Conduct a simple Google or Bing search on “Excel Financial Reporting” and you’ll find that it returns over 5 million results. People have clearly given it a lot of thought out there. The results include templates, add-ins and even copies of real financial reports that are meant to be modified and reused. There’s certainly a lot of noise out in the digital jungle, but is Excel really the best tool for financial reporting and analysis? I think we’d be utterly remiss if we didn’t consider the other options on the market.
Wait, Do We ACTUALLY Understand It?
Excel is undeniably one of the most popular programs that’s installed on practically every corporate PC, and that’s whether we like it or not. We’re almost forced to love it and use it. Despite being buried in it every day, only 11% of users truly consider themselves to be “power users,” according to Ventana Research. The majority of users rate their skills as simply adequate and can barely attest to the formulas they use or substantiate their methods.
Still, Excel is a very powerful tool (in the right hands) and, as an accountant myself, I have successfully used it for many different purposes during my career. I don’t want to give you the impression that I’m one of those BI elitists who blindly discounts or bashes the application. Having said that, however, I’ve always carried some evenhanded concerns about relying on Excel for all financial reporting and analysis in a company. Should we be considering other programs specifically designed for the task?
Jack Of All Trades?
Excel reminds me of a Swiss Army Knife that has a knife blade, corkscrew, screwdriver and many other tools all built into one. Despite the compactness and versatility, it’s not necessarily the best knife, corkscrew or screwdriver. You might be able to get by in some situations with the Swiss Army Knife, but as the job gets bigger, you need a separate knife, corkscrew and maybe even multiple screwdrivers.
Excel can be viewed the same way – the value is in the package, not necessarily the individual components. For a small company with limited users and needs… click here to access the full article