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Managers risk

Like spreadsheet users, managers are overconfident about the quality of the spreadsheets that they rely on for making decisions.

Therefore, managers also need to recognize that spreadsheet error is a real and substantial risk.

As motivation, managers should be aware that they are accountable for any spreadsheet problems that occur.

A manager's role

A key role for managers is to recognize and mitigate spreadsheet risk and overconfidence. To improve spreadsheets, managers must:

  • Ensure that the users are aware of spreadsheet risks.
  • Train users how to mitigate those risks through spreadsheet good practices.
  • Insist on good practices being used for all spreadsheets.
  • Recognise and manage other factors that increase risk, such as tight deadlines and resource constraints. Such factors are a reality, but they are not an excuse for making spreadsheets of mediocre quality.
  • Ensure that all spreadsheets are tested before being used.

An important point is that testing will discover errors and other problems. Rather than berating the spreadsheet developers for making mistakes, the discoveries should be used as a positive feedback mechanism to reinforce and improve spreadsheet good practice.