Why CFOs need to ditch spreadsheets for data sharing

Microsoft Excel was never designed to support data sharing. It was built for a single user. While spreadsheets are great for individual productivity, they were not devised for sharing analytics across the business.

Industry analyst Mark Smith of Ventana Research points out that spreadsheets continue to complicate and cost businesses money. His standpoint stems from the results of a research study where 58% of organisations admitted spreadsheets are unreliable for analytics.

Using data for planning, forecasting, budgeting and reporting are all collaborative activities and essential for supporting better business decisions. They typically require information from different individuals and the final documents are a result of multiple exchanges of data, ideas and files.

Since it is not easy for multiple people to work on a single spreadsheet. This kind of collaboration is complicated and error-prone with Excel. Files are often shared via email, which can lead to confusion, versioning issues, wasted time and ultimately errors. The effects of using spreadsheets for data sharing with large groups or other tasks they are not designed for can be more damaging than you realise.

Are you demanding too much of Excel?

A recent survey conducted by Visma revealed that Excel is the most commonly used tool for CFOs within the Nordic markets. It also revealed that CFOs underestimate the importance of standardisation and automation.

Most people are simply not aware of the limitations of spreadsheets in regards to data sharing and collaboration or of the alternatives. Despite Excel’s reliability as a data aggregator, it has shown time and time again that it is error-prone and fragile as a planning system.

Has your business outgrown Excel?

In today’s era of collaboration, decisions are generally made collectively, involving people outside the finance department. Therefore, it is essential that your collaboration and analysis is not dependent on Excel, or disparate information systems. This will hinder your success.

Excel has probably been your loyal companion for many years. It is, however, important to realise that there is a point when your business needs will outgrow Excel. If you can’t scan a spreadsheet and recognise or validate the numbers yourself, you’ve outgrown Excel and need a system that can detect errors for you.

Web-based solutions are here to stay

Web-based solutions are excellent for sharing data, planning and collaborating on project work. There is no need to locate files in old emails, worry about where files are located, or figure out which version is the latest file. All team members have access to data stored inside an online project.

As CFO, you need a system that allows you to access, analyse and share information efficiently. Today, more than ever, it is essential that information is up-to-date and you can access data in real-time so you can make smart and agile business decisions.

For more information, download our free whitepaper. It specifically looks at the pitfalls of spreadsheets for project-oriented organisations.

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About

Willow Keats works as a Content Marketing Specialist in the Commercial Unit of Visma Software. Willow is responsible for the creation and coordination of content marketing for Visma.net. She has a Bachelor of Commerce in Marketing Management and has been working for the Company, and with content production, for over six years.
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