Some spreadsheet auditing products claim to offer a huge array of analyses – but without any evidence that these actually help deliver better quality spreadsheets. Rainbow’s Risk Map and Logic Analysis functions (on the Rainbow tab shown above) still give you a very wide range of analysis options, but they also include specific analyses recommended by spreadsheet researchers in Portugal and The Netherlands.
In combination with Rainbow’s many other functions (described on our Overview page), they can help you deliver spreadsheets that meet current quality standards such as the ICAEW’s Twenty principles for good spreadsheet practice or the more detailed FAST Standard.
And if you’re using Excel 2013 or Office 365 with the free Spreadsheet Inquire add-in, you should probably read this independent report which explains why the Inquire add-in is no substitute for a tool like Rainbow Pro. You’ll see from pp.4-5 of the report that because of the way it looks at formulas, Spreadsheet Inquire wouldn’t even help you find the error in our “Rainbow test” below.
Try the Rainbow test – can you find the hidden error?
Many research studies (both academic and commercial) have shown that all spreadsheets contain errors. The screenshot above shows how Rainbow Analyst highlights some potential errors, and the fact is that without Excel audit software such as Rainbow Analyst, many spreadsheet errors are likely to go undetected. If you’re not convinced, you can try the Rainbow test for yourself:
- Here is a small but realistic spreadsheet in which an error has been introduced into one of the formulas (hint: it’s in the first 100 rows). Why not give yourself 5 minutes to see if you can find it?
- And here is the same spreadsheet as highlighted by Rainbow Pro using the Formula Scan function (which you can see on the Rainbow tab above). If you didn’t manage to find the error before, how quickly can you spot it now?
It took Rainbow Pro just 4 seconds to highlight this spreadsheet, and we’re willing to bet that it saved you a lot more time than that in finding the error (which you can see very clearly in this unedited screenshot). And this was just a trivial error (that didn’t actually affect the calculated value) in a small spreadsheet; imagine the difference that Rainbow Pro could make with a large spreadsheet where the results actually matter. With prices starting from just £70 for commercial use, can you afford not to have Rainbow Pro on your Excel menu?
What Rainbow delivers
Have you ever thought that there must be a quicker and more effective way to review a spreadsheet? If so, you will find that Rainbow Analyst’s powerful audit and analysis functionality is capable of delivering:
- fast summary assessment of the overall quality of a spreadsheet;
- better understanding of the structure and logic flows;
- sophisticated diagnosis of possible logic errors;
- ability to scan for other possible risks;
- a streamlined process to support cell-by-cell audit;
- a comparison tool that can hugely simplify version control;
- a short learning curve with Rainbow’s simple and intuitive user interface;
- and peace of mind, knowing that you have taken appropriate measures to ensure spreadsheet quality.
Rainbow’s wide range of analysis functions (as detailed on our Overview page) can detect errors which would be hard to spot through manual checking, however exhaustive. If you have ever wished you could see at a glance where potential errors might be lurking in a spreadsheet model, with Rainbow’s functions at your disposal you will readily be able to:
- assess quickly where there are likely to be problems or errors in a model;
- see the overall flow of logic within and between different sheets in a workbook;
- see where model inputs really are, as opposed to where they are indicated;
- find row differences, hard-coded numbers, complex formulas and other problems;
- find details of external links, comments, data tables, charts and macro buttons;
- list defined names, convert names to cell references, and delete invalid names;
- check how consistently formulas have been copied across rows and down columns;
- analyse the logic of any individual cell and spot potential inconsistencies;
- analyse differences between workbooks, worksheets or tables in a sheet.
Rainbow Analyst is simple to use; you can access all its features from the Rainbow tab on the Ribbon in Excel 2007 onwards. For more information, you can read the full Rainbow Pro 12 User Guide, but really it’s better to try it for yourself. Simply click the button below for your free trial copy:
(Note: If Windows SmartScreen reports the download file as an “unrecognised application”, just click “More info” in the SmartScreen message, then click the “Run anyway” button.)