exposure in business-critical processes that use or interact with spreadsheets. Incisive employs a modern and automated approach to proactively and continuously manage the compliance, process and decision finding and then managing the risk embedded in business critical spreadsheets. For more information about Incisive and the company’s solutions, visit


Julie Dearing for Incisive Software

Release Summary

Forrester study on spreadsheet risk confirms companies are exposing themselves to financial and reputational risk.


Julie Dearing for Incisive Software