Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Can you trust a spreadsheet?

Recent research suggests 90% of spreadsheets prepared for business contain serious errors. That sounds far too high a figure. If really true, it would rapidly bring about the collapse of capitalism. There's some welcome perspective in this article from Simon Hurst. Extract:

...the spreadsheet on its own is rarely the ‘result’. Instead, the ‘result’ is a Frankenstein like amalgam of human and spreadsheet. The spreadsheet creator is intimately and inextricably linked to their spreadsheet. They know its problems, its weaknesses, its strengths and its vulnerabilities and they almost subconsciously allow and correct for these when they unleash it to the wider world. This highlights a key spreadsheet concern – once the spreadsheet escapes the complete control of its creator, all of its previously disguised horrors are unleashed on an unsuspecting world. The situation is almost always made worse by another similarity with Shelley’s fictional creation – the lack of adequate user documentation.

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