How do you know when it’s time to leave Excel?
We love Excel. It’s a powerful tool in many ways: flexible, powerful and relatively user friendly, if you have the necessary knowledge. Few planning tools can measure up to Excel’s strengths regarding calculations and flexibility. But it obviously isn’t suitable for all budgeting, forecasting and planning processes. Here’s 7 signs that it's time to leave Excel!
7 tips for when it’s time to leave Excel
How do you know when it’s time to leave Excel? Of course, the answer varies depending on your specific circumstances, but you’’ll find 7 situations below that indicates when it’s time to upgrade your solution:
1. You have external data in many different pre-systems
A lot of manual work is required when your forecasting process is dependent on external data that needs to be gathered and compiled in Excel. The more pre-systems you have, the more manual work is required.
2. Many people are involved
A lot of problems and challenges usually arrise when multiple individuals are involved in the planning process since Excel isn’t a collaborative tool and doesn’t have role-based security.
3. The complexity increases
As the complexity of your business logic increase and the driver connections become complicated, Excel as a planning tool tends to become limiting. Excel doesn't contain any workflow, the version management isn’t good enough, there’s no routine for attestation and it’s also virtually impossible to troubleshoot when the complexity is too great.
4. You have high ambitions for growth
As a business, do you have high growth ambitions that require quick decisions and changes, constantly updated plans, and a continuous outlook? With a modern system for financial planning, you get a significantly higher level of automation than in Excel, and you can easily create new forecast proposals with the push of a button.
5. You have too little time for analysis
If your financial department spends all of their time on repetitive assignments like preparations and consolidation and have too little time left for analysing the budget, it might be time to consider another solution.
6. You want to increase understanding and ownership
If you need to increase ownership of the financial targets and forecasts, you also need to work driver-based. You need to work with an interface that is easy for the rest of your business to understand. Usually, users perceive Excel as difficult since there’s no clear outlook of what drives revenue and costs.
7. You want to work more frequently and data-driven
If you want to increase the frequency of your budgeting and forecasting, you need to minimise the manual labour. A dedicated system for financial planning with a high degree of automation can greatly simplify your work, at the same time as it becomes easier for the rest of your business to contribute with qualitative input.
Which companies is Excel suited for?
Excel often works fine for smaller companies with a somewhat flat growth curve, with a few simple processes or few employees involved in the process – as long as you have the necessary knowledge to build proper Excel processes that support your business. But when your company grows, the complexity increases and more users are involved, it’s important to automate and streamline your planning processes, so you don’t risk drowning the finance department with work.
However, even smaller companies without complex or business critical planning processes can encounter issues in Excel when the market changes and you need to quickly update your forecasts – like in recent years with the pandemic, war and inflation. In times such as these it’s of great value to use a dedicated financial planning system that quickly, easily and efficiently can give you an updated financial outlook of the future.
In addition to smaller companies, businesses that lacks an overall picture of how they want their planning process to work or develop going forward, can hold off on investing in a financial planning system. For these businesses, we recommend that you at least begin this thought process prior to investing in a planning platform.
Financial planning as it should be
With a modern system for financial planning, you can automate large parts of the manual labour. By doing so, you’ll get more time for more value-creating work – in addition to a happier financial department that doesn’t have to work overtime. A more sophisticated system can handle an increasing amount of data while simultaneously enabling a smooth and collaborative environment for everyone involved. This leads to higher precision, increased efficiency in the planning process and faster decision-making. So as the company grows and develops, it’s important to consider investing in the tools that best support and drive your business's development.
Planacy vs. Excel
In contrast to Excel, Planacy can connect and integrate to all necessary pre-systems and data warehouses to give you a seamless and complete solution with automatically updated structures and outcome data. You can work with role-based security and easily set-up rules for what the users can see, when they can see it, as well as what every user is allowed to do. This makes it easier for you to decentralize and gather input from the departments with the most insights – increase engagement and ownership while maintaining data security. You can also work privately with the budget process if you, for example, would like to make sensitive what-if scenarios.
Integrate Planacy with Excel
Even if this article points out some of Excel’s faults, we truly mean it when we say that we love Excel. Therefore, we have built specific add-ins for both Excel and Google Sheets. You get a planning platform that streamlines your work process and at the same time reduces the manual labour and the risks that comes with budgeting and forecasting in spreadsheets. With our add-ins you can quickly extract data from Planacy to both Excel and Google Sheets. You can create your forecasts in Planacy and use the Office package or Google Workspace for smooth and efficient reporting and ad-hoc analysis. Read more about our add-ins here
If you’re curious about how a planning platform can simplify your budget, forecast and planning processes, you’re welcome to book a demo with one of our planning experts.