Spreadsheet Paper

Centropy the ‘entropy’ antonym


EMC and IDC’s ˜The Digital Universe’ study projects that the total amount of data created and copied annually was equivalent to  4.4 billion 1TB disk drives at the end of 2013 and will grow by a factor of 10, by 2020! 


Over time good order, if it is not sufficiently maintained or revised, degenerates to disorder and entropy. 


Big Data is getting bigger and broader in every medium, more chaotic and difficult for firms to keep streamlined. It is unsatisfactory to end users when disparate information is governed in the same way. Either there are no rules, or all data, barring e-mail, have the same rules applied overall, despite changing environments and changing expectations of data use.


As time passes, the data pools build up – if they are not deleted en-mass by date restrictions at periodic intervals, the firm will pay for the overnight back-ups and storage of dinosaur data that is buried deep. Data can be expensive to buy or has other cost and value associations and may be deem it important to preserve – although after a time, very few really know why, how or when it will ever be needed – nor what or who really depends on it, in its entirety. 

This is especially true of Spreadsheets because they are designed to keep us organised and on track for virtually every aspect of business.


Data in Spreadsheets may even depend on other external data links to retain its value.


By now we all recognise legacy spreadsheets (and their inherent data) fall into the great black hole of our own creation and much of this is produced by the editing, saving, copying, recreating and linking of spreadsheets daily. The myriad of data sets are in the network of spreadsheets somewhere but we don’t always know what there is, or how we can find most of it. We may become secondary inheritors of complex spreadsheets linked systems, so we need transparency before we can be certain about how to utilise or recognise what relative value it all represents to the business.


How do we search thoroughly and successfully in literally millions of sheets that most corporations have encouraged every employee to use with unfettered freedom?


Everyone is an author and editor of their own spreadsheets; most firms don’t govern their use in every critical area of their business. Consequently, there are hundreds of spreadsheets per user to assist the workflow of business from Real Time data in complex calculation models to Annual Taxes and Financial budgetary reports that every size of business depends upon.


Spreadsheets are used as a primary tool in the management of risk and to ascertain maximum profitability. Regulatory changes and corporate policies can also be incorporated within them, therefore, they are an important catalogue of documented events that could be used, not only to safeguard your business, but also help getting your business in order.


Once the data is embedded in disparate spreadsheets, there are informal, undocumented systems that form by virtue of linking of cell references between sheets – External Links – These external links are created by specific cell references pulling data from other spreadsheets using an array of different sources, DDE Links and a variety of Add In’s provided by in-house applications and service providers know these will make it simpler to utilise data on spreadsheets from their specialised systems. Taxonomists report that client firms don’t even want to enter into investigating spreadsheets as a manual process, it’s too time-consuming, difficult to know where to start or end and are reluctant to uncover a hornet’s nest.


In a large corporation, more spreadsheets are produced in a day than a dedicated team can, effectively, check manually. Multiply that by the number of business areas and several years of data linking sheet to sheet, you can understand why the task seems insurmountable.

We cannot keep putting it off! Transparency is needed before everything comes to a head on your watch!


Transparency allows us to see what our business uses today, what it depended on yesterday and help derive what our respective business will need for tomorrow.

Transparency allows Governance enabling you to plan for the future and to quickly adjust those plans for the unforeseen and enable our business to be proactive all of the time, but most importantly, when it counts.

We need to know where we are now, to know how to get to where we want to be!


Information used in Spreadsheets can run entire businesses and with several iterations of the same sheets created by several team members, almost daily, we have reached the critical time where it is URGENT to have transparency of spreadsheet systems and in cases of Real Time data, it’s imperative to have transparency of the data we use, and what we hoard for “just in case”.

Firms are seeking to find more effective ways to CUT COSTS and become more transparent in alignment with regulatory requirements in every direction – spreadsheets are even impacted by GDPR, the General Data Protection Regulation that affects all entities with 250+ employees keeping personal data – even on spreadsheets.


The Cost of Laissez-Faire

Data used in Production systems has to be duplicated a minimum of three times on a daily basis for back-up:

Production;  BCP (Business Continuity Planning);  Disaster Recovery (mirrors Production) as a minimum there are three copies of the same data! Space may be cheap to some, but consider that the cost could be less than half as much! – Should we continue to copy ever-increasing volumes of data ad-infinitum?

Soon enough there won’t be enough overnight time to do daily back-ups with the growing volume of data required to store.


The cost of storage has reduced but Maintenance Contracts rise where more time and effort is required to maintain.

Housekeeping can erode BAU Budget that could be allocated elsewhere to enhance and grow the business.



We are united in the view that we want our business to continue with the business of our business but without any disruption to getting business!

We don’t like cost of change it’s good money down the drain when we have legacy and continuity in spreadsheets.

End Users want to have all the flexibility and continued use of spreadsheets that they have been accustomed to, that they are educated in and have proficiency in since spreadsheets were introduced in 1986.

Potentially, there are thirty years of spreadsheet history among end users and in company archives!


Data Directors cannot afford to do nothing about growing historic, embedded Dinosaur Data.

Resources can be saved by using automation to take out the mindless, monotony that is the manual effort.


The means to good order is here with Centropy for your map of inter-linked spreadsheets.


Saving resources will cut costs to the business

Knowing what we don’t know gives business transparency

Transparency enables governance

Governance provides audit availability

Audit reports, in every guise, keep the whole business fluid and compliant

Compliance is what the regulators insist on.


We have the means to act on an area of compliance that would have been akin to entering the Black Hole of Spreadsheets before now.




Lisa Nicholson

Director, Ropnoy Ltd

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