11-30-2011 04:46 PM
I just read a an interesting article: 'Two Corpuses of Spreadsheet Errors' by Raymond R. Panko (http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.98.5920&rep=rep1&type=pdf)
It outlines a case title 'The Wall' as follows:
You are to build a spreadsheet model to help
you create a bid to build a wall. You will offer two
options -- lava rock or brick. Both walls will be
built by crews of two. Crews will work three 8-
hour days to build either type of wall. The wall
will be 20 feet long, 6 feet tall, and 2 feet thick.
Wages will be $10 per hour. You will have to add
20% to wages to cover fringe benefits. Lava rock
will cost $3 per cubic foot. Brick will cost $2 per
cubic foot. Your bid must add a profit margin of
30% to your expected cost.
To me this is looks like a nice opportunity to train my use of the tools available in SAS to produce Excel Spreadsheets.
Can you create a program to pass the various conditions described above and generate a nice Excel document, the prettier, the better
11-30-2011 07:04 PM
I totally disagree that the errors the paper's authors found could be attributable to spreadsheet errors. The same errors they describe could be made in SAS or any other tool.
I'm also not saying that there aren't problems that can result from the way that spreadsheets function, just that I think the only thing the authors discovered was that people often don't know how to correctly solve problems.
As far as I could see, not one of the errors they mentioned concerning the wall problem were related specifically to spreadsheets.
11-30-2011 07:17 PM
I completely agree with your assessment however I take to walk-away slightly differently. Because of the likelyhood of an individual to make a simple error when generating a speadsheet the proper effort to develop a program for a standard report with given inputs should be created. I view 'the wall' as a pretty simple invoice generating application that requires little specialized knoweldge to produce an application for.