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Simon Thorne & David Ball


In this paper we consider human factors and their impact on spreadsheet development in strategic decision-making.

This paper brings forward research from many disciplines both directly related to spreadsheets and a broader spectrum from psychology to industrial processing.

We investigate how human factors affect a simplified development cycle and what the potential consequences are.


Plan-build-test analogy
Plan-build-test analogy

We can demonstrate at which stage the particular human factors that play a significant role.

For example, the greatest threat to integrity at the plan stage is the lack of structured development methods knowledge.

In addition to the stage specific threats, there are overarching issues that discretely affect each stage:

  • Overconfidence. For example a modeller may be overconfident in planning their model, they may spend a minimal amount of time constructing a plan, if at all.
  • Base Error Rate (BER). A user will be pre-disposed to BER whilst they are building the spreadsheet but also when testing it.


2005, EuSpRIG

Full article

Exploring human factors in spreadsheet development