EQUS – Ensuring the Quality and Usability of Spreadsheets

EQUS is a useful spreadsheet add-in for Microsoft Excel and other software packages, designed to help ensure data integrity by allowing you to check formulas for potential errors. EQUS stands for Ensuring the Quality and Usability of Spreadsheets, and is the first product from VeryViz – Learning Light’s joint project with Sheffield Hallam University.

Spreadsheets are now a key part of many jobs within the knowledge economy, with an estimated 750 million users worldwide of Microsoft Excel alone. As well as simple record keeping and basic calculations, spreadsheet data is used to make crucial decisions in areas like recruitment, construction, teaching and business investments to name just a few.

Salesforce estimate that 88% of all spreadsheets contain errors, and even the smallest of mistakes can have, and have indeed led to, dramatic consequences – leading to up to hundreds of millions of pounds in lost revenue – each!

With the risk of such consequences comes the responsibility of managing data as carefully as possible, but errors in Excel formulas or other types of spreadsheet calculations can be hard to spot – even with good attention to detail.

This is where a formula visualisation tool like EQUS comes in – allowing the user to see the calculation step by step, rather than just the output at the end.

EQUS formula calculations for volume of a cylinder

Users are then able to identify possible issues more easily and correct them accordingly.

As well as creating and improving new products like EQUS to improve data visualisation and integrity, with the VeryViz project we aim to increase awareness of the important of managing data effectively in spreadsheets and databases, as many users are simply unaware of the risks and errors that occur so frequently.

We’ll be creating and signposting articles on best practice, other useful tools and add-ins for Excel and other software, and the latest news and views on this important area of modern business and education.

We also welcome comments, ideas and potential partnerships with anyone interested in EQUS or VeryViz, so feel free to contact us here via the Learning Light website to discuss.