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Is Excel Holding You Back?

Posted by David Perritt on Jan 22, 2018 9:26:00 AM

image demonstrating the problem with Excel spreadsheetsIs Excel a dated method of data crunching that is holding back rather than advancing your company? CFOs from Fortune 500 companies are insisting that staff stop using Excel. What does that mean for the pharmaceutical industry, and why is there push back against the popular spreadsheet software? Finance chiefs say the ubiquitous spreadsheet software that revolutionized accounting in the 1980s cannot kept up with the demands of contemporary corporate finance units. After all, just like hair metal bands, the 80s are long gone and pharmaceutical companies need to advance with the times.

Spreadsheets have been a necessary and advantageous tool in a huge number of industries. Excel has revolutionized accounting and driven decision making, but as business becomes more complex and global, Excel cannot bear the expectations and demands of many companies.

“Excel just wasn’t designed to do some of the heavy lifting that companies need to do in finance,” says Paul Hammerman, a business applications analyst at Forrester Research Inc.

We know what we need from software, now here is what Excel is missing.

Science is a collaborative effort, and the software we use needs to be collaborative as well. Currently, one calculation can be the determining factor in huge decisions or day to day operations for a small company—a situation that can be costly. As cost equations become increasingly complex and businesses grow larger, software needs to be flexible, allowing others to view, pull data from documents and integrate seamlessly.  When workers can all work on the documents and the calculations as an integrative group, collaboration wins and results are more accurate and truthful.

Data processing ability is also essential. The amount of data flowing through a company, especially smaller companies and startups that are likely to use products like Excel, is increasing at an exponential rate.  The amount of data that is now attributed to the process of determining financial calculations is greater than ever before.  The ability to pull in as much data needed to calculate in full detail and accuracy from multiple sources is essential.  Excel does not allow for that, hampering the ability to make quick and accurate analyses.

“I don’t want financial planning people spending their time importing and exporting and manipulating data, I want them to focus on what is the data telling us.” - Mark Garrett, Adobe Inc.

Adding to the list of potential problems, Excel also lacks error detection and correction.  Human error aside, errors can occur simply because Excel is not linked seamlessly to other systems. Proper system integration can eliminate problems across systems that companies and individual workers use.

Finding a new solution.

Although it may be hard to say goodbye, the time of Excel is over. Times change, and so does the technology that we use to solve problems. When a software starts to do more harm than good, it is time to consider moving to a more effective method of problem solving.  Although a potentially arduous task in some aspects, most companies find it surprisingly easy to move away from the typical spreadsheet when calculating complex cost of goods, cost analysis or cost driver determiners.

Look for a solution that encourages collaboration, relates all documentation and data to the analysis in a seamless manner, has more capacity to recognize and eliminate errors and has the ability to calculate accurately and effectively. 

Where to go from here?

In our consultancy, we have worked in all aspects of development and have run into the Excel issue many times.  The ability to control and lower costs while maintaining margins is not only necessary but achievable.  Times are not only changing, they have changed.  Businesses are growing globally and locally and demanding modern technology to fit the needs of a modern world.  Demand cutting edge software that fits your needs as a business and enables your company and workers to do the best possible work.

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Topics: Data Management, Cost Analysis, healthcare