Spreadsheets are commonly used and commonly flawed.
Caulkins, Morrison, & Weidemann (2008)
94% of the 88 spreadsheets audited in 7 studies have contained errors.
Panko (2008)
Spreadsheets are more fault-prone than other software.
Kulesz & Ostberg (2013)
...few incidents of spreadsheet errors are made public and these are usually not revealed by choice.
Kruck & Sheetz (2001)
People tend to believe their spreadsheets are more accurate than they really are.
Caulkins, Morrison, & Weidemann (2006)
A lot of decisions are being made on the basis of some bad numbers.
Ross (1996)
Spreadsheets... pose a greater threat to your business than almost anything you can imagine.
Howard (2005)
Spreadsheets are often hard, if not impossible, to understand.
Mireault & Gresham (2015)
Programmers exhibit unwarranted confidence in the correctness of their spreadsheets.
Krishna, et al (2001)
Spreadsheet errors... a great, often unrecognised, risk to corporate decision making & financial integrity.
Chadwick (2002)
The issue is not whether there is an error but how many errors there are and how serious they are.
Panko (2007)
Overconfidence is one of the most substantial causes of spreadsheet errors.
Sakal, et al (2015)
60% of large companies feel 'Spreadsheet Hell' describes their reliance on spreadsheets.
Murphy (2007)
The software that end users are creating... is riddled with errors.
Burnett & Myers (2014)
Spreadsheets contain errors at an alarmingly high rate.
Abraham, et al (2005)
Even obvious, elementary errors in very simple, clearly documented spreadsheets are... difficult to find.
Galletta, et al (1993)
Spreadsheets are extraordinarily and unacceptably prone to error.
Dunn (2010)
Never assume a spreadsheet is right, even your own.
Raffensperger (2001)
Spreadsheets are alarmingly error-prone to write.
Paine (2001)
Spreadsheets are dangerous to their authors and others.
Durusau & Hunting (2015)
Studies have shown that there is a high incidence of errors in spreadsheets.
Csernoch & Biro (2013)
Spreadsheet errors are pervasive, stubborn, ubiquitous and complex.
Irons (2003)
Errors in spreadsheets... result in incorrect decisions being made and significant losses incurred.
Beaman, et al (2005)
Spreadsheet errors are still the rule rather than the exception.
Nixon & O'Hara (2010)
The quality and reliability of spreadsheets is known to be poor.
Bishop & McDaid (2007)
It is irrational to expect large error-free spreadsheets.
Panko (2013)
Errors in spreadsheets are as ubiquitous as spreadsheets themselves.
Colbenz (2005)
Spreadsheets have a notoriously high number of faults.
Rust, et al (2006)
The results given by spreadsheets are often just wrong.
Sajaniemi (1998)
Every study that has looked for errors has found them... in considerable abundance.
Panko & Halverson (1996)
Spreadsheet development must embrace extensive testing in order to be taken seriously as a profession.
Bock (2016)
Your spreadsheets may be disasters in the making.
Caulkins, Morrison, & Weidemann (2006)
The untested spreadsheet is as dangerous and untrustworthy as an untested program.
Price (2006)
Spreadsheet shortcomings can significantly hamper an organization's business operation.
Reschenhofer & Matthes (2015)
1% of all formulas in operational spreadsheets are in error.
Powell, Baker, & Lawson (2009)
Every study, without exception, has found error rates much higher than organizations would wish to tolerate.
Panko (1999)
Research on spreadsheet errors is substantial, compelling, and unanimous.
Panko (2015)
Spreadsheets can be viewed as a highly flexible programming environment for end users.
Abreu, et al (2015)
Most large spreadsheets have dozens or even hundreds of errors.
Panko & Ordway (2005)
Untested spreadsheets are riddled with errors.
Miller (2005)
Developing an error-free spreadsheet has been a problem since the beginning of end-user computing.
Mireault (2015)
Despite being staggeringly error prone, spreadsheets are a highly flexible programming environment.
Abreu, et al (2015)
Spreadsheet errors have resulted in huge financial losses.
Abraham & Erwig (2007)
Despite overwhelming and unanimous evidence... companies have continued to ignore spreadsheet error risks.
Panko (2014)
Spreadsheets are the most popular live programming environments, but they are also notoriously fault-prone.
Hermans & van der Storm (2015)
Spreadsheets are easy to use and very hard to check.
Chen & Chan (2000)
Most executives do not really check or verify the accuracy or validity of [their] spreadsheets...
Teo & Tan (1999)
It is now widely accepted that errors in spreadsheets are both common and potentially dangerous.
Nixon & O'Hara (2010)
A significant proportion of spreadsheets have severe quality problems.
Ayalew (2007)
Spreadsheets are notoriously error-prone.
Cunha, et al (2011)

Spreadsheet bibliography

Title Spreadsheet risk: How and why to build a better spreadsheet
Authors Judith A. Ross
Year 1996
Type Article
Publication Harvard Business Review
Series Volume 74, Number 5, Sep/Oct, pages 10-12
Abstract

The article discusses the findings of a study on spreadsheet error and presents five steps that ensures that managers can make spreadsheets more accurate.

The research suggests that spreadsheet developers usually err when they make an inputting error, when they use incorrect logic in one of the spreadsheet's formulas and when they simply leave out a piece of information. To avoid these pitfalls the research suggests conducting a random audit of the spreadsheets that are critical to a business organization's function.

Companies should institute protection computer programs that guard against error. Authorship and responsibility for spreadsheets should be clear and the sheets themselves and the information in them should be self-explanatory. Results should be checked by hand. Managers should construct a detailed spreadsheet design plan before beginning construction of one.

Full version Not available
Sample
Steps to make spreadsheets safer

Managers can make spreadsheets safer by taking five relatively easy steps:

  • Conduct a random audit of 25 to 50 spreadsheets to determine whether there are any problems - and their extent if there are. Begin with spreadsheets that are critical and use a team of auditors rather than an individual because an individual is likely to catch only about half the errors.
  • Build protection into all spreadsheets as a way to prevent errors. A protected spreadsheet lets users change assumption numbers while preventing them from typing a number where a formula should go.
  • Prevent spreadsheets from turning into "black boxes" by having them written in clear code, clarifying who is responsible for important spreadsheets, and documenting how they will be maintained if the developer leaves the company.
  • Check the results manually. Although the numbers on a completed spreadsheet may look reasonable, they often are not.
  • Complete a detailed design before starting to build and use a spreadsheet. The design should be inspected formally by users to ensure that the developer understands what functions are needed, and by people with development expertise to prevent problems.
Go to top