Human errors while using spreadsheets have been documented all over the world. They can be costly and embarrassing. There are links below to some highly publicized mistakes for those who want to delve into the details, as well as a report on the most common types of mistakes made.
The amazing flexibility of spreadsheet tools is, in itself, the very reason mistakes occur. Humans are fallible, and too often there are not enough resources available to build in the necessary review and quality checks needed to counterbalance the risks of human errors.
Quite simply, increased automation decreases the potential impact of the single largest contributor to spreadsheet mistakes, i.e., humans. For automation to be effective in reducing errors, the repetitive tasks requiring human intervention in utilizing spreadsheet tools must be eliminated. The automation must be complete enough that the human touch is reduced to only data input resulting in a narrowing of potential errors to the adage, garbage in – garbage out. The common approach for such automation is the use of algorithms, as popularized by the Rubik’s Cube.
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PE Fund Adviser Sanctioned by SEC for Fee Calculation Errors – Ordered to Disgorge Fees and Pay Fine, Totaling Nearly $1.2 Million | Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton LLP – JDSupra
Human error costs TransAlta $24-million on contract bids – The Globe and Mail
Kodak restates, adds $9 million to loss – MarketWatch
Excel error leaves Barclays with more Lehman assets than it bargained for | Computerworld
MI5 makes 1,061 bugging errors | Software | The Guardian
AstraZeneca reaffirms outlook after mistaken release | Reuters
London Whale Part Result of Excel Error (businessinsider.com)
Magellan Error Is Explained – The New York Times (nytimes.com)