9 challenges with Excel
Excel is admirable. We agree on this.
As we handle more information, faster reaction, ad-hoc analysis are expected Excel is not always capable to serve this environment. It is a major flow but to throw our Excel-knowledge to the dogs is not the solution we offer.
Advanced Budgeting can eliminate technical borders of Excel and resolve many shortcomings and difficulties of planning and reporting processes.
Beside to eliminate repetitive processes, fragile systems of cell hyperlinks and huge amount of manual work there are still other potential in Advanced Budgeting we mention here:
Plan process with Top-Down and/or with Bottom-up
Excel is not designed to allocate data and then collect new versions. There is lack of process control when data is copied and shared multiple times.
You know exactly the workflow of planning in Excel. Companies mostly use top-down approach for target setting and bottom-up data collection. In most cases, employees will get an empty Excel sheet and after that there will be several meetings to approve or reject these budgets.
Advanced Budgeting is capable to handle multiple scenarios. Single source of truth and unified platform solves the difficulties of geographical distance and fragility of input data.
Data input directly to Pivot table and automatized steps support seamless planning process.
Permissions and security
It is difficult to protect data in Excel i.e. payroll and forecasts.
Excel sheets often contain data which are the most confidential and sensitive information of company (i.e. forecast and market data) and these data travel through the e-mail system among users.
Access-controll based on: role, scope of the plan, inner culture or any other aspects. Approval/rejection and data locks are also a built-in function of Advanced Budgeting.
Data validation - Drilling till the source data
Data has to be manually pulled into Excel. With hundreds of changes and isolated platforms, data validation is not possible.
Is this question familiar to you on any steering committee: What kind of costs are exactly allocated into that cost group? What factuals altered plan data?
Altering and loading data directly through Pivot table
Pivot table is for arrange and rearrange data.
Pivot table is a platform for data input: load, write-in, alter figures in Pivot. Advanced Budgeting handles all the background works – new data appears simultaneously in other parts of your plan. (i.e.: when you increase sales volume than cost allocation automatically calculate with this bigger volume).
Switch between facts and plans
It is not easy (or even impossible) to quickly and effectively do history comparisons and variance analysis.
To switch between multiple platforms and working in personal budgeting Excel sheet can easily lead to errors. Creating a separated Excel sheet especially for comparison? Working on three or four monitor at the same time?
Mitigate risk! Advanced Budgeting provides automatic loading processes from any system. Current and historical data from source system is up to date on a centralized solution. This also can resolve the difficulties of version change in ERP systems which usually involves storing different periods in a different databases.
Possible, but functions are so limited that it’s not worth starting a rolling forecast in Excel.
Creating a separated Excel sheet for rolling forecast is a normal practice at a company. Problems start when we want to change the settings in the meantime: level of details, to identify the object and the value drivers, reconsider time frame etc.
In Advaced Budgeting you can
- create connection between real-time market trends and your strategic goals,
- increase accuracy with automatic data transmission from “Single Point of Truth”.
Planning frameworks can be built on driver-based and project-based: see financials and operational figures of the future in each quarter or month etc.
Manageable size of reports
Huge spreadsheets circulate within the organization. Data loss, damage of cell hyperlinks, slipping of formulas is necessary.
Reports are shared in Excel spreadsheets via e-mails. Have you ever thought about how much extra storage space your company needs for double triple or (more) time stored data?
No more duplication or missing data points. This function is just a result of common database management. Excel sheets do not operate as database: this role is performed by the SQL server behind Advanced Budgeting. Excel is only an input-output interface.
Customize report promptly – Do it your way
Dynamic reporting is very limited. Quick validation of structural changes in reports don’t work. Is Power Point really the obvious tool for creating management report?
Planning in lockstep - align isolated department
Each department and subsidiaries work with their own report. It is time-consuming and risky to collect data from separated sources manually to see the big picture.
Beside the risk of missing database management and lack of unified business intelligence, departments plan isolated from each other.
The multidimensional model allows employees to work with templates rather than isolated departmental reports. Advanced Budgeting loads data from any kind of sources (i.e.: ERP, SAP, Oracle, Navision, Excel, txt, etc.) and share data among departments based on pre-built logic and frequency (i.e.: sales forecast between sales representatives and production)