Over the last 10 years or so, you’re likely deaf if you haven’t heard someone stating “Excel is dead”. Yet whenever I engage with teams or businesses struggling with their data, Excel is the heart and soul of the solution, just after the trusted whiteboard & pen. Some things may never change!
Horses for courses … it’s about using the right tools, at the right time, for the right purpose. In fact, problems typically arise when Excel is the only ‘accounting’ system, or is not implemented as an integrated solution. This is where inefficiencies and risks lie – I’m sure we’ve all wasted a day or two building a report pack and insights, only to find out the data has been updated so time to start again (shoot me now), or battling with messy CSVs and upload limits.
Whilst unconnected, you’re bound to experience this pain sooner or later. Finance teams are embracing the use of cutting-edge technology, looking to avoid repeats of the past, but too often we see them getting caught up with all the shiny new toys, forgetting what their client’s need. Such as the insight they actually gain, the usability of the tools or the best flexibility for cleaning, preparing, and consuming the data however they wish.
In my opinion, no conversation about turning data into insights, to drive more informed decisions should start with software limitations, hence the use of the whiteboard & pen. And in business, it is very rare to find a one size fits all solution, so flexibility will always be key. And last, but certainly not least, training to understand the outputs should not be a requirement, it should be obvious because I gave you the design ideas. Your team may be excited by all the cloud-based niche apps and badges (or maybe not considering future usefulness), but can you expect business owners to be? I know what software I’ve been asked most about in interviews before.
This is where we come in, connecting the data you need, with the tools you already know and love.
So how does connecting Excel help?
Firstly, this can accelerate your move to the cloud, reducing training and functionality gaps, pleasing all types of users whilst helping you set up & onboard faster, and remain compliant under digital record keeping rules. Think bulk setups, clients that prefer data entry in spreadsheets, operational systems with no API integrations, just some of the typical excuses that hold users back.
Ongoing, it will enable you to automate your accounting tasks, I’m talking period end routines, prepayments, accruals, tax and payroll journals, automated bespoke & practice wide reporting – essential in remaining a real time trusted advisor providing accurate insights.
Meeting future client needs
And finally, in a lot of circumstances, it can keep you working when a business grows beyond these prescribed limits; how do you analyse on 2 or more tracking categories, on both your profit and loss and balance sheet, viewing these reports & understandings in multiple different styles, instantly refreshed, across a group of consolidated companies. All this automation coming from just one connection.
Access to expert help
There’s also bigger benefits to be had, the fact that it is the most successful software tool ever built, has had over 1.1b (yes that’s billion) downloads, and more data and uses thrown at it than anything else not only helps in making it incredibly flexible and powerful, but has also created the largest pool of knowledge and experts with a community spirit of helping get stuff done. The chances are you, and most of the digitally literate people you’ve met will not only understand Excel, they’ll have it installed on a computer or two too. And you never have to search too hard or far to find someone if you don’t have the knowledge you need, our expert community is a great place to start! And if it’s sexy interactive visuals you’re after, Power BI is just one beautiful click away from the comfort of your spreadsheet.
To be clear, I’m a firm believer in using the right tool for the right job, I just love the limitless opportunities Microsoft’s suite offers to me and the ability to solve the challenges our users are facing. It allows me to feel human and relevant as the world is moving to digital automation. I get to test the accounting knowledge I’ve picked up throughout the years and tailor solutions to individual needs. Most of all, it means I get the chance to say YES to more than ever before and remain in control.
That’s why we’re partnering with finance teams and data experts that are already superb in delivering solutions to individual client needs, showing them a more efficient, automated way to increase their impact through the tools they already have. Is that the way it should be? I welcome opposing views and challenges but am still waiting to be convinced otherwise.