By Anita Campbell - You don't need to be an accountant to share spreadsheets regularly. Nor do you need to be an accountant to worry about what's happening with the information in confidential spreadsheets once you send that email off with the spreadsheets attached.
For instance, in my business, I use spreadsheets to perform competitive analyses using my proprietary checklists. I also use spreadsheets to organize lists of online marketing tools that I have assembled with many hours of work on my part, that I provide to clients to save them having to put in the same number of hours.
Naturally, I don't want my hard-earned intellectual property just floating freely around the Web.
Oh, and of course, I use spreadsheets for my confidential business planning, such as sales projections, new revenue models and customer lists. Ditto on the "floating around" part.
I am often uncomfortable just emailing spreadsheets around, because I never knew what happened with them. Were they being shared with the world, I wondered? Plus, it never misses -- someone always seems to end up using an outdated version of a document, causing confusion.
(Want to be horrified? Just do a Google search for spreadsheet file formats and company names. Be sitting down because you're likely to find all kinds of "confidential" data online.)
Now I share documents with others using eXpresso, an online sharing service. Unlike other online spreadsheets, such as Zoho and Google docs, with eXpresso you can actually share Excel spreadsheets, not some wannabe spreadsheet format.
The best part is, you can control who sees what, who can edit what -- even down to a section within a spreadsheet. You can see who is accessing the spreadsheet, what they may have changed, and when they changed it.
I interviewed the CEO of eXpresso on my radio program not long ago, as he talks about what you can do with this service. You can listen to the interview here:
Stop Spreadsheet Anarchy (mp3)