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It’s NEVER the Time to Move Away from Spreadsheets in the Consolidation Process

January 13, 2016 Mitchell Buchanan  
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Recently I read an article that asked the question, “Is it time for your company to move away from spreadsheets for financial consolidation?” It’s a question that has been asked multiple times before, driving many software vendors to develop solutions that take you away from spreadsheets. In fact, if you look at the consolidation systems landscape, this has become more of the norm than the exception.

This led me to think of all of my experiences with such software solutions and my experiences with spreadsheets. If you think about it, taking a spreadsheet program away from an accountant would be stripping him of what is arguably the most powerful tool in his number-crunching arsenal. That being said, spreadsheets on their own aren’t the best solution forever. They can be cumbersome, difficult for data centralization, and can lead to version control issues—it is also quite a chore to consolidate data across spreadsheets.

While all of these things may be true in the context of separate, disparate spreadsheets, the fact is that  no accountant or finance person is ever going to give spreadsheets up.

If you consider that companies often spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on consolidation software that takes their finance people out of Excel, you would expect that these people would learn to live without their precious spreadsheets. After all, if a company is going to invest that kind of cash into such a terrific solution, it better do just that. Dump your spreadsheets and learn something completely new – that’s the mantra of these solutions.

Yet this is a complete fallacy.

In performing a bit of research, we found a very interesting statistic: while accounting departments attempt to ramp up on these consolidation tools, in the end 70% of these users still relied on their spreadsheets to support their consolidation processes. 70%! That was astonishing, but clearly not surprising. Accountants are not going to have their spreadsheets yanked away from them. So with all the investment in software licensing, training, implementation and support, there was no turning back from the universal software tool of the accountant.

So this begs the question – why move away from spreadsheets at all for your financial consolidation? If you are already vested in such an environment, what is the point in investing in new software that forces you to reinvent the wheel?

At Vena Solutions, we’ve taken this concept to the other extreme. We’ve created a business solution (including consolidation) that centralizes your data using a state-of-the-art, in-memory database and that leverages your existing Excel spreadsheets. We’ve even created and automated processes that perform the most critical of consolidation tasks – including, currency translation, automatic intercompany eliminations, and single and recurring adjusting journal entries.

If you need more complex processes, such as non-controlling interests and handling multiple accounting principles, Vena’s consolidation solution can do those with ease. As far as workflow, approvals and audit trails, all of these are already built into Vena’s solution. Best of all, you get to have your cake and eat it too – you continue to use the tool you know and love, Microsoft Excel.

So before you invest in a solution that tries to take your accountants away from spreadsheets, remember this – no amount of investment is going to force them to give up a tool that they are basically connected at the hip with. With Vena there will never come a time to move away from spreadsheets for financial consolidation.

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