# Risk inspections

Risk detection in spreadsheets is one of the essential features of PerfectXL Risk Eliminator. Currently the tool detects up to 75 types of risk, ranging from small risks to major problems. In cooperation with the Spreadsheet Department of Delft University of Technology, we keep expanding the list of detectable risks.

## Risk inspection categories

Below you’ll find an overview of the risk categories that PerfectXL Risk Eliminator detects. Click a category to read more.

#### Hidden Information

Hiding “unimportant information” from other users may seem like a good idea to make complex spreadsheets more user friendly. But in reality that’s not the case. Hidden information can be altered by a user, without him even realizing what he’s doing, resulting in potential negative results.

#### Calculation Doubts

Excel does what you ask for, but are you asking the right question? We see many formulas that give us reason to doubt that. For example, when fixed numbers or double operators are used. This category of risks we call ‘calculation doubts’.

#### Range Issues

Larger spreadsheets are usually stuffed with formulas based on cell ranges. When spreadsheets are edited or expanded over time, different types of range issues may occur. These issues are usually hard to detect, but they can be very risky! We’ve seen big numbers and large sums of money ‘disappear’ because of range issues.

#### Vulnerable Functions

Currently Excel offers about 475 standard functions and new ones are added regularly. Most of these functions are rock-solid, but a couple of them we consider vulnerable functions. Some of which are frequently used by many Excel professionals. We suggest you try to avoid using them. Excel offers a range of fine alternatives.

#### Structure Issues

The creation of a good structure is one of the most important, yet most underestimated aspects in the development of a spreadsheet. Usually a spreadsheet starts small, but then it grows and nobody gets around to reorganizing the structure anymore. PerfectXL Risk Eliminator groups the risks resulting from ill structure under ‘structure issues’.

#### Complex Formulas

The art of programming is the art of keeping things simple. Complex formulas are hardly ever wise to use. Calculations can usually be simplified. You just have to figure out how. PerfectXL points out different types of complex formulas in your spreadsheet and it offers suggestions to improve the complexity.

#### VBA Issues

Excel is a powerful tool. And when it can’t do what you need, VBA can fill the gap. Unfortunately, using VBA can lead to unpredictable behaviour, slow performance, and corrupt Excel files. PerfectXL checks your macro-riddled spreadsheets for potential problems in the VBA code.

#### PerfectXL Risk Eliminator walkthrough

On this page you will find a step-by-step walkthrough of the PerfectXL Risk Eliminator.

#### PerfectXL Risk Eliminator technical information

Here you will find information like system requirements, release notes, and answers to most questions about our software.

#### Prefer INDEX and MATCH over VLOOKUP

VLOOKUP and the combination of INDEX and MATCH are well known ways to search in Excel, and to our great frustration, VLOOKUP is used a lot more often.

#### Pay attention to units and number formats

Excel horror stories are often related to accidentally changing, shifting or changing units or number formats.

#### Array functions are past times

Long ago, Excel was not as clever and advanced as today, but the so-called array functions have been around for a long time. However, most people do not know about them, and do not understand them.

#### How to find (hidden) circular references

(Hidden) circular references occur when Excel tries to compute a result of a cell that’s already been visited during the calculation round. Excel doesn’t warn us of conditional circular references.

#### Avoid long formulas

Whenever possible, keep your Excel formulas short and simple. Avoid long formulas; they are harder to read, harder to understand, difficult to check and tough to improve.

#### Never use fixed numbers in Excel formulas

The use of fixed numbers is a bad idea. A future user will not know where the number came from, and fixed numbers don’t change automatically, and thus might be overlooked when a change is made.

#### The dangers of hidden information

Do not hide anything except some sheets. Excel has too many attractive options that look good but may be risky in the long run.

#### Calculate formulas only once

Sometimes, you need to use the exact same formula, based on the same numbers, in several other formulas. You might be tempted to calculate this formula twice, but resist the temptation. Make sure that you calculate your formulas only once!

#### Do not merge cells

It is so tempting to merge cells in Excel so that they form a header above two or more columns. Yes, we must admit, it looks nice, but resist the temptation because it can be dangerous!

#### Don't neglect Excel errors

It’s a bad idea to leave standard Excel errors in your workbook. Please take the time to clean up, because after a while, you no longer know whether you left a mistake consciously or if there is something wrong with your spreadsheet.

#### Keep a formula close to its input

Place a formula close to its input variables. You reduce the chance of mistakes, you make optimal use of Excel’s support, and your spreadsheet becomes easier to carry over to someone else.

#### Risks & suggestions

To be able to trust a spreadsheet, a thorough check for errors and mistakes is essential. There are lots of different ways a simple mistake can destroy the validity of a spreadsheet.

#### Reports

Reporting is an integral part of Excel. Reports are generated in Excel, reports are built in Excel, and in many cases reports are a form of documentation required to properly use certain models in Excel.