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Thomas A. Grossman & Ozgur Ozluk


Many large financial planning models are written in a spreadsheet programming language (usually Microsoft Excel) and deployed as a spreadsheet application.

Three groups, FAST Alliance, Operis Group, and BPM Analytics (under the name "Spreadsheet Standards Review Board") have independently promulgated standardized processes for efficiently building such models. These spreadsheet engineering methodologies provide detailed guidance on design, construction process, and quality control. We summarize and compare these methodologies. They share many design practices, and standardized, mechanistic procedures to construct spreadsheets.

We learned that a written book or standards document is by itself insufficient to understand a methodology. These methodologies represent a professionalization of spreadsheet programming, and can provide a means to debug a spreadsheet that contains errors.

We find credible the assertion that these spreadsheet engineering methodologies provide enhanced productivity, accuracy and maintainability for large financial planning models.


Activity-based spreadsheet engineering paradigm.

To evaluate the methodologies, we evaluated them against the spreadsheet engineering paradigm from Grossman & Ozluk (2004):

  • Modeling.
  • Development parameters.
  • Design.
  • Programming.
  • Quality Control.
  • Debugging.
  • Documentation.
  • Usage.
  • Modification.


2010, EuSpRIG

Full article

Spreadsheets grow up: Three spreadsheet engineering methodologies for large financial planning models