Excel is used by business owner’s accountants and managers everywhere to produce reports and to forecast income, expenditure and cash flow. If you want to analyse a load of numbers or do some complex modelling on a static data set, it’s hard to beat. But running a company involves using data from across the business. And that’s where using individual, disconnected spreadsheets creates all kinds of excel hell:
- Spreadsheets mistakes are common
Spreadsheets require a large amount of manual data entry to maintain, making them susceptible to error. It’s estimated that 20-40% of spreadsheets contain errors. Copy and pasting errors, accidental deletion of cells, changing formulas, updating interrelated spreadsheets that share cell values – all too familiar? There’s no way to debug and there’s no way to track changes. Numbers get overwritten without you even knowing.
- Spreadsheets can suck up a lot of time
You are asked to measure some key financial, sales or operational metric and the project builds momentum, more people are involved and spreadsheets get emailed back and forward and edited by many users. You wonder which version you are looking at. And errors go unnoticed, until one day… they don’t.
- Spreadsheet reports can present a huge amount of data contained within an absurd amount of reports and can be sent out with little consideration of the readers. There is often a general lack of agreement or direction on what reports and metrics are important to the business. More is not better. Many staff can’t interpret the results from large spreadsheets and pivot tables.
- Spreadsheets are unfit for agile businesses
With the rate at which the business environment is evolving, organisations need to be agile and responsive to changes in order to survive and thrive. They require instant access to up-to-date information so that business owners and managers can make decisions quickly and accurately. Relying on spreadsheets could mean that your organisation is months behind on reports and that you’re missing out on timely and critical information.
- Spreadsheets reports are often delivered without any form of context or insights.
Or where comments are presented, they are often presented separately from data and charts. The resulting flicking between documents leads to confusion and irritation, so people stop looking at them.
- Spreadsheets are not designed for teamwork
Planning, reporting, budgeting and forecasting are rarely one-man projects. Plans require collaboration from multiple parties to supply their input and analyse data together but spreadsheets are not designed for collaboration. Attaching spreadsheets in emails and passing it around takes too much time, leaves room for errors and a high chance of someone working with an older document.
- Spreadsheet reports take time to generate each month.
Individual spreadsheets from different data sources are time consuming to consolidate every month or week. The data may be outdated before you even get the reports. The lack of real-time data may harm your business and your ability to make decisions.
- Bottlenecks can form around key individuals
Often only a few key individuals have the skills and detailed knowledge to produce reports and analyses. If they get overloaded, go on leave etc. delays occur. And risk is increased – what you need to know today, you won’t find out until next week.
How to get out of Excel hell
If you are still using manual Excel spreadsheets, it’s probably not because you think they are the best tools for the job, but rather how it’s been done for years. Until now, the option for more powerful tools was to sell your firstborn to pay for Oracle, Tableau, Qlik or another big app.
But now there are other affordable and accessible options, even for SMEs, that will bring your dry charts to life and make sense of your data. A Business Intelligence (BI) system can deliver you what you want, when you want it, entirely automatically.
Microsoft Power BI is on track to have an equally as significant impact on the corporate and SME landscape as Excel has. This is a result of four things: cost, the ability to share, familiarity, and being Open-Sourced. Being supported by Microsoft, the price of BI has dropped dramatically. So much so that everyone can have a Power BI subscription and reports can be made accessible across the whole business, anywhere and on any device. Users of Excel can adapt easily, and being Open-Sourced means there is becoming a big community of skilled users.
Business data can be pulled into Power BI from various internal and external sources for rapid manipulation and visualisation of that data into interactive graphs or dashboards. This data visualisation makes it easier to get fresh insight into the data, without being an excel geek. That means managers on the ground can have access and insights into the data they need to make informed decisions.
Better still, use BI alongside a forecasting tool like Futrli
- 3-way cashflow forecasting: you can set budgets, compare what-if scenarios, visualise your performance against targets and more!
- Clear visuals empower the team and ensure that every stakeholder knows where you are going and how
- Understand the business, inside out, effortlessly so that you can turn insights into action
- You cannot run a successful business without a fluid, operational forecast. It’s your navigation system in a storm.
How does it work?
- Good forecasting software should work with all accounting software. Some auto-sync daily with Xero or other systems. You shouldn’t need to wait until the end of the month for updates
- You can slice and dice your business data any way you like with flexible design options and daily, weekly, monthly or annual reporting and custom periods
- Works where you are – an app on your phone or on-line.
With an all-in-one financial forecasting and reporting application like Futrli together with Business Intelligence you can be in control of your business. You can effortlessly understand today, forecast tomorrow and take action to:
- Give better customer experiences
- Increase sales
- Reduce cost
- Improve Profits
- Increase cash flow
- Create a more valuable business
Get in touch today and we will show you how you can use the latest tools to begin your escape from Excel Hell.