Creating multiple financial reports for different people for different reasons take much time and honestly, it sucks. No one enjoys it. It is just a pain. There, I said it.
Perhaps it is not so much creating financial reports that are the problem. Most often than not, the problem is that the process of financial reporting and the method used in it is heavy and old-fashioned.
Even though it is 2019, many companies are still trapped in Excel spreadsheets. It blows our minds thinking about the fact that companies with a couple of hundred million in turn over still wrangle with Excel spreadsheets for their financial reporting & analysis.
Now do not get us wrong; we know Excel spreadsheets can do a lot of good things, and it can be used to generate financial reports or budgets or forecasts. The question of whether these financial reports, budgets or forecasts are correct and accurate – that is a different story.
If you are generating your reports using Excel spreadsheets, you must know that it is so easy to make mistakes in these sheets and so hard to spot them. It gets even harder when multiple people have to make inputs on the same sheet because then you are met with problems on which version everyone made their updates on or if someone unintentionally makes mistakes on the sheets like dragging formula across without realizing it or just breaking some of the formula found in it.
Then there is the problem of extracting the data that you need so you can generate the needed reports and then the later problem of maintaining all these spreadsheets. You eventually come to a point when you spend a lot more time trying to verify your figures to ensure it is looking at the right data and to make sure the formulas and links are still correct.
When you are in this situation – generating financial reports feel more burdensome than fun.
This begs the question – how do you make Excel work for financial reporting & analysis?
In an attempt to make a point of this article clear, it is first important to understand the concept that finance professionals are used to Excel. Excel is the programming language of accounting – for good and bad.
It is, therefore, very difficult to get finance people to abandon Excel since they are so used to it. It is a tool they know works and a tool that they have relied on for years. Truthfully, it is not that Excel isn´t useful because it is a powerful tool. The problem lies when you rely on Excel spreadsheets to create financial reports because Excel was never meant to be used that way in the first place.
However, you can still make Excel work for financial reporting & analysis. Take how Performance Canvas Financials – a cloud-based reporting, budgeting & planning software approaches this issue smartly.
Recognizing that Excel is a tool that is so familiar to finance professionals, they use Microsoft Excel as their user interface. What this means is that when you log in to the tool, you have the option to do your inputs either in the web or through Excel add-in.
You might wonder – how could Excel solve the problems of Excel financial reporting? It is fairly simple; Excel is used as a user interface in this software. What this means is that when you log in, you only use Excel as a window to seeing your data. All the formula and business rules are set up in a centralized server. This way,
- You can connect your reporting software to your ERP system for automatic and seamless flow of data
- You eliminate the problems of inaccuracy due to broken formulas or innocent msitakes on the spreadsheets because you can put in business rules that will do self-checks on your figures
- You can design it in a way that you are allowed to drill through or investigate your figures for improved transparency
- The finance team will not have a hard time adopting this tool because on its front end it is still Excel. None of the Excel capabilities are turned off. What you do is just add in menus to make it easier for them and add in templates so they can generate reports faster.
- You can finally now do multi-dimensional financial reporting. This type of reporting is not possible to do with Excel because Excel by nature is two dimensional but because you have a server in the backend that ensures you can have business rules driving reporting and you have as many dimensions as you please in your reports.
- Having a server-based software with Excel user interface allows you to do more deep level reporting and analysis tasks like testing assumptions, performing what if scenarios or doing multi-level allocations.
In short, using a reporting software like Performance Canvas Financials means you can still enjoy using Excel spreadsheets for reporting without having to deal with all the underlying issues associated with Excel such as inaccuracy, data mistrust, complex maintenance, and many more.
Are you curious if this type of set up for financial reporting & analysis can work for your organization?
Visit www.performancecanvas.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org to see a free online demo of Performance Canvas Financials. There is still hope in improving financial reporting & analysis without completely ditching Excel.
Visit www.performancecanvas.com for more information.
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