Why Excel is the Best and Worst Tool for your Strategic Budgeting Process

Microsoft Excel is one of the most valued tools for strategic budgeting and most companies, large and small, rely on it for their everyday budgeting and forecasting. There are some significant barriers to relying solely on Excel spreadsheets and a heavy reliance on spreadsheets to support essential financial process can be problematic for a number of reasons.

  1. Lack of Automation. Spreadsheets are vulnerable to human error. Just one incorrect number or formula can throw off an entire forecast, skewing the total numbers. Human error can happen frequently, particularly in the short timelines most are given to complete their budgets.
  2. Security. Think of the data being processed in those spreadsheets; is any of it sensitive company material? And, who has access to it? All employees? IT personnel? Does your organization currently have a system in place to ensure that only those who need to see the numbers can do so?
  3. Consolidation. If your spreadsheets exist in isolation from one another, the time necessary for consolidation is significantly higher, as are the resources required to do that consolidation. Additionally, to make the most effective decisions, you need these numbers in real-time. Excel, for the most part, just doesn’t give you that ability.
  4. Version control. When you have no version control, you end up with errors and more troubleshooting than is necessary. One of the best ways to increase efficiency is by having more control over your system.
  5. Backups. If you’re operating without a backup system in place, you’re really just asking for trouble. There are too many what-ifs in this scenario, what-ifs that can cause havoc.

So, how can you regain control and correct the problem? Is there a solution?

A quick Google search will show that anywhere from 60% to 80% of all organizations use Microsoft Excel as their main planning, budgeting, and forecasting tool. So, it isn’t about ditching Excel at all… Excel is a great tool and popular for a very good reason. It is about optimizing Excel in the business budget planning process.

What if you had a technology that makes Excel better?

A survey of CFOs done by Private Equity International (PEI) found that technology is a key component of the CFO’splans for the future, especially with respect to budgeting. The survey found that 81% of CFOs feel that investing in data can help them replace spreadsheets, but many are wary to replace spreadsheets due to the complexity and customization involved.

Instead of using technology to replace spreadsheets, we suggest merging technology with spreadsheets for the most viable business insights. Adopting or incorporating modern planning solutions means not only using spreadsheets to the best of their abilities but also embracing the technology that allows for the familiarity of Excel while increasing your ability for more sophisticated modeling and analysis.

At Express, we utilize True Sky for budgeting, planning, and forecasting for both Sage Intacct and Microsoft Dynamics GP. True Sky gives users the familiar interface of Excel while increasing its power–making it more adaptable and flexible so you have better visibility and less room for error.

Want to learn more… contact Express Information Systems or just give us a call!

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