Feeds

Making sense of spreadsheet madness

QTier-Rapor

High performance access to file storage

Comment I have written in the last year or so about a number of vendors offering spreadsheet management and compliance capabilities. However, one that I had not previously come across is QTier, whose QTier-Rapor product combines spreadsheet management with spreadsheet automation. Indeed, the latter was the original focus of the product, which is perhaps why I had not previously heard of it, or perhaps because it is a relatively small British company that focuses on technology rather than marketing. I only heard about it because one of its partners, Insight Management and System Consultants, which is a specialist in the public sector, gave me a heads up.

The most impressive thing about QTier-Rapor is that it has been designed to support the process of developing (and automating) spreadsheets. Moreover, I mean process in the sense of business process improvement with workflow-like diagrams that you create using drag-and-drop techniques, so that the creation process is formalised, including the various steps that owners, editors and auditors should undertake both during development and testing and prior to formal release to production.

As far as users are concerned, they simply use Excel (any version that supports .NET) but the spreadsheet can be automatically populated from, say, ERP applications and, indeed, a single spreadsheet can be dependent on a number of heterogeneous front-end sources. Spreadsheets are instantiated at run-time and are dynamically populated. You can also write-back to the source systems (if you have permission) or, if the spreadsheet generates information for which there is no relevant data field in the source, you can use Rapor's own database (Oracle or SQL Server) to store this information.

Other automated facilities include data validation (checking for reasonableness), dependency checking (you can't run a forecast review, for example, before forecast entry), disconnected processing support, a task scheduler and the ability to track the completion of spreadsheets using, say, traffic light indicators. One feature I would like to see is impact analysis and where-used capabilities: QTier says that you could design a spreadsheet for this purpose but it would be for a specific requirement rather than a generic facility. Also, you can't include a release date as a part of a process though you could use the task scheduler for this purpose.

On the management and compliance side, there are audit trails for security (monitoring role changes), process version history (Rapor includes full change and version management capabilities) and end user and event-based (including subversion events) auditing. There is also an anti-tampering facility as well as locking down to cell level, the ability to assign compliance rules to some spreadsheets but not others, an authentication/registration number that is system generated for all printed versions of a spreadsheet, and the automatic generation of relevant documentation (QTier estimates around 60 per cent of the total).

All of this (and I have only scratched the surface) should make QTier of serious interest for anyone interested in getting a handle on their spreadsheet issues. Despite being only a small company, QTier has been around since 1999 and has worked closely with PwC on the development of Rapor. It has now established distributorships in the United States, Australia, Ireland, and the UK. Some of its partners have built applications such as expense or timesheet management on top of Rapor but mostly it is marketed as a generic proposition.

Copyright © 2006, IT-Analysis.com

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Windows 8.1, which you probably haven't upgraded to yet, ALREADY OBSOLETE
Pre-Update versions of new Windows version will no longer support patches
Android engineer: We DIDN'T copy Apple OR follow Samsung's orders
Veep testifies for Samsung during Apple patent trial
OpenSSL Heartbleed: Bloody nose for open-source bleeding hearts
Bloke behind the cockup says not enough people are helping crucial crypto project
Microsoft lobs pre-release Windows Phone 8.1 at devs who dare
App makers can load it before anyone else, but if they do they're stuck with it
Half of Twitter's 'active users' are SILENT STALKERS
Nearly 50% have NEVER tweeted a word
Windows XP still has 27 per cent market share on its deathbed
Windows 7 making some gains on XP Death Day
Internet-of-stuff startup dumps NoSQL for ... SQL?
NoSQL taste great at first but lacks proper nutrients, says startup cloud whiz
US taxman blows Win XP deadline, must now spend millions on custom support
Gov't IT likened to 'a Model T with a lot of things on top of it'
prev story

Whitepapers

Mainstay ROI - Does application security pay?
In this whitepaper learn how you and your enterprise might benefit from better software security.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Mobile application security study
Download this report to see the alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, as well as the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.