Microsoft Excel has been a mainstay in the accounting world since it made its debut in the 1980s. Accountants and finance professionals are widely literate in Microsoft Excel for a variety of reasons–some of which being that it is a low cost, versatile, and commonplace solution.
Being part of the Microsoft Office package, which is prolifically available to businesses of all sizes, it makes sense that Excel has made such a splash. But has Excel earned its staying power? Is it still relevant in a complex accounting setting?
Excel brings a lot to the table, such as formulas, charts, and graphs, but it was never intended for the complex accounting needs of enterprise environments. In fact, Excel’s limitations have been a point of contention for many accountants and businesses, leading to frustration and hours of overtime to check and double-check manual work.
A limited and flawed solution
Excel can be a viable solution for small businesses, but medium-to-large businesses and businesses with multiple entities are becoming increasingly dissatisfied with Excel.
Some of Excel’s many limitations include:
- Duplication: The same spreadsheet containing the same data exists in multiple inboxes and desktops. Which is the most current? Without a centralized hub, data integrity is jeopardized.
- Errors: Have you ever had the experience of combing through every cell and every formula to find what’s broken? It can take hours or even days to locate and fix the mistake. Without solid checks and balances, this is one area Excel falls short.
- Formatting: Like other Microsoft Office products, there are endless formatting possibilities–font type, font size, font color, highlighting… An individual may have a system of color-coding, but is that public knowledge? It is difficult to enforce a company-wide formatting policy designating how data should be formatted and presented on a product that offers endless options.
Fortunately, dedicated financial reporting and analytics software exists to fill in the gaps, ending the accountants’ dependence on a solution that was never intended to satisfy the complex needs multi-entity businesses face today.
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