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Barry Lawson, Kenneth R. Baker, Stephen G. Powell, & Lynn Foster-Johnson


How do experienced spreadsheet users compare to inexperienced ones, and what light can this comparison shed on spreadsheet best practices?

This is the question we address in this paper, using the results from a survey of nearly 1600 respondents. This survey was completed by a wide range of spreadsheet users and focused on their significant characteristics and practices. We were interested in their training, experience, collaboration, and quality control methods.

We also examined the number of spreadsheet functions they used regularly, the manner in which they created spreadsheets, and the types of tests they used to check results. We compared two subgroups corresponding to two extremes with respect to their self-reported level of experience and skill. Each subgroup was represented by roughly 10% of the total respondents.

Our results suggest that there is a substantial difference between these groups, not only in their personal backgrounds and the corporate setting within which they work, but also in their individual spreadsheet skills and practices. We find that the most experienced subgroup exhibits many desirable characteristics and practices.


Are spreadsheet audit packages used in your organization?
Are spreadsheet audit packages used in your organization?

Very few organizations use commerically available audit packages to review their spreadsheets.


2009, The International Journal of Management Science, Omega 37, Issue 3, June, pages 579-590

Full article

A comparison of spreadsheet users with different levels of experience

Also see

Comparison of characteristics and practices amongst spreadsheet users with different levels of experience