What’s So Bad About Spreadsheets?

Daptiv’s Dave Blumhorst Divulges their Hidden Downsides on Wired.com 

One of the most widely used tools for project management in software teams today is the spreadsheet. They are ubiquitous and heavily relied on by many organizations to manage data and make critical business decisions. Because spreadsheets are easy to use they may appear, at first glance, to be an excellent tool for independent analysis. However, the perception of the ease-of-use of spreadsheets is to some extent an illusion. As any project manager will tell you, they are often stretched far beyond the boundaries of their functionality. With limited scalability and reliability, they are also constrained by an organization’s ability to invest in additional technology capabilities to improve their trustworthiness.

Although fairly cheap and easy to use, spreadsheets can’t often be trusted as they are extremely vulnerable to errors. Recent research found most of the spreadsheets used by organizations contain errors—and that a considerable number of those errors are serious. It may be easy to get an answer from a spreadsheet; however, it is not necessarily easy to get the right answer. Particularly if you factor in potential human data entry errors, spreadsheets can often do more harm than good. These hidden problems can hinder the success of a project and create more costs than were initially budgeted.

Daptiv’s Dave Blumhorst recently discussed the nine inherent flaws of spreadsheets, and how they’re hampering the success of PPM professionals today on Wired’s Innovation Insights. To get a better understanding of how businesses can embrace alternative technologies to avoid spreadsheet limitations, you can read Dave’s entire piece on Wired.com.

We would also like to hear about your experiences using spreadsheets. Have you run into issues using spreadsheets to manage projects in your workplace? If so, what types of problems have you faced and what solutions have you found to alleviate them? Feel free to post your thoughts in the comments section below, or reach out to us on Twitter at @Daptiv with the hashtag #SpreadSheetFailure