How Common And Dangerous Are Microsoft Excel Errors?

Excel 2013, Excel function tutorials

Excel is fascinating in so many ways. Yes, it’s a simple spreadsheet software but it’s also incredibly powerful which explains why it’s used both for the easiest/most simple exercises but also to build incredibly complex spreadsheets. One of the dangers of using Excel compared with more “custom” built software is that it is more vulnerable to human error. Why? Because every person that has access to the spreadsheet can end up making a change that would make the spreadsheet behave incorrectly. I read a fascinating piece by the New York Times Paul Krugman ( where he discussed a few recent blunders made in Excel spreadsheets:

Researchers from the University of Massachusetts published a paper that described the critical level of debt for any government which influenced how a few countries ended up getting run.. turns out that several years later, after being asked to look back at their data, they noticed a coding error in their spreadsheet…

Last year, when JP Morgan ended up announcing a monster loss of several billion dollars in its London office, the reason that was given to explain why risk management did not catch it was a problem in the excel spreadsheet!!

It seems crazy to think that major banks, NASA, governments and other entities still rely on Excel but it is reality. That is certainly one more reason for all of us to gain a better knowledge and understanding of Excel. Yes, the recent movement to learn how to code at a very young age makes a lot of sense but in reality, an even bigger problem is the lack of education to using Excel in schools when it is a skill that turns out to be useful in a very large proportion of schools. I personally know that I wish I would have learned much more about Excel functions, building macros, etc. It would have greatly helped me when I started my career.. I did end up learning those skills but the earlier, the better right?

Do you know of any high school (or maybe even earlier) that does a decent job at this?


Look Good at Work and Become Indispensable Become an Excel Pro and Impress Your Boss