When we say spreadsheets are the future of financial reporting, we’re not talking about just any spreadsheet.
No one is saying that spreadsheet columns and rows are always pretty—things can get messy when you start to outgrow Excel—but suggesting that Excel can’t be used across the organization? That’s just ugly.
Bernard Marr, author a book on big data in the enterprise, recent published a post on Forbes which he titled, “Excel Reporting: 5 Reasons It Is Bad For Business.” Some of those reasons are debatable — in Marr’s view, many employees outside of finance don’t like Excel, and can’t make sense of them – but others are laughable. This includes the notion that Excel spreadsheets aren’t easy to share or that they can’t store historical data. The whole point of using Excel as a front-end tool for an enterprise platform is based on the fact sharing and looking at historical data has never been easier.
“Employees want to be included in discussions about overall business performance, and that means that key performance indicators and other data must be communicated to large groups of people at every level of the business,” he writes. “There’s nothing inherently wrong with spreadsheets; they’re excellent tools for many different jobs. But data visualization and data communication is not one of them.”
Of course, spreadsheets don’t have to be the final mechanism by which strategic insights are presented to other parts of the business, but there’s no question that they can outperform almost anything else. In fact, this is a good time to note the power of Microsoft Excel in particular. Even though spreadsheets are often getting criticized in general, there are plenty of other companies trying to come up with an “Excel killer.” A recent post on Business2Community actually went through a detailed look at Excel vs. Google Sheets, for instance, and weighed everything from ease of use to security. The winner? Microsoft Excel!
While Google Sheets does have all the basics and a few of the functionalities of Excel, it still has a long way to go in terms of versatility. As a native app, Microsoft Excel can do pretty much anything. You can get it to solve Sudoku puzzles for you, or even power a Tetris game. You can automate most of your work, and you can collect an unreal amount of data without any hiccups or crashes.
Excel spreadsheets aren’t perfect. They don’t need to be – that’s why there are more sophisticated cloud-based CPM tools you can layer on top of them and bring value across the organization.