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Raymond R. Panko


Fifteen years of research studies have concluded unanimously that spreadsheet errors are both common and non-trivial. Now we must seek ways to reduce spreadsheet errors.

Several approaches have been suggested, some of which are promising and others, while appealing because they are easy to do, are not likely to be effective. To date, only one technique, cell-by-cell code inspection, has been demonstrated to be effective.

We need to conduct further research to determine the degree to which other techniques can reduce spreadsheet errors.


What we know:

  • At least 90% of spreadsheets contain errors.
  • There are many types of errors.
  • Developers are overconfident.
  • Policies are lax.

What we think we can do:

  • Recognise that human error is tenacious.
  • Protect cells to prevent accidental errors.
  • Re-key data to reduce data input errors.
  • Examine results for reasonableness.
  • Adopt good development practices.
  • Use error discovery software.
  • Inspect every cell.


2000, EuSpRIG

Full article

Spreadsheet errors: What we know; what we think we can do