Good practice and competency - ICAEW spreadsheet initiatives

We'll start with the questions:


The ICAEW has introduced two major spreadsheet projects in just over 3 years. In June 2014 over 220 people attended a packed event in Chartered Accountants Hall that saw the launch of Twenty principles for good spreadsheet practice. One year on a second edition was published. Michael Izza, the ICAEW CEO stressed in the preface to this edition that the aim of the twenty principles was not just to reduce the proportion of spreadsheets that contain errors from the current level of 90%, but also to reduce the "serious problem of waste arising from spreadsheets that are created inefficiently or carelessly".

Principle 3 of the above twenty principles states:

Ensure that everyone involved in the creation or use of spreadsheets has an appropriate level of knowledge and competence.

The difficulty here is knowing what constitutes an appropriate level of knowledge and competence. In an attempt to address this issue, 2016 saw the launch of the follow-up spreadsheet project: the Spreadsheet Competency Framework. Once again using the words from Michael Izza in the preface:

"Spreadsheet skills are often learned ad hoc – almost two-thirds of Excel Community users are self-taught – and many users are unaware of their own true competency. Novices are generally overconfident; experts tend to sell themselves short. Getting the right person in the right role with the right skills is no small challenge, but it's one that we are looking to tackle with this framework."

Now that both projects have been around for some time, it would be interesting to gauge how widespread is the knowledge of the existence of the projects, both amongst ICAEW members and the overall body of spreadsheet users. In addition, it would be helpful to know what practical effect they have had so far, hence the opening questions, and thank you if you have taken the trouble to submit your votes. We would also be delighted with any further observations or experiences entered as comments below.

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