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

Spreadsheet bibliography

Title Do spreadsheet errors lead to bad decisions: Perspectives of executives and senior managers
Authors Jonathan P. Caulkins, Erika Layne Morrison, & Timothy Weidemann
Year 2008
Type Article
Publication Heinz Research
Series Paper 2
Abstract

Spreadsheets are commonly used and commonly flawed, but it is not clear how often spreadsheet errors lead to bad decisions.

We interviewed 45 executives and senior managers / analysts in the private, public, and non-profit sectors about their experiences with spreadsheet quality control and with errors affecting decision making. Almost all said spreadsheet errors are common.

Quality control was usually informal and applied to the analysis and/or decision, not just the spreadsheet per se. Most respondents could cite instances of errors directly leading to bad decisions, but opinions differ as to whether the consequences of spreadsheet errors are severe.

Some thought any big errors would be so obvious as to be caught by even informal review. Others suggest that spreadsheets inform but do not make decisions, so errors do not necessarily lead one for one to bad decisions. Still, many respondents believed spreadsheet errors were a significant problem and that more formal spreadsheet quality control could be beneficial.

Full version Available
Sample
Commonly mentioned errors
Commonly mentioned errors

All but one respondent reported encountering errors in spreadsheets.

The most commonly mentioned spreadsheet error types were:

  • Inaccurate data (76%).
  • Errors inherited from reuse of spreadsheets (49%).
  • Model errors (33%).
  • Errors in the use of functions (also 33%).
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