Excel Error of Epic Olympic Magnitude

In a recent article, I warned of the dangers of a poorly managed Excel strategy.  Many organizations simply do not believe damage (whether financial, reputation, compliance, etc) can result from an Excel worksheet.  Recently, the 2012 London Olympics suffered an embarrassment because of a worksheet error.  A swimming event was overbooked by 10,000 seats.  Now that’s a huge number.  I can understand overbooking by 1, 2 maybe even 500 or 1,000 seats.  But 10,000 seats.

The Telegraph reported “a member of staff made a single keystroke mistake and entered ‘20,000’ into a spreadsheet rather than the correct figure of 10,000 remaining tickets. The error was discovered when Locog reconciled the number of tickets sold against the final layouts and seating configurations for venues, and began contacting ticket holders before Christmas.”

Apparently there were some controls surrounding ticket sales, however, the detective controls did not prevent damage and added to ongoing controversy surrounding the Olympic games.  This error could have been prevented with input validation controls.  For example, spreadsheet owners could have produced a formula that did not allow data input greater than the total number of tickets available for sale.  There are a number of other controls that could have prevented this error.  All would have required proper planning and forethought prior to constructing the spreadsheet.  Unfortunately, inadequate spreadsheet planning is where most spreadsheet applications fail.

I offer training on auditing and securing Excel applications.  Contact me if interested.

Source: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/olympics/8992490/London-2012-Olympics-lucky-few-to-get-100m-final-tickets-after-synchronised-swimming-was-overbooked-by-10000.html

Robert Berry (108)

Robert (That Audit Guy) Berry is a risk, compliance and auditing advocate, educator and innovator. He helps good professionals become better by creating articles, web services and training that allow them to expand their knowledge network.

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