Google Sheets v Microsoft Excel: A Comparison of the Behaviour and Performance of Spreadsheet Users

Work in Progress
Karl Mernagh; Kevin McDaid

Spreadsheet technology has traditionally been limited to a single user operating in a desktop environment and working in an isolated environment. With the advent of Cloud Computing, a paradigm shift has occurred in the way users utilise the collaborative sharing and communication of their work in both an educational and business environment. The opportunities for people to cooperate on multiple spreadsheets at the same time and in real time have grown significantly. However, the behaviour and performance of users working in this new paradigm has not been explored to a great extent in scientific. In comparison to desktop spreadsheet technologies such as Excel, Cloud based spreadsheet technologies have only started to be investigated in relation to user behaviour and performance.

The purpose of this paper is to examine user interaction with Cloud based spreadsheets compared to desktop based spreadsheets. Specifically, we have focused on the leading technologies in these fields, namely Microsoft Excel and Google Sheets.

This paper investigates the effectiveness and efficiency of user interaction with traditional Excel spreadsheets and Google Sheets using a group of third level business students that have been trained in both applications. The students were randomly assigned to a technology and then asked to complete a list of standard spreadsheet tasks. In both cases, user interaction with the spreadsheets was tracked and recorded on a cell by cell basis using automated technology.

The findings of this paper are that users completed a set of basic tasks assigned to them in a quicker and less error prone manner when working with Cloud based Google Sheets compared to desktop based Excel spreadsheets.

Type of Publication: Paper
Conference: PPIG 2014 - 25th Annual Workshop
Publication Year: 2014
Paper #: 1
TitleGoogle Sheets v Microsoft Excel: A Comparison of the Behaviour and Performance of Spreadsheet Users
Publication TypePaper
AuthorsMernagh, K, McDaid, K
PPIG Workshop: 
2014-06-WIP