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These guidelines have been developed based on:

  • Extensive practical knowledge from building, testing, and using spreadsheets.
  • Decades of consulting experience offering modelling and analysis services globally.
  • A review of the academic research about spreadsheet practices, especially spreadsheet risks.

What we know

Yes, there really is an academic literature about spreadsheets. That shouldn't be surprising, given the importance of spreadsheets.

Research into spreadsheets, reinforced by our experience, has concluded that:

  • 95% of spreadsheets have errors.
  • The issue is not whether there are errors, but their quantity and seriousness.
  • We are overconfident about the quality of our spreadsheets.
  • Spreadsheets are essential to many organizations, often being used for mission critical tasks.
  • Consequently, spreadsheet errors have real and substantial impacts.
  • The problem is not spreadsheets as such, but rather our spreadsheet practices.
  • Most analysts have little or no training in how to develop good spreadsheets.
  • Managers typically do not recognize, or do anything about, spreadsheet risk.
  • Being aware of the risks, and applying good practices, leads to better spreadsheets.

These guidelines expand on those conclusions, supplying detailed insights and examples to help you make better spreadsheets.