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    Quotable Quotes      

The collective wisdom of EuSpRIG authors distilled into a few succinct quotes to sum the whole issue up. Permission is not required to reproduce these items providing the EuSpRIG source and copyright is acknowledged and the Arxiv reference is given.

Yew Sprig
    Ample Evidence      
    “Research on spreadsheet errors began over fifteen years ago. During that time, there has been ample evidence demonstrating that spreadsheet errors are common and nontrivial. Quite simply, spreadsheet error rates are comparable to error rates in other human cognitive activities and are caused by fundamental limitations in human cognition, not mere sloppiness. Nor does ordinary ‘being careful’ eliminate errors or reduce them to acceptable levels”. Ray Panko, 2000 []      
    “The case of failed Jamaican commercial banks demonstrates how poor archiving can lead to weaknesses in spreadsheet control that contribute to operational risk”. V. Lemieux, 2005 []      
    "Most spreadsheet models rely upon a fairly lengthy series of explicit or more usually, implicit, assumptions. Not least of these is the Ceteris Paribus assumption of all other things being (or remaining) equal. Clearly the assumptions underlying many spreadsheet models now no longer apply". Grenville J. Croll, 2009 []      
    Credit Derivatives      

“Spreadsheets are particularly heavily used in the more innovative and hence more recent parts of the market, particularly credit derivatives, an area of the market with a significant daily turnover”. Grenville J. Croll, 2009 []

"This market grew very quickly due to the ease with which it was possible to design and promulgate opaque financial instruments based on large spreadsheets with critical flaws in their key assumptions." Grenville J. Croll, 2009 []

"Complex financial instruments such as CDO’s are implemented within, and valued by, large and complex spreadsheets. CDO’s and other credit derivatives played a leading role in collapse of the global financial system”. Grenville Croll []

    “There is a literature on denial, which focuses on illness and the fact that many people with terminal illnesses deny the seriousness of their condition or the need to take action. Apparently, what is very difficult and unpleasant to do is difficult to contemplate. Although denial has only been studied extensively in the medical literature, it is likely to appear whenever required actions are difficult or onerous. Given the effortful nature of spreadsheet testing, developers may be victims of denial, which may manifest itself in the form of overconfidence in accuracy so that extensive testing will not be needed”. Ray Panko, 2003 []      

"...document, then implement..." Jocelyn Paine []

    Eight Principles of Spreadsheet Engineering      

“Principle 1: Best practices can have a large impact
 Principle 2: Lifecycle Planning is important
 Principle 3: A priori requirements specification is beneficial
 Principle 4: Predicting future use is important
 Principle 5: Design matters
 Principle 6: Best practices are situation-dependent
 Principle 7: Programming is a social, not an individual activity
 Principle 8: Deployment of best practices is difficult and consumes resources”

Tom Grossman, 2002 []

    “Spreadsheets have been shown to be fallible, yet they underpin the operation of the financial system. If the uncontrolled use of spreadsheets continues to occur in highly leveraged markets and companies, it is only a matter of time before another ‘Black Swan’ event occurs [Taleb, 2001], causing catastrophic loss. It is completely within the realms of possibility that a single, large, complex but erroneous spreadsheet could directly cause the accidental loss of a corporation or institution, significantly damaging the City of London’s reputation”. Grenville J. Croll, 2009 []      
    Future of Spreadsheet Engineering      
    “Our goal is to see spreadsheet research mature into an important, widely-respected field, which generates research results that are routinely used in business. This goal will be achieved when spreadsheet developers regularly consider which spreadsheet engineering methodology they will apply to a particular spreadsheet. A spreadsheet engineering methodology provides prescriptive recommendations for the choices made throughout the lifecycle of a spreadsheet”. Tom Grossman and Ozgur Ozluk, 2004 []      
    How Do You Know Your Spreadsheet Is Right?      
    "I followed accepted best-practice in developing my spreadsheet. I designed my work carefully, and reviewed it when I was finished, using a commercial auditing tool. I tested the spreadsheet using known results, according to a written test plan, and compared to other similar work. Knowing that the result was important, I had Bob, Mary and Joe peer-review my work. There could still be mistakes, but I was at great pains to prevent them." Phil L. Bewig, 2005 []      
    “The spreadsheet has been used as a decision support tool for a considerable number of years but still suffers from significant defects in terms of the way that they ‘inform’, or arguably ‘misinform’, decision makers. Spreadsheets, at least in the hands of the typical end user, have proved to be less effective as decision support tools than may have been expected. Although they apparently offer decision makers the ability to develop models of business problems and to test various possibilities by manipulating the data in the model, two key problem areas emerge in practice. These areas relate to errors made in the mechanical production of the spreadsheet and also to errors in the translation of the problem situation into a model that is then represented as a spreadsheet. These two causes of error can lead to a position where decision makers may act in the belief that decisions can be made with confidence on the output from the spreadsheet despite evidence to the contrary.” Banks & Monday, 2001, []      
    Misleading and Dangerous      
    “Spreadsheets appear to be a relatively intuitive tool that are perceived to be deceptively easy to use and although extensively used by organisations have often proved to be misleading at best and dangerous at worst. The spreadsheet itself has some limitations in its ability to act as a vehicle for the development of complex business models and users may be relatively naïve in the development of models. Their basis for developing the model may be based on a unique worldview, or contain deliberate or unintended biases. The model may have been deliberately tampered with to generate acceptable figures for a specific instance to preserve a perceived ‘expert’ label for the developer”. Banks & Monday, 2001, []      
    “Despite strong evidence of widespread errors, spreadsheet developers rarely subject their spreadsheets to post-development testing to reduce errors. This may be because spreadsheet developers are overconfident in the accuracy of their spreadsheets. This conjecture is plausible because overconfidence is present in a wide variety of human cognitive domains, even among experts". Ray Panko, 2003 []      
    Reducing Spreadsheet Errors      
    “Now that the reality of spreadsheet error has been established, the next step is to ask what we can do to reduce spreadsheet errors. Unfortunately, only one approach to error reduction has been demonstrated to be effective. This is code inspection, in which a group of spreadsheet developers checks a spreadsheet cell-by-cell to discover errors. Even this exhausting and expensive process will catch only about 80% of all errors”. Ray Panko, 2000 []      

"The reliability of a spreadsheet is essentially the accuracy of the data that it produces, and is compromised by the errors found in approximately 94% of spreadsheets. Understandability refers to how easily a user or auditor can make sense of the spreadsheet, and is fundamental to the implementation of Sarbanes- Oxley." Ruth McKeever et al []

    Reliability & GDP      
    “Even if history holds bad spreadsheeting entirely blameless for the present mayhem, the fact that spreadsheeting is so widely used while at the same time so error prone is a strong indication that if a way could be found to improve reliability, global GNP would step noticeably upwards”. Angus Dunn, 2009 []      
    Spreadsheet Engineering      
    “Spreadsheet Engineering is concerned with all aspects of creating spreadsheets”. Tom Grossman, 2002 []      
    Spreadsheet Maintenance      

"In many organisations, changes to the workings and calculations of a spreadsheet are left relatively unmanaged. A requirement to create new documentation or test the changes is often left to the conscience of the spreadsheet owner. Consequently managers, operational risk managers or auditors are frequently unaware that a modification has even been made." John Hunt []

"Left unmanaged, a spreadsheet that was once well designed, documented, tested and implemented, may well become prone to significant unknown errors over time". John Hunt []

    The Role of Spreadsheets      

"...spreadsheets will always fill the void between what a business needs today and the formal installed systems..." Mel Glass et al []

    Things are Rather Different Now      
    “Pettifor, [2003] was confident in saying that ‘the world is not falling apart through spreadsheet errors’ - in 2003 it wasn’t falling apart. In 2009 things are rather different and in due course history will allocate the proportion of blame attributable to bad spreadsheeting”. Angus Dunn, 2009 []      
    “Spreadsheets are integral to the function and operation of the global financial system”. FSA Regulator, 2005 []      
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