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Thomas A. Grossman


Business students who rely on spreadsheets can use management science only to the extent that they can build a spreadsheet model of an unstructured business situation.

Spreadsheets are the primary vehicle for analytical work in business, are advantageous for modeling and model representation, and are used by management science practitioners as well as end-user modelers. There is a common misperception that spreadsheets are somehow "easy" to use. However, the spreadsheet is a powerful rapid development computer programming language that requires software engineering for serious work.

People struggle to efficiently build effective, transferable spreadsheet models. Students need certain spreadsheet engineering principles that they do not know, but value highly when they learn them.

Spreadsheet engineering can be taught using a hierarchical "Skills, Capabilities and Practices Model." Low-level "Skills" need to be evaluated and fixed early in a spreadsheet-oriented management science course. High-level "Capabilities" and "Practices" should be integrated throughout the course.

Embracing spreadsheet engineering provides a magnificent opportunity for management science instructors to increase relevance and student satisfaction while increasing the likelihood of management science application by our graduates.


Excel diagnostic tests
Excel diagnostic tests

The course uses a diagnostic quiz designed to test students' understanding of basic Excel techniques.

The quiz is meant to be answered without using Excel itself, and some questions may have more than one correct answer.


2006, INFORMS Transactions on Education, Volume 7, Issue 1, September, pages 18-36

Full article

Integrating spreadsheet engineering in a management science course: A hierarchical approach