In the Kingdom of CPM Usability, Excel is King

In the Kingdom of CPM Usability, Excel is King

December 16, 2016 |

A good rewording of the “if a tree falls in the forest” phrase could be “if you buy a solution but no one uses it, is it a solution at all?”

As we’ve discussed in the past, corporate performance management (CPM) solutions are becoming a priority for organizations of all sizes with the need to expedite, automate, and better their financial processes. However, a solution is only as valuable as it is liked and adopted by your team—to be of any value, technologies need to be familiar, intuitive and practical.

Take for example Excel, arguably the most universal software of the past three decades. When business tools are intuitive and use familiar interfaces like that of Excel, adoption increases significantly because users can quickly create value as opposed to spending most of their time learning the ins and outs a new tool.

According to the recent Gartner Critical Capabilities for Strategic Corporate Performance Management Solutions report, “the ability for each solution to support complex financial budgeting, planning and modeling is highly important, but usability and product satisfaction have a major impact on determining the business value each solution provides.”

Usability increases when you keep some of the things that work—and that your team is used to—while eliminating what doesn’t. In the CPM world that means sticking with Excel, the omnipresent tool loved by virtually every finance pro, while adding features like version control, automation and workflow capabilities that it lacks.

Many CPM solutions in the marketplace today encourage replacing spreadsheets to streamline business processes, making customers do away with the spreadsheets, templates, models and formulas that they spent decades perfecting.

These sort of counterintuitive and disruptive tools always force users to go back to spreadsheets in one way or another. In fact, 81% of companies supplement their CPM systems with Excel, according to BPM Partners. Bringing data out of the secure, controlled environment of such “replace Excel” solutions generates the very problems—version control, data integrity issues—that drove your team to a CPM solution in the first place.

The best way to go about CPM and ensure high user adoption? Stick to a CPM solution with native Excel that adds security, scalability, and high-performance analysis to the templates and reports your team is already using. Build on top what they already know and love.

That’s the secret for increased user usability.

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