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Are Companies Overreliant on Excel?

December 28, 2021 | Marisa Iacobucci  
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Can you believe it has been more than 34 years since the initial release of Microsoft Excel? Or how about the fact that Microsoft has slowed down on updates since moving its Office products to the cloud 10+ years ago?

Even though there are other programs like Excel, it remains one of the most used spreadsheet applications across every industry imaginable. This is due in large part to its ease of use, familiar interface and integration with other Microsoft products.

But there’s something you need to know: Many CFOs—along with other chief-level executives—are finding that their finance teams are too reliant on Excel, often for tasks that Excel isn’t well-suited to handle. This isn’t to say there’s no place for Excel in today’s work environment. However, the way companies work is changing quickly, which has many executives concerned about heavy reliance on Excel. 

But is this actually true? Let’s dive deeper.

What’s the Problem?

Why would any company want to replace Excel after so many years of use? Why would any company want to move away from a product that’s been a market leader for decades?

A lot of it has to do with a shift toward remote work. For example, the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020 forced many companies to abruptly shift to remote-only work. With that, finance executives became increasingly more aware of the pitfalls of managing finances and closing books remotely. 

Some of the most common concerns include:

  • Inputting data manually: This is worrisome on two fronts. One, it’s time-consuming, especially in large companies where there’s a lot of data to be managed. Secondly, manual data input improves the likelihood of errors going unnoticed, particularly when employees are not in the same physical space.
  • Complicated formulas: For some, using Excel is second nature. But for others, the formulas are complicated and the results are not always easy to interpret. It only takes one error—even a minor one—to throw the results of a formula out of kilter. Adding to this, if only one person knows how to use the formula, working in a remote environment (see above) brings more challenges. 
  • High learning curve: You read that right. Even though Excel is known for being simple to use, there’s a high learning curve in a business setting. There’s more to Excel than inputting numbers and sharing them with coworkers. Entering calculations, calling up functions and understanding Excel syntax takes time. Also, it increases the risk of both errors and employee frustration. 

These are all valid concerns, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that companies are overreliant on Excel. Instead, it’s more likely that companies are looking in the wrong places for the wrong solutions.

What’s the Answer? 

Imagine for a second that your company or department is heavily reliant on Excel. Also, imagine that you share some or all of the concerns mentioned above.

What should you do? Is it necessary to leave Excel in the past forever?

There are other programs like Excel to consider, but if they were any better you would already be using them. So that leaves you with one of two options:

  • Ongoing training to minimize the risk of mistakes and maximiser performance
  • Integration with another tool

Vena is designed with the idea that companies are not overreliant on Excel. Through a variety of features, it’s able to solve and remove room for error all while keeping teams running within the familiar Excel interface. 

By integrating with Vena, you create Excel efficiencies as opposed to searching for a workaround. These include:

Automatic Data Input

Through Vena, you can connect Excel with all your data sources for automatic data input. This saves your team the time and stress associated with manual input. 

There’s no limit to the amount and type of business data sources—both internal and external—that you can integrate to make for a more streamlined, secure and collaborative work environment. 

Lower Risk of User Error

With automatic data input, there’s less risk of user error. Once you have an automatic system in place, the Vena Growth Engine does all the work for you. 

With a lower risk of user error, you and your team have more confidence in your ability to perform at a high level. And with this, you can also empower your team to do more in less time. 

Familiarity 

In addition to the time and cost associated with switching to a new data collection and analysis program, you can integrate Vena along with its powerful planning capabilities and continue to work in the Excel interface that’s so familiar to you. 

Enhanced Accountability

Do you struggle to pinpoint error sources? Does this result in the same mistakes being made, time after time? 

No accountability is a big problem that can bog down an entire organisation. With Vena, you have a single source of truth so you can create accountability throughout your company. 

Increased accountability brings an increase in work performance. 

Understanding What Works for Your Company 

Excel holds a huge piece of the spreadsheet market share pie and there’s no reason to believe this will change in the near future.

Remember, it’s not so much that companies are overreliant on Excel. It’s that companies don’t know where to look for the solutions to their Excel-related problems.

If you’re struggling to decide if Excel will work for your organisation in the future, contact us to request a demo and to learn more about Vena’s integrated Complete Planning capabilities within the Excel platform. 

 

Marisa Iacobucci

Marisa Iacobucci

Marisa is a Senior Copy Editor at Vena.

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